In 2014 Elon Musk famously proclaimed, “We will not stop until every car on the road is electric”.
Little did he know that just a few years from then, his vision would be slowly turning into a reality. Today, electric cars have become the latest fad – one that is rapidly transforming the automobile industry. The eco-machines are literally painting the town green by pushing our everyday gas guzzlers off the streets. One car at a time.
What started as Musk’s ambitious Tesla project in 2008 has today created an electric vehicle industry that is growing at a huge pace. The market share of electric cars has risen exponentially over the last two years, touching 1.7% of total car sales in 2017, up from 1.1% in 2016. In that, pure battery operated cars take a heavy lead over their hybrid counterparts in the ratio of almost 7:3
Currently, there are over 4 million electric cars running globally. Going by this pace, electric car sales is expected to touch a whopping 125 million by 2030
The Clean drive
Several factors have helped electric cars gain popularity over the years, the most prominent being the climate issue. Over their lifetime, electric cars produce far less pollution than their fossil fuel counterparts giving it a wider appeal.
But when launched, they came with several limitations. Low range and high battery costs, in particular, were the major deterrents. Today, battery capacities of electric cars have increased by over 50% with some models going well over 300 miles on a single charge. Simultaneously, battery costs have declined sharply – over half the price between 2014-2016 and are already down 24% from 2016 levels. In addition to continually improving range and price, new technologies are also working towards making batteries lighter and quickly chargeable.
Besides, external factors like friendly government policies are also triggering their huge demand. Norway, with its commitment to the environment, is clearly the leader here.
Electric cars accounted for 52% of all new car sales in Norway in 2017, highest in the world. This also brings the gasoline car market share below 50%, a first for any country
A huge credit for this success goes to the generous government incentives there. These include tax exemptions for electric cars, free or subsidized parking and re-charging among others. Moreover, Norway is also planning to phase out fossil fuel engines completely by 2025 in line with its zero emission goal. That’s just seven years from now.
The Electric future
Faced with mounting climate concerns, countries today are aggressively moving towards electric fleets. There is a growing list of countries including France, Britain that are seeking to ban petrol and diesel vehicles in the coming years. India on its part plans to have 30% electric cars on its roads by 2030.
However, the next 12 years are set to redefine the concept of electric cars as we know it. By 2022, Lithium-ion battery prices are expected to drop significantly bringing electric vehicles at par with their internal combustion counterparts. That will be the point of take-off, eventually making electric vehicles profitable by 2030.
By 2050, 4 out of every 5 cars are expected to be battery operated with battery production capacities having increased by over 400%
With technology focussing on making electric cars affordable, the critical responsibility of promoting it lies with the governments. This would require building the right ecosystem to sustain the demand, including infrastructure and incentives.
Electric cars are clearly the future and the transition to it will happen sooner than expected. It’s only a matter of time before we all buckle up and get set for a charged up drive.