The widespread transition from gasoline-powered, internal combustion (or “ICE”) vehicles to electric vehicles (“EVs”) has been a foregone conclusion for years now, at least according to our ruling class and its obsequious media mouthpieces. Instead, as predicted by people who instinctively resist government actions designed to “save the planet,” there is a massive EV bust occurring. Pretty much any company not named Tesla is seeing its EV future crash and burn.
There are recent precedents to the failure trajectory of electric vehicles, specifically, those of compact fluorescent light bulbs (“CFLs”) and autonomous vehicles. The government paved the path for an all-CFL future by banning incandescent light bulbs, but even with the weight of the government on consumers’ backs, CFLs were widely rejected by those who were supposed to buy them, much like EVs are being rejected by consumers now. As for autonomous (self-driving) cars, it was reported a decade ago that our roadways would be filled with driverless vehicles by now. It never happened, just like our roadways will not be filled with EVs in the near future, if ever.
Some day our time will come...
With the federal government virtually mandating an all-electric future by the 2030s, and with several states (including California and New York) outright banning the sale of ICE cars in the next decade, the “EV transition” seemed to be assured. In addition, there was the undeniable success of Tesla, which, to some EV cheerleaders, seemed to indicate a tremendous consumer demand for EVs. But Tesla’s success is just the opposite of widespread consumer demand. It has appealed to car shoppers who seek exclusivity, with some conspicuous green virtue-signaling thrown into the mix. It’s a demographic that includes millions of potential car buyers, but overall, it is a comparatively small minority of total drivers.
The great problem for all the legacy auto manufacturers who want to recreate Tesla’s success is that the limited EV customer/status pool pretty much only wants an EV with a Tesla hood ornament on it. These customers will generally not buy an EV from a Chevrolet or a Ford dealer for the same reason they choose Whole Foods over Wal Mart to buy their organic groceries. And the reverse is true too, the person who uses his one vehicle to commute, possibly do some towing, and to drive cross country, is not going to consider an EV no matter who the manufacturer is.
EVs and their highly combustible lithium batteries are a safety concern to many people, including those who transport and store these volatile vehicles, and to the firefighters who struggle to extinguish the thermal runaway fires they produce. Add to that the disturbing provenance of the cobalt and lithium used in the batteries, as well as the fact that the typical EV has no less of a “carbon footprint” than an ICE car, and it is fair to wonder if the current iteration of EVs will someday be banned by the same environmental activists who are pushing them today. (Let me stress that I do not care about my “carbon footprint,” but an alleged reduction in carbon emissions is a core obsession of those pushing EVs.)
An electric double-decker bus caught fire in southwest London on Thursday, prompting the city’s transportation agency to remove a fleet from service as a precaution while the incident is investigated, according to reports. Passengers on the bus in Wimbledon during rush hour had to be evacuated, but no injuries were reported, according to BBC News. Video of the incident show flames and smoke engulfing an apparent rear section of the bus.
"Safety is our top priority and we are working with the operator, London General, and the bus manufacturer, Switch, to investigate what happened," Transport for London’s head of business development Tom Cunnington said in a statement, the BBC reported.
If EVs are someday banned in the name of “the environment,” that would track with how the conversion to CFL bulbs played out. It was barely 15 years ago that the government started banning incandescent bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent bulbs, but it is CFL bulbs that are now being banned, because they are toxic and damaging to the environment. Effective January 2024, Oregon has become the seventh state to ban fluorescent bulbs, joining Vermont, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Maine.
Who could have predicted that the environmental activists promoting those little mercury bombs might someday want them banned? But they did. So, it is also rational to predict that in coming decades the greens will realize just how environmentally destructive EVs are, and start banning those too. But modern-day bans on CFLs don’t matter much now, since CFLs were widely rejected by consumers long before the bans on them started being implemented.
Not going to happen.
As for autonomous cars, their ubiquity by the early 2020s was reported as a virtual certainty in the mid 20-teens. Elon Musk famously boasted in 2015 that Tesla would have fully autonomous vehicles on the road by 2018.
During an interview earlier this week with the Danish news site Borsen, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company is rolling out its "Autopilot" feature to the masses next month and the company's fully autonomous vehicles will be ready in just a few short years. "My guess for when we will have full autonomy is approximately three years.”
In addition, Musk predicted back in 2015 that virtually all cars would be self-driving by 2035.
Twenty years from now, Musk said it's likely all cars being built will be self-driving and a very large percentage of vehicles will be electric.
The excitement was growing, and a year later, in 2016, pretty much every major manufacturer was boasting that they’d have fully autonomous cars running the roads by 2020 or 2021. None of that happened, of course, because the anticipated technology improvements didn’t occur.
The unfulfilled promises of autonomous cars align with the failed predictions for widespread EV adoption. All the negatives that keep the masses from buying EVs – price, range limitations, charging hassles, fire hazard, etc. – were expected to magically disappear through “technology improvements” that were fatuously reported as inevitable.
This past year was the year that “the EV transition” stalled. The coming year of 2024 will be a year for legacy auto manufacturers to address the financial reality that their EV investments are an unrecoverable sunk cost. Their survival and future profitability will require them to re-focus on being profitable manufacturers of ICE vehicles (which include “hybrids”) rather than being failed mass-market EV manufacturers, a niche for which there is no “mass market.” The abandonment of the EV fantasy by legacy auto manufacturers can then be a catalyst for EV mandates to be pushed back and ultimately abandoned.