It's Utterly Electrifying. EVs Arrive at Critical Mass.
It's a terrible week to add to Jason Kenney's woes but the days of internal combustion are growing shorter with each passing year.
Six years ago the Swiss bank, UBS, sent a letter to its top clients warning them to get out of conventional energy investments and put their money instead into renewable energy. The days of fossil fuels were numbered. Advances in clean energy generation and storage would send oil, gas and coal back to where they came from, that age of the dinosaurs.
So much has happened over the past six years, especially in battery capacity and cost, that, as UBS predicted, electric vehicles are becoming cheaper than the internal combustion alternative. That's happening even without government subsidies on EV purchases.
Global sales rose 43% in 2020, but even faster growth is anticipated when continuing falls in battery prices bring the price of electric cars dipping below that of equivalent petrol and diesel models, even without subsidies. The latest analyses forecast that to happen some time between 2023 and 2025.
The tipping point has already been passed in Norway, where tax breaks mean electric cars are cheaper. The market share of battery-powered cars soared to 54% in 2020 in the Nordic country, compared with less than 5% in most European nations.
Transport is a major source of carbon emissions and electric cars are vital in efforts to fight the climate crisis. But, while they are already cheaper to run, their higher purchase price is a barrier to mass uptake. The other key factor is “range anxiety”, but this week the first factory production began of batteries capable of giving a 200-mile charge in five minutes.
Cost is the nail-driver. The 2014 UBS survey of clean energy concluded that in a decade or so most households would be "off the grid." Advances in solar panels and, especially, battery storage would mean that households, even in ordinarily dreary Germany, would produce their own electricity, enough to light, heat and power the home with plenty left over to recharge the family car at a cost substantially lower than what the public utilities charge. As I recall it, the report estimated that the cost of a 20-year clean energy system would be recouped in just six years.
Volkswagen plans to build 1.5 million EVs in 2023 and switch to all-electric by 2040. VW is targeting becoming carbon neutral - manufacturing included - by 2050.
The one thing that fossil energy cannot compete with is cost.