Electric Cars – Why the Doomsayers Were Wrong

The Tesla Roadster. Did I covet one? Yes

Today I’m going to talk about two “bugbears” of environmental campaigners, plastic & motor cars.

1. Plastic
Beauty product retailer Lush take back their plastic gift vouchers and melt them down to make other goods.

They maybe only take a few pounds of plastic a year. But the point is, they are leading the way. In commercial terms it’s great PR. Get a few more to follow – maybe Marks & Spencer in the UK or Walmart – and you’ve got a worldwide movement. Change happens.

2. Motor cars
In 2008 Paypal billionaire Elon Musk produced the fully electric Tesla Road

ster sports car with a hefty $112k price tag. The world looked up and took notice. Most people believed this was a nice gesture that would never take off. It was just too difficult to hold on to that much energy in a battery.

Great idea but you can’t make one with a long enough range, was what people were saying.

Nine years later every major car manufacturer has either produced or is about to produce a

fully electric car. As I blogged previously a Stanford University study predicts all new vehicles will be electric by 2025.

My point is, change happens fast. Look at these charts for electric vehicle sales in China and the UK.

See how electric vehicle sales in China were more or less flat-lining then suddenly jumped by a factor of about four in 2014. Maybe I should trade up my Toyota Yaris for something more electric!

Then, in 2015 they jump four times again, and by 2016 China is buying 29 times as many electric vehicles as it did just six years previously.

The figures show, as far as electric cars go the doomsayers are wrong. The same is true for all environmental issues. You may not want to hear this, but it’s driven largely by commerce. People expressed a desire for change and the car manufacturers went off and researched. They found ways to make those cars go further between charges, despite what people had been saying for decades. They built charging stations and gave away the energy for free if need be. People responded by changing to electric vehicles.

Change happens fast, not just the bad stuff.



  • And not all electric cars will necessarily be plug-in electric. The same people who predicted Musk couldn’t succeed with his electric cars predict hydrogen fuel cells will never work. Some new EV technologies will surely go the way of the Betamax, but there’s no point in trying to predict what can succeed until it’s on the market.

    • I agree David. It’s amazing how far energy storage technology has improved, but the next issue is how the energy is generated, i.e. how clean and efficient. I’d be interested to find out more about ways people are manufacturing hydrogen cells.

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