Death of EVs Greatly Exaggerated

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - Mark Twain once quipped, “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

The same might be said of the pronouncement of Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jones, who said “EV’s are dead, long live TESLA.”

Stock analysts are not particularly well-known for their patience, and if Google went back far enough, you could probably find a similar sentiment being expressed by great-granddaddy Jones back in 1908 about the first Fords rolling off the assembly line. The impetus for the comment was an announcement that Toyota was ending its parts contract with Tesla.

Okay, admittedly, EV’s have not become highly profitable overnight, the way that Wall Street likes them. Yes, market penetration is still tiny, and some companies like Fiat, are losing money on every 500e they sell. But think of the size of the battleship that is turning around. In the US alone there are more than 120,000 gas stations. How many EV chargers are out there? Roughly 8,000. How long does the average American hold onto his car? Almost six years. How long has there been a viable, affordable EV on the market? Nissan LEAF sales began in December 2010.

EVs are superior to internal combustion vehicles in almost every way except that:

  1. They are more expensive
  2. Charging infrastructure is still being built
  3. Range is still an issue for many people
  4. They are not yet considered mainstream

All of this is changing rapidly. As Tesla has already demonstrated, and Jones himself acknowledges, they are being enthusiastically grabbed up by those that can afford them. Jones just happens to call them “compelling performance vehicles that just happen to be EVs.”

The fact that they just happen to be EVs, is not just a coincidence, but rather an outcome of something called low-end torque that electric motors can smoothly deliver in a way that even the best engines can only dream about. In a nutshell, it’s the power available before a vehicle has come up to speed.

Never mind, that. Jones goes on to say that automakers are increasingly turning towards fuel cells. But fuel cell vehicles are also EV’s; the fuel cell merely acts as a battery that can be filled up with hydrogen. Of course, the oil companies are also hoping that this becomes the way of the future because that way, they’ll have something to sell at those 120,000 gas stations.

And perhaps they will. I’ve spoken to some EV enthusiasts traveling across country, and they shrug off the hour it takes to recharge the car, even with a Tesla supercharger. The rest of us might not be so patient. So perhaps that’s the EV’s Achilles’ heel, even after the other issues have been resolved.

Sounds reasonable, but if you believe it, you’re not thinking far enough out of the box. All it takes is a battery that can last three, four, or five hundred miles on a charge and all those worries evaporate. That’s likely as far as just about anyone will want to drive in a day without stopping for several hours, if not for the night. That’s plenty of time to recharge. The Tesla already exceeds 200 miles.

It's not that hard to imagine motel parking lots with chargers galore. Now that’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s on its way.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jones can puts his money anywhere he wants to, but I know where I’m putting mine.

Image credit: Frank Hebbert: Flickr Creative Commons