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Volkswagen’s Costly Bet on Electric Cars (wsj.com)
81 points by prostoalex 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 178 comments





Is there any credible doubt that electric cars are the future?

We can quibble about timing, regulatory vs customer preference factors, models, etc. but it's clear from all the data I've seen that EVs (and specifically plug in EVs) are growing at a fast clip and are on the way to becoming mainstream and unremarkable within the next decade or two.

If you were a big auto company, what wouldn't you spend to not lose out on that wave? I look at other industries where fundamental underlying technology changes remade the landscape: the switch to mobile phones, internet penetration, etc.


I think comparing the switch from gas to EV to internet/mobile phones is quite the stretch. There's nothing really new or different about an EV.

The car market isn't going to experience several orders of magnitude growth spurred by EVs. Most buyers will compare across engine types. So to answer your question

>If you were a big auto company, what wouldn't you spend to not lose out on that wave

I'd spend nothing until the EV I can produce is expected to have profit margins on the order of my other vehicles in that class, discounted at maybe 30-50% of the development cost. Note that brand recognition/green efforts/etc gets wrapped up into the profit margin calculation.

The nail in the coffin here is that early movers get penalized unless they can effectively vertically integrate all the tech used for EVs (e.g. Tesla with their battery specialization). If you want to bet on the battery tech getting commoditized, its in your interest to wait as long as possible.


The problem with this view is that it assumes the EV/ICE differences are a simple swap, akin to moving from a I4 to a V6.

The switch to an EV drivetrain has lead to a much more through redesign of cars and none of the first gen batteries-bolted-onto-existing-chasis type EVs were particularly good. That is, if you don't get on the EV wave early and just wait for cheap batteries, you will be years behind your competitors in producing a properly thought-out EV and will be facing some very tough times.


This seems totally backwards to me. New entrants get to learn from all the mistakes every other entrant has made without any of the costs. New car makers aren't at a 120 year disadvantage relative to Ford.

Waiting may mean you face a patent stockade.

Apple would disagree. They were not first to market with music players, or mobile phones. They looked at what others did, saw their opening, and when they were ready they came in and absolutely dominated the market with products that had been designed with the benefit of knowing where others had made mistakes.

Tesla is already past the Apple point of releasing the iPod. Tesla basically recognized that a range of tech across the tech tree needed for EVs was sufficiently mature that they could produce a systemic leap in EV cars as a system (all while the individual elements of the system were sufficiently mature as to get to a better whole).

Tesla cars are basically the iPhone, while the big automakers are scrambling a bit to make their iPhone clones.


The iPod is decidedly and dramatically simpler than an automobile in every way. The hardest part of the iPod was a commodity part the purchased (e.g. HDD).

What Apple did correctly was determine that the market would pay a lot more for an MP3 player if it was all around better than the competition. Then they kept up momentum by iterating and improving their design before the competition had a chance to respond.

In the audio player market, MP3 Players had significant advantages over CDs and other mediums that drove rapid adoption and since Apple was best in class they quickly developed a monopoly.

The Car market is very different, EVs do not have significant advantages over ICE and there is not rapid adoption so it's hard for a monopoly to develop. EVs currently have range-over-time limitations compared to ICE as well as much lower margins with much higher costs. Those limitations are being addressed but until they are, there's only so much makers can do to tempt buyers.


>> EVs do not have significant advantages over ICE

Disagree.

Advantage 1: EV can be charged virtually everywhere with access to electricity (like parking lots), no gas stations, no gas transportation necessary.

Advantage 2: low maintenance costs. Electrically powered engines are simpler with fewer mechanical elements

Advantage 3: EVs are very quiet, so lower noise pollution

Some disadvantages are short driving range and long recharge time.


A few of those advantages are limited somewhat:

1) Electricity access is plentiful but you need high power if you want to charge in a reasonable timeframe

2) There are fewer moving parts but there is one part that degrades every time you use it, the battery

That said I really want to get a cheap used EV as my next car!


>no gas stations, no gas transportation necessary.

In many parts of the world, being able to transport fuel to where it's needed is a huge advantage. We are a long way from a global electricity infrastructure.


> In many parts of the world, being able to transport fuel to where it's needed is a huge advantage

Just offhand, what % of the new car market would you say those areas represent in the current model year? In 10 years?


It's probably a greater % than those who buy an EV expecting to be able to charge it in a parking lot.

His scenario is highly unusual but it highlights a weakness of EVs. There are numerous scenarios where an ICE can bring extra fuel with it or for multiple vehicles.

While his scenario might me a boundary condition, the comment he was responding to listed a similarly unlikely scenario outside of dense Urban environments.

The reality is we should be heavily promoting/supporting or even requiring EVs where they make sense like dense Urban areas with access to charging and suburban commuters. At the same time we should also recognize that there are many scenarios today where EVs don't make sense and ensure we don't penalize people who need to remain ICE bound. Eventually the EV tech will supplant most or all use cases.


> EVs do not have significant advantages over ICE and there is not rapid adoption

Lots of people would disagree, including myself.


The adoption is accelerating but it's still only a very small percentage of the total market. And while they do have many advantages, they also have many disadvantages; namely range, rate of refuel, and cost.

Even though EVs can meet the needs of the majority of the population, the perception is that they can't and they're inferior. Tesla has done wonders to counter that perception but they're pidgeon holed as being too expensive.

I say this as the owner of both a Leaf and a Model 3.


They monopsonized the supply chain with their decades of supply chain expertise.

There was a lot of mechanics involved in releasing the iPod - e.g. 1.8" hard drive and later flash memory.

Tesla is the Apple here, they're already vertically integrating.


The hard drive wasn't an Apple innovation. Neither was the battery tech. They brought the wheel interface and were willing to gamble that people would pay a premium for a bunch of very expensive components that resulted in a comparatively small player.

The closest thing to an iPod at the time it launched was the Rio players which were flash based and had capacities in tens of megabytes or the Creative HDD players which were battery hogs the size of 2 CD players stacked on top.


Creative had the Nomad Jukebox [0] at 6GB. It used a larger drive and was about the size of a discman, not double. The battery was awesome and lasted all day.

The iPod was more expensive, but they ended up with being able to both buy and rip music.

The size helped using the new smaller drive. But they took off because of their music, I think.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_NOMAD


The Nomad Jukebox is 1.5 inches thick, in 2001 most portable CD players were under an inch thick and there were a few competing for thinnest with the IO-Data HyperHyde being .55 inches thick.

The battery in the Nomad at the time of the iPod launch was four standard AA cells, and you're right that they could last all day if you used Alkalines. You could use NiMH batteries but they were pretty awful; their main selling point in 2002ish was that they had no memory effect compared to NiCADs; not that they lasted as long as Alkalines.

The iPod launched a full 2 years before the iTunes Music store. At launch you could not buy music for the iPod and it still sold like hotcakes.

The iPod had a high capacity rechargeable battery, FireWire (400mbps) and could fit in the front pocket of a pair of jeans. The Nomad Jukebox was the closest thing at the time and it used four AA batteries, USB 1.1 (12mbs) and was praised for passing the jacket test (e.g. fitting in an oversized jacket pocket).


At launch the iPod was not widely bought. It wasn’t it was released for windows and launched the iTunes Store that it got popular.

Check out the sales curve [0] and it didn’t get significant until 2004 when it became the top seller in October and exploded in 2005.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ipod_sales_per_quarter....


In 2002, the first full year of sales, it managed to capture 11% of the market[1] with 475 thousand units and ranking 3rd in a market of only around 4.2 million[2]. That's not nothing.

The market tripped to 12.5 million units in 2003 and Apple's market share continued to grow. By 2009 they had almost 80% of the market.

[1] https://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/Apple_iPod_Number_On... [2] https://www.macworld.com/article/1053499/ipodtimeline.html


For others 'monopsonized' isn't a typo.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopsony

TIL


The iPad won via software not hardware. More importantly it was keeping everything working from low level firmware to UI seamlessly.

In cars software is far more than the infotainment system. Consider, to increase charge speeds Tesla reolized you should use battery power to heat the batteries as you drive to the charging station. Thinking just in terms of swapping a gas tank for batteries is not going to result in that kind of integration.

Tesla is also looking to integrate super capacitors for regenerative breaking and peak acceleration. Again, that’s a step up from tossing a larger battery pack into a Prius and calling it a day.


Apple was the (second) mover in the currently-dominant space of smartphones with capacitive touch screens, which has also been their most profitable division (IIRC) for most of the past decade. (LG (Prada) beat them to it by a few months but botched the marketing and software.) To wit, Wikipedia's "multi-touch in popular culture" section is divided into "before 2007" and "after 2007": before 2007, multi-touch was the exclusive domain of futuristic sci-fi:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-touch#Popular_culture


Phones are a lot easier to manufacture than cars. There are so many more factors that need to get straightened out in the process.

That's what VW is attempting to do with the MEB platform.

A huge amount of the invention and development in the auto industry happens at the suppliers to the auto makers. It’s not like a car maker needs to start from scratch to design an EV.

Companies are not spending this money because they feel like it. EV drivetrains have a lot going for them. As battery prices drop and infrastructure improves they are only going to get more compelling over time.

In 20 years their could be several suppliers ready to help any car company that survives that long. But, surviving to that point without a high quality EV is going to be difficult.


> and none of the first gen batteries-bolted-onto-existing-chasis type EVs were particularly good

The e-Golf was very well received. It's designed for both propulsion systems. And why not? Sure, skateboard designs are better over all, but electric tech is flexible.


> I'd spend nothing until the EV I can produce is expected to have profit margins on the order of my other vehicles in that class

I think posing the question as a ROI calculation misses context that going forward at some level of risk is how you get the data to model a much better profitability operating point.

Until you produce a few models of EV yourself, how can you know your cost estimate is anywhere near accurate? Add in the uncertainty in the speed of drop in the cost of central components like the batteries and I suspect the uncertainty is sufficiently high to surround both sides of the threshhold where if you set up for a go, you don't know if it will be more or less profitable and the ICE equivalent.

However, if you don't start now, and your competitors do start down the path, then you might end up with a ICE line of cars where your competitors are posting costs well below yours and eating your market share.


But once your competitors demonstrate feasibility, it should be no problem to spin up your own offering, no? You'll be behind by X months, but unless the competitors get an absolute smash hit, thats probably not a big deal.

> I think posing the question as a ROI calculation

Posing it as brain dead ROI calculation like an academic economist would just misses pretty much everything about bringing a new design to market and why companies do things.

The conundrum is. You never make money on a new blue printed design. You make money reselling tweaks of old stuff. But the reality that you need to innovate or eventually go out of business.

Never innovating and eventually going out of business is a valid strategy. That's basically the hedge fund strategy.

But companies that aren't controlled by capitalists never do that because there is nothing in it for the people that run the company. Since that's VW they'll they chose to lose money innovating. So the company stays in business and they keep their jobs and status.


EVs are tweaks though. Nobody buys ICE vehicles. They buy sedans, trucks, SUVs, etc. What the engine uses as an energy input doesn't matter and won't for another decade.

You're thinking of classes of vehicles. Where what I'm referring to is major components, engines, transmissions, suspension, structural design. Those designs tend to be very long lived on the order of 15 to 30 years. Designing from scratch takes a long time and results in teething issues as the design flaws get worked out. The expense and time it takes stretches the ROI out.

Tweaks involve modifying already well understood systems. Risk is limited, return on investment is quick. Allows you to keep making money.


> But companies that aren't controlled by capitalists never do that

I would say that there are a range of companies that are to different mixes of being ruled by accounting vs ruled by innovation. Ironically, I would say the companies most ruled by accounting are the ones with the best foundational resources to make targeted innovation bets (but don't because the ROI doesn't pencil out...).


> I think comparing the switch from gas to EV to internet/mobile phones is quite the stretch. There's nothing really new or different about an EV.

That's a bit hyperbolic. EVs dont require gas. This is a huge seismic shift in the way auto and oil industries were tied at the hip and probably why Tesla is able to disrupt so heavily.

Un-swearing allegiance to Big Oil is the huge gamble.

A working commodity market for things like batteries may or may not happen. You could get a vertical integrator (or several) who monopsonize the key parts. Then what?

Gas cars will still be sold but the threat of legislation is huge. That market could dry up much faster than expected.

The best bet wouldn't be to stay out of the market, but to dabble and know when to strike hard so you can edge out all your laggard competitors.


>> EVs dont require gas. This is a huge seismic shift

Not really.

>> Un-swearing allegiance to Big Oil is the huge gamble.

This is silly.

>> A working commodity market for things like batteries may or may not happen. You could get a vertical integrator (or several) who monopsonize the key parts. Then what?

The batter market will be much larger than cars. I think vertical integration would be the surprise result


Your dismissals have no case. My case is Tesla.

>My case is Tesla

Considering Tesla has a microscopic market share and is financially tenuous...what exactly is your case again?

Big Oil will become Big Energy, and invest in alternatives. They've been doing so for decades. Some will fail, for sure. But these are well capitalized companies and believe it or not have capable engineers and managers who care about the future of the planet (outside of SV if you can imagine that!).


Tesla is on less solid ground than the big makers certainly, but small market share? Tesla is basically the dominant seller in the luxury class in 2018, and that's struggling through the initial ramp up of their model 3.

https://bgr.com/2019/01/09/tesla-model-3-best-selling-car-vs...


>> EVs dont require gas. This is a huge seismic shift

EVs require electricity, they need to be refilled. Sometimes when they are not sitting in your garage. That means that tesla (and others) had to build a bunch of gas station analogs. Seismic only in terms of all the foundations for such things being laid but just a slight evolution.


Tesla only shows one of two things

1) Their profit margins are significantly lower than what traditional manufacturers are willing to sustain for the luxury car market

2) The traditional manufacturers were bad at calculating the profit margin of a luxury EV


Isn't this how competitive markets supposed to work? With entrants competing to offer lower prices to consumers?

Yes. The parent point is that Tesla isn't evidence of EVs being a `seismic shift` or that `betting against big oil is dangerous`.

The general point is that comparing EVs to the internet and/or mobile phones (which became entirely new, and important markets) is ridiculous. In the extreme.


Rephrasing the question somewhat: Who has the bigger advantage?

The car company that spends the most and comes out first?

Or

The car company that waits and is the last to really move to PEV from ICE?


Almost certainly the answer will be somewhere in the middle. A company that can do the shift after most of the hard and expensive work in battery tech has been completed but before their brand is completely ruined and everyone thinks of them as dinosaurs.

> Is there any credible doubt that electric cars are the future?

No, but the future will look very different from what is the current "industry consensus"

Legal side of the question, consumer preferences, and how the developing markets will react to the trend make it all more likely that switch to EVs will not be a drop in replacement for regular cars.

Some conventional car concepts, and even entire car classes simply make no sense if converted 1-to-1 to electric propulsion.

Few current trends will hold in EV era:

1. The global general trend of car turning smaller will continue. Two-seaters are very likely to turn mainstream. Twizzy like microcars will also have a good chance to make debut outside of niche markets.

2. Battery capacity will be becoming more, and more of an irrelevant metric, as people discover that even basic EVs fully satisfy their need for a commuter vehicle. Thus all extensive investments into battery tech and manufacturing, may well go... sideways

3. New manufacturers from the developing world will actually have more headway than established ones as they are there creating brand new markets, while established makers will still be trying to sell electrified versions of "car 1.0"

4. New EVs will themselves see strong competition from "new mobility" and "public transport 2.0"

5. Same will go for two wheel transport. "The 150cc world" has long been thought to be a developing nation only thing, but it is the one currently expanding, and heading West. I am seeing more and more of maxi scooters, and other "Asian type" motorcycle varieties in the West these days. I think that's a very natural consequence of people adjusting to continuously worsening traffic.


I disagree with almost all of this. Cars are getting bigger, not smaller. At least in the US. Very few people are interested in an tiny car suitable only for commuting. They want an all-purpose car that they can use for commuting, shopping, and 700-mile/day vacation drives. People don't trust new brands in cars until they've seen them on the road for a few years. Tiny cars and especially two-wheelers are seen as unsafe by most motorists. That goes back to why bigger cars sell better. Look at the number of people driving around town in full-size SUVs or 4-door pickup trucks.

Most people don’t live in the US. The cars that are popular in the US are already less popular outside. That trend can continue while everyone else moves to smaller electric cars.

Americans still don’t use metric. That hasn’t stopped everyone else in the world.


> Look at the number of people driving around town in full-size SUVs or 4-door pickup trucks.

Unfortunately it is difficult to impossible to get a 2-door standard cab pickup truck any more. And forget a short bed.

I wish, wish, wish I could purchase a new Ford Ranger (ideally 4wd), with a standard cab and short bed - but that's an impossibility. I can't even get something comparable from any other manufacturer.

The only thing I've seen that may be possible is to get such a vehicle as part of a "fleet purchase" - it seems like you can get such a vehicle if you purchase a ton of 'em. But I'd have to somehow sneak one of those in (ie - know somebody buying a fleet and willing to do such a deal for me). So - zero chance there, too.

The sad thing is - Ford sold a version of the Ranger that was fully electric. It's range and hauling capacity were terrible (it used lead acid gel cell batteries), but it was an option back in the early 1990s. They didn't sell many; the few they did went to mainly electric utilities or enthusiasts.


I think you're sadly right. The events that could pull Americans out of mega cars like SUVs and 150's are (IMO) highly unlikely:

1. Cities ban large vehicles in an attempt to fight traffic fatalities, pollution, or congestion.

2. Simple income inequality puts SUVs out of reach for most people where a $10k micro" EV gets the job done.

3. Graduated licensing and insurance makes SUVs economically unwise.

The rest of the world might go for it though. Certainly Europeans are happy with normal sized cars and could go smaller.


> 2. Simple income inequality puts SUVs out of reach for most people where a $10k micro" EV gets the job done.

If that happens, SUVs will become cheaper. It's not like it's significantly more expensive to produce a single SUV vehicle than to produce a smaller car. It's more about market segmentation rather than actual production costs.


> That goes back to why bigger cars sell better. Look at the number of people driving around town in full-size SUVs or 4-door pickup trucks.

The demographic of oversized SUV drivers has been quite stable, and it is very visible in survey data. For the last 20 years, that demographic was just getting older. It is a very generational thing.

On other side, the microcars has been only growing, and given that they were a practically invisible minority just few years ago in USA, their growth can be said to be very strong.

I'd say, this can be translated to China in some ways. There is also a sizeable demographic of people with very strong preference for all kinds of oversized car types, but there is an equally big polar opposite demographic who drive small vehicles by choice. And you have to add people who simply don't have money for anything but a small, mini or microcar. They are a little bit apart from ones driving smaller cars by preference, but they only add to their ranks.


There's some weird stuff here in the USA though with the CAFE rules, which strangely makes building larger trucks the thing to do if you want to pass.

There's a large number of people who want smaller pickups, for instance (I'm one of them - I used to own a 4-banger Ford Ranger - I loved that truck and I wish I never got rid of it) - but they are impossible to find any more. You can't even find 2-door standard cab short bed pickups. It isn't that the demand isn't there for them (the Ranger was a very popular pickup, even at the very end) - but that something about the CAFE rules makes building smaller pickups bad for the total sold fleet in terms of certain EPA stuff (I don't quite understand it completely, but I've read articles about it).

Interestingly too - the size of pickups was increased; what really seemed to have happened, is they "pushed up the models" - ie, what used to be the F-150 (say 1995 vintage) no longer exists. What we see as the F-150, today, is actually the size (and price) of the F-250 of 1995. The F-250 is now the F-350, and so on (it kinda levels off after the 400 class, simply because those and larger were mainly niche sales to individuals, or commercial sales). I don't know if that is truthly real, but if you compare the sizes of the vehicles and options, it feels like something they did.

My current vehicle is a 2004 Jeep TJ (if I could have bought a post-2000 Scrambler I would have); I like the short wheelbase, mainly, and found that I don't really need all the room of a full-sized pickup like I had before. That said, I do sometimes wish I had the room my old Ranger afforded me. There are times I see something on the "side of the road" that I used to pick up, but now I can't (yeah, I'm one of those guys). Oh well - more junk I don't need, right?

I'd love to see smaller vehicles make a come back, because it might also mean smaller pickups and a return to smaller Jeeps and other 4wd vehicles, too! But until those CAFE rules change, I don't know if we'll ever see that here.

BTW - regarding the CAFE rules - from what I recall, they have something to do with the "area" a vehicle occupies, not it's overall size or weight class; I also think it applies only to pickups/"small trucks" - and there's something that plays into the overall sold "fleet" of the manufacturer. Maybe somebody else here could explain it to me better.


>Interestingly too - the size of pickups was increased; what really seemed to have happened, is they "pushed up the models" - ie, what used to be the F-150 (say 1995 vintage) no longer exists. What we see as the F-150, today, is actually the size (and price) of the F-250 of 1995. The F-250 is now the F-350, and so on (it kinda levels off after the 400 class, simply because those and larger were mainly niche sales to individuals, or commercial sales). I don't know if that is truthly real, but if you compare the sizes of the vehicles and options, it feels like something they did.

You can't justifiably make this comparison across such a wide year rage because trucks went from utility vehicles to flagship models in this time and there's been some massive improvements in drive-train tech since the 90s. A lot of that "moving up" is simply technological improvement allowing new trucks to do what old ones couldn't. Trucks have certainly grown to occupy more physical space but their footprints have remained close to the same and their weights haven't increased all that much.

>I'd love to see smaller vehicles make a come back, because it might also mean smaller pickups and a return to smaller Jeeps and other 4wd vehicles, too! But until those CAFE rules change, I don't know if we'll ever see that here.

Agreed. Unless you have some other market you expect to sell them in and consider the US a sideshow you aren't gonna invest the $$ to develop those vehicles.


Bring back the El Camino

Battery chemistry improvements will have far reaching impacts, much more than just in cars. Right now it's just that EVs are what currently is most in demand.

If I were an exec at a car company I would try to hold out as long as possible selling ICE vehicles. The differentiators that justify all the r&d, marketing and bureaucracy of a huge motor company just won't be there for the EV market. We're moving towards a market where cars are much more commoditized.

I imagine we will move towards a few companies creating crash-safe bodies that then get outfitted by lean "OEM"s that put the right size battery in, the right kind of leather seats, puts their badge on it and calls it good.

Existing car companies are too big for this kind of market, so they might as well go out doing what they're actually good at.


> I imagine we will move towards a few companies creating crash-safe bodies that then get outfitted by lean "OEM"s that put the right size battery in, the right kind of leather seats, puts their badge on it and calls it good.

That's exactly VW's MEB platform.

"Volkswagen wants other automakers to use its MEB electric platform": https://electrek.co/2019/02/04/volkswagen-meb-electric-platf...

They're using it for a Golf-sized compact, a sedan, a crossover, and the VW bus reboot. Now they're also marketing it to other manufacturers.


> If I were an exec at a car company I would try to hold out as long as possible selling ICE vehicles.

This is basically Mazda's strategy.


although in Mazda's case they are working on some potentially very profitable upgrades that do not take the same commitment to long-term R&D, like their compression ignition engine:

https://www.just-auto.com/analysis/mazda-bets-big-on-revolut...

Selling an EV to an ICE customer is hard; selling 30%+ better fuel efficiency is easy.


And Fiat, their chairman said they would rather be late than wrong.

I don't want to buy a 20,000 euro battery if I can get by with a 7000 euro one + an ICE that I might run every few months on some longer trip.

That’s one side of it. The other side of the argument is this: I don’t want to pay for a 7000 euro battery and an ICE that has a thousand moving parts and an expensive service schedule.

I just did the 60000km service on my vw with oil change, transmission oil, and 4wd oil. It was 1300 euros. I remember thinking it was my last car with lots of expensive fluid changes...

I’m thinking I’ll get an electric car that does 90% of what I need and then I’ll rent a car if I need to go on a long trip.


I'm sorry, but did I just read that it was 1300 euros to change some fluids? That's absolutely insane. Even buying OEM fluids would only be 100 euros or so, and the labour to do it should be less than an hour, at most.

Yes OEM. Just Engine Oil+filter is 5-600. Slightly less for the 4wd and transmission ones. Hourly work cost in an OEM shop is probably 150€. Maybe even €200. Even in the garage on the corner it's probably 80-90/h.

Tesla maintenance at the vendor is also more than 1000 euro per year.

I have an ICE car and take it to an independent shop. Walking distance. They're mid priced and do good work.


Hybrids are "mainstream and unremarkable" already but non-hybrid cars are still sold. Pure electric vehicles today are at the same place that hybrids were at in the late 1990's.

It's not like mobile phones where the existing market is going to disappear overnight. Cars survive at least 20 years in many cases, meaning gasoline infrastructure is going to be around for a good, long while.

And if you project over the next 2-3 decades it's going to require for electric vehicles to become a majority of the market, it's increasingly possible for the underlying market dynamics to change even more. There is a ton of credible doubt for a future of, "every household has two cars just like 1960's American suburbia, except those cars are electric now".


> Pure electric vehicles today are at the same place that hybrids were at in the late 1990's.

I'd say we're well past that. More like mid-2000s. The "cambrian explosion" will be 2020, when China enforces their EV rules.


>Is there any credible doubt that electric cars are the future?

They seem to be, mostly because of their simplicity compared to an ICE.

But many seem to think we'll gradually keep using more and more EVs until they take over. Much needs to happen infrastructure-wise (hence, politically) before that world is feasible.


> Much needs to happen infrastructure-wise

In what way?

Plenty of utilities have stated that ubiquitous home-charging won't require major modifications to the grid. As residential demand creeps up, some spending and changes will have to be made, but nothing major.

En-route charging infrastructure is getting built up rapidly without public support. Commercial EV demand alone could drive the formation of a very nice charging infrastructure.


I have vague memories of countries running out electricity at peak hours in certain conditions.

In the UK they struggle with water boilers [0]. I'm fairly certain that if we switched all gas cars to electric we'd struggle quite a lot with peak electricity demand, especially during holidays and other events.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TV_pickup


I always assumed they would be charging overnight when not much else is going on. If we were really smart about it we could adjust the charging according to demand.

That's what is happening already. https://insideevs.com/average-hourly-electric-usage-ev-house...

The thing is that it's cheap to charge at night right now because it's off-peak. With a shift to EV it'll be the opposite.

It doesn't work very well with solar or wind energy since you can't modulate their production.


Obviously solar is out at night but I can't see the problem with wind. I would have thought it was helpful as you could vary the demand according to supply.

>In what way?

Where I live 30% of the price of gasoline is taxes. That's the political, and it changes the economics of EVs in the short term.

>Plenty of utilities have stated that ubiquitous home-charging won't require major modifications to the grid

And I've seen research going the other way, while at the same time we're moving away from burning fossil fuels for base load and going nuclear.


It'll be more costly for them if the EU ban all combustion consumer vehicles and VW are left unable to sell to the european market.

That is beside the point that the author of this article will be on the wrong side of history.


Internal Combustion only vehicles are likely to be banned by 2030 and forecourt plug-in hybrids by 2035. Several member countries are aiming to eliminate combustion engine vehicles from the roads by the mid 2040s. These are mostly stated goals at this stage rather than legislation.

I can't see Germany being happy signing off on rules that would kill their own auto industry.


Nor commit to the massive electrical infrastructure improvements such a policy would necessitate. Charging ever car, truck and digger across a country isnt as simple a few charge points in parking lots. The power has to come from something. That something has to be biult by someone somewhere. Nimby means that will take decades.

I might suggest doing a little research on vehicle-to-grid and demand side response technology. Millions of EVs plugged into chargers equates to many gigawatthours of instant on-demand storage capacity. EVs are primarily charged overnight when supply outweighs demand, and their charge controllers can dynamically alter the charge rate in response to grid load. The transition to EVs and the transition to renewable energy goes hand-in-hand; relatively modest investments in local power distribution infrastructure combined with intelligent control systems could have a vastly positive impact on the stability of a grid with predominantly renewable generation capacity.

In theory. I haven't seen any actual implementation whereby road vehicles would be discharged onto the grid during peak demand.

The EV drivers I've talked to, every one of them, are simply not open to the idea of discharging their vehicles back onto the grid. It isn't about money. They don't want the hassle of a discharged car, nor the wear on their batteries. The potential money involved (a few dollars at most) is totally irrelevant to them. Dedicated deep-cycle bats, lead acid cells, are the better option for grid tied storage.


The majority of charging in Western Europe will happen overnight and at home, combine that with 'smart chargers', which are technologically trivial, appropriate tariffs giving a discount in exchange for flexible demand overnight, and a thirty year period to make the transition (even if all new cars were electric from 2035), and I doubt the impact on the grid will be that dramatic. You will actually likely have improved utilization of existing assets, coupled with a lot of extra revenue going to power companies, away from oil companies. Motorway charging systems, which will be a small minority of total charging, will need ongoing grid upgrades, but spikes in demand can be buffered by trickle charging batteries, and dealing with increased electricity demand can scale gradually and incrementally as the transition occurs over that 30 year period. The infrastructure improvements will likely come under national infrastructure provisions which limit planning objections. I actually think the grid transition will mostly happen without people realizing.

Of cars. But cars are not anywhere near the bulk of IC engine capacity. Between trucks, trains, ships and construction equipment, there is a huge amount of power that will have to come from somewhere. Those devices don't just commute twice a day then sit in a garage charging. They basically run all day, in some cases 24/7 (trucks/trains). They will need a steady supply from some sort of power plant/grid.

Aren’t most European trains already electric?

Commuter trains, yes. "Most european trains" also probably yes as that would include the commuters. But if we are talking about replacing one engine system with another, the real measure is horsepower. Diesel is still a norm for long-haul freight, the real heavy lifting. In total amount of horsepower being used, diesel is still king. There are many reasons for this, the big one being a lack of standardization among European countries re overhead power supplies. A diesel can drive across boarders without worry about voltage or current changes.

And I do laugh a little when they talk about removing the internal combustion trains. Nobody is talking about the external combustion trains, the steam trains. They are carbon nightmares but we keep them for nostalgic rides and movies about wizards. Will we do the same with diesels?


It seems that you’re arguing with a straw man because these bans which are being talked about are for road transport, no government is proposing to ban IC ships, trains, and farm and construction equipment over that time frame, although it will likely be the case that a programme of electrification will be continued and stepped up. Similarly I don’t know why you’re talking about steam engines, they are totally insignificant.

Nobody is talking about external combustion trains because you can count them on your fingers. The amount of coal they use is minuscule in the grand scheme of things. They also don't tend to run through inner cities.

Yep. That's the current problem. They have built a ton of wind-farms out in the north sea and have industry in the very south of the country. So they want to build a set of power-lines that connects these places called SuedLink. They started sometime around 2014 and are still only a fraction of the way there.

So charging in the north will be fine, not so much in the middle or south.

Nobody wants a giant power-line around them and they faced stiff protests against the routes. If I recall correctly, they now want to bury the power-lines underground to avoid some of the public opposition.

In the meantime Germany is switching off its nuclear infrastructure (because people hate that too) so that they can buy nuclear power from France (which is perfectly fine?).

Also Germany spent billions on the green energy initiative in the past decade and is still hooked ~35% on lignite, one of the most polluting sorts of coal out there.

Without the power-lines that bring green energy from the sea, the e-car revolution will be difficult (unless we want to burn coal of course).

Established modern society is so dysfunctional when it comes to big projects that aim to change an existing system.


Yes there's work to do, but it's not insurmountable. The National Grid in the UK has already said it would support"a more ambitious target” than the UK Government has set for the end to ICE vehicles.

Infrastructure isn't a big challenge, and plenty of utilities have some out stating this.

The biggest change will probably time-of-use pricing for the places that don't have it. EVs can be charged overnight very easily, when the grid is underutilized. If you encourage this with pricing, you actually even out grid demand and make it easier to manage.


There's lots of spare capacity in the electrical grid. It's built to handle peak load (late afternoon/early evening). This can be solved with simple economic incentives to charge more for electricity at peak times. The cars are already smart enough to be programmed to charge themselves over night. Plug them in when you get home, and then they start charging once peak is over, with plenty of time to finish topping up by morning (especially considering most people won't drive close to a full battery's worth on the average day).

If all the country's cars are charging overnight, do you think that that might come to be considered "peak" or become otherwise more expensive electricity?

In that case all you need is dynamic time of day pricing and a feedback mechanism to the cars. Or you could give control of the car batteries to the power companies, and let them charge them by X oclock, this has already been suggested as part of a virtual power station type setup.

The point is that you'd charge them off-peak, whenever that might be. The ideal scenario would be no more peaks or troughs at all, yielding a perfectly level baseline at all times, moderated by all the grid-attached batteries in vehicles and buildings that are smartly choosing when to draw (or even feed back) power.

And the majority of the nation's electricity usage will never be for automobile transportation, even if 100% of vehicles were electric. There's simply too many other big consumers of electricity.


It seems more likely that the Chinese market will be the important rule setter when it comes to cars. They push electric adoption heavily.

I actually think there will be a dramatic uptake in Western Europe. Petrol taxation is a strong lever, a car rated at 40mpg actually gets 30mpg in real world usage, you drive that car for 100,000 miles and it costs more than £15,000 in petrol, a real world 20mpg costs more than £25,000 over the same distance.

VW is planning to sell its ID hatchback for about the same as the diesel equivalent, the cost savings are far higher, the range is 200 miles plus, it can charge in 30 minutes, which most people will only use on roadtrips, when glad of the break after 3 hours of driving. By launch in 2020, a charging network will be in place across the motorway network.

In Western Europe the barriers to mass adoption are fading.


The main barrier to adoption is the lack of charging infrastructure. In cities, where EVs make most sense, nobody has a garage. IMHO the state should step in and build charging infrastructure instead of lowering taxes for EVs or subsidizing their purchase.

Plenty of people have parking spots even if they don't have garages. Adding a charger to those is easy. Street parking does need many more chargers.

I think it goes beyond cities, in England 200 miles will get you half way across the country, even someone in suburban or rural areas could charge from home and carry on as normal 99 days out of 100. And the motorway network for that one day is being rolled out.

Which makes sense from the production side: electric cars nullifies American, Japanese, and European expertises in internal combustion engines. It levels the playing field for Chinese automakers. This is partly why Germany and Europe have been so reluctant to embrace electric cars. Warren Buffet had this insight about a decade ago when Berkshire Hathaway invested in Chinese electric car makers. Incredible.

You mean 2 decades from now?

It’s a little premature to worry about an EU ban.

Investing in battery R&D is probably important now. Meeting the requirements of China is also important.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phase-out_of_fossil_fuel_vehic...

2025: Norway

2030 EU: Sweden, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark

2030 Non-EU: India, Israel

---

If you take a lifetime of 20+ years for new vehicles into account, and you want to be phased out by 2050, you need to ban in 2030. Very simple. Maybe you don't need a full ban, maybe strong incentives suffice (see China). But full bans have been enacted in law in very substantial markets already.


Those deadlines are aspirational, not realistic based on actual vehicle production capacity or energy supplies. In 2030 the majority of new passenger vehicles will still contain internal combustion engines, although those may just be components of plug-in hybrid systems. Governments will end up allowing a lot of extensions and exceptions.

Then Norway has a very different interpretation of the word "aspirational".

From https://electrek.co/2019/01/02/electric-car-sales-norway-201...

> 45% of new cars were all-electric and 60% were plug-in in October 2018. The Nissan Leaf was the most popular all-electric vehicle in the market.


That’s because electric vehicles are heavily subsidized in Norway.

It's not so much that electrics are subsidized. More that fossil-fuel vehicles are heavily taxed.


To be clear, electric vehicles in Norway cost the same or more as they do in (eg) the United States.

The difference is that there are heavy taxes on fossil fuel vehicles that do not apply to electrics, making the relative difference in cost between electrics and fossils much smaller.

(Yes, there are also many fringe benefits like free/discounted road tolls and HOV lane access, but as your article mentions, many of those are already being rolled back)


So it's not aspirational, but real law backed by real money and government investment.

If VW offers a wide range of EVs at reasonable prices the argument that we need extensions and exceptions will be hard to make. VWs move creates a regulatory environment beneficial to VWs move.

TCO of EVs is about the same now and will be considerably better than ICE in the next years.

How many consumers will be willing to pay a premium for outdated technology? This could switch quickly with electric energy and power grids being the bigger bottlenecks.

At least Grid operators are deeply worried about the upcoming transition.


FWIW the Norway one was widely reported as a ban, but it is not. The official government policy is that they "have a goal that all new cars should be zero emission (ZEV) in 2025".

Nobody who's actually crunched the numbers thinks this is realistic (that we reach 100% new cars are ZEV), but maybe we'll reach 60% by 2025. Currently we're at 30% of new cars are ZEV, up from 10% in 2014, and it's highly likely we will see a sigmoid growth curve with a long tail.

One of the issues is that a very large portion of Norwegians like to ski in winter (which typically requires a roof box) and to go e.g. boating or caravaning etc. in summer (which typically requires a tow hitch). Currently there are exactly zero EVs on the market that can do both of those things.


I don't believe that a large proportion of Norwegians own boats and need tow hitches with which to move them around. Do you have a source on that?

A roof box can be attached to pretty much any vehicle, and if the market in Norway demands it then EV manufacturers can pretty easily add roof hooks for mounting as an option in-country if they don't already. There's no fundamental incompatibility with EVs here. Google searches reveal that plenty of people are already mounting roof boxes to Teslas, so this is already a solved problem.


I'm talking abut someone who has a boat OR caravan OR does home improvement and needs a trailer, easily 30% of the population. It's important to keep in mind that Norway has low income inequality and high median income. Average middle class person can easily afford a boat.

As a data point, on the Norwegian version of Craigslist (Finn) the number of boats for sale right now is 10% of the number of cars for sale, the number of caravans is 5%, and we're still in winter season.

There certainly will be EVs (or maybe hydrogen powered cars) that meet requirements of this demographic at some point. But they won't be available in volume at a price point people can afford before 2025, especially not when EV subsidies have started phasing out.


As an additional point of data - there is one registered trailer for every two cars in Norway: 1.4 million trailers and 2.7 million cars. For reference, we're almost exactly at one car per household.

https://www.ssb.no/en/transport-og-reiseliv/statistikker/bil...


A roof box on an electric vehicle - also known as "how to kill your range"...

Huh? The aerodynamic effects are exactly the same as on an ICE car. What's under the hood doesn't matter here. You'll get equally reduced range in a gasoline car, and pay more for the privilege to boot.

Toyota RAV4 EV: https://www.toyota.com/rav4ev/

Tows 400+ kilos and has a roof box.


With tow ratings you subtract the weight inside the vehicle. At a tow rating of 800lbs you're not going to be pulling much of anything, and with a 41 kW/h battery it is not going to be going far at all either while towing.

I would love to replace our ICE tow vehicle with an electric if any existed, but the electric range would drop by at least half while towing. That's a lot of stopping.

As a comparison a v6 Dodge Durango's tow capacity is 6200lbs/2800kg. A v6 tow vehicle is a part-time tow vechile not intended for large loads. That durango can pull some boats and smaller camper trailers. We have used it to haul rock/gravel/stone as well. Electric would be great because the transmission wouldn't be as much of a concern but it would definitely need a lot of battery and would need a larger cooling system for the batteries and motors just like ICE tow vehicles need larger fuel tanks and larger radiators.


For comparison, a 400 kg tow rating you get on a Fiat 500 with the 0.9 L three-cylinder petrol engine...

2025 does seem challenging. But remember that it's new car sales. People will operate their ICE cars for decades after that date.

And in the context of the discussion of VW's investment the difference between 80% of the market being ZEV and 100% is not that big...


By 2021, phased in from 2020, the fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre. This means a fuel consumption of around 4.1 l/100 km of petrol or 3.6 l/100 km of diesel.

To encourage eco-innovation, manufacturers can be granted emission credits equivalent to a maximum emissions saving of 7 g/km per year for their fleet if they equip vehicles with innovative technologies, based on independently verified data. [0]

So this move is more of a combination of short-term gains of less-restrictive emissions, and a long-term move to electric.

[0] https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport/vehicles/cars_...


> the fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre. This means a fuel consumption of around 4.1 l/100 km of petrol or 3.6 l/100 km of diesel.

This means nothing due to the idiotic way fuel consumption is calculated for PHEV. A 2+ ton hybrid SUV like the Volvo XC90 is rated as 2,1 liters/100 Km while it easily burns 10+ liters when the battery is empty or the electric engine can't keep up (i.e. on the highway).


Just as a reference, that's 57mpg for petrol and 65mpg for diesel, and that's average, not peak, for all cars. A good diesel estate might average 50mpg if driven carefully, but in towns a lot less. So there's a long way to go. Companies will need to build/sell/operate a lot of tiny cars, or definitely have significant electric and hybrid parts of the fleet.

> A good diesel estate might average 50mpg if driven carefully, but in towns a lot less.

Going to fuelly.com, newer Golf TDIs seem to average out at 40 mpg, with the tails trailing out by +/- 5mpg:

* http://www.fuelly.com/car/volkswagen/golf?engineconfig_id=10...

The older 1.9L engines are slightly better.


Ah yes, i forgot Americans gallons are 4/5 size. Adjust data accordingly, so i did mean 40mpg US! (Most modern diesel estates(station wagons) do up to and sometimes over that, such as mazda 6, Ford Mondeo)

> By 2021, phased in from 2020, the fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre. This means a fuel consumption of around 4.1 l/100 km of petrol or 3.6 l/100 km of diesel.

Whew, that's going to be interesting. Toyota can hit that with the Prius Eco... if that was the only car in their fleet.


Well, they can easily achieve this with plug-in hybrids (and obviously battery-electric cars) just by tightening up the average distance a car is driven per day. My PHEV is averaging a solid 300+ MPG, because I fill the tank every 2000 miles, because I only drive it 20 miles on most days. Tolls and sensible development patterns can lead to shorter trips.

I love that page, I haven't seen a comprehensive policy document that was so readable.

It’s not premature because savvy buyers are going to soon start realizing that ICE car resale value will plummet fast and hard as good electrics roll out with good infrastructure.

As someone buying today, I have to factor in that (say) five years from now when I sell, the buyers at that time will be thinking about their resale prospects (say) five years from that date. And for ICE cars, it’s not going to be pretty.

I would suggest, if you have an ICE car, trade it in now while you can still get more money for it.


The average car is over 11 years old and many of us drive a car for 15 or so years until it basically has no value. Resale value doesn’t enter into the buying calculus of a lot of people.

In the UK most new cars are bought on personal lease plans, fairly short and the cost is dependent on the resale value of the car at the end of the lease.

Yes ymmv but it’s something that some people will consider.

That only means it will get less expensive to buy and operate an ICE vehicle, especially as the demand for fuel decreases and the price for it goes down as well. For those using an ICE vehicle for transportation and not as investment that is only a good thing

It could go the other way, if there are enough electric cars on the road the infrastructure for ICE cars will shrink and get more expensive.

I imagine there will be taxes and fees coming along to make the cost of ownership quite different from what you think.

The fact that you will be subsidizing other people's transportation costs in the future is little consolation for the loss. Particularly when you're subsidizing pollution.

> I would suggest, if you have an ICE car, trade it in now while you can still get more money for it.

Just as soon as I can get a low-cost, 300 mile range 4wd vehicle, that I can put on 30+ inch tires and a 3-6 inch lift.

Until the battery tech gets a helluva lot better, that ain't happening.

Furthermore - even if it does happen (which it probably will at some point - I'm optimistic) - it still doesn't fix the next problem:

How do I tote along an extra "10 gallons" of electric fuel with me?

You see, when you are off-roading, you typically will take extra fuel with you. An extra 5 or 10 gallons of gasoline can mean the difference between hiking out or getting back to pavement with your vehicle, depending on what happened to get you stuck to need the fuel. It can also mean extending a trip, or seeing side trails you normally wouldn't be able to. Or being able to do a much longer trail and having the fuel to take you to a nearby gas station at the end.

But I can't see with current battery technology - nor even future technology - being able to do anything like that. You'd probably need a trailer or something to haul around the extra batteries, or you'd have to haul a generator (which would also require fuel...). Forget solar panels, because you wouldn't be able to carry enough panels to be able to charge up the batteries in the same amount of time you could pour a tank of gasoline - no where close to it. Heck, even if you had 1000 watts of panels with you, it would still take at least a day or two to recharge the pack, most likely.

I'm not sure what the solution is for that situation. Maybe a battery that got you double the miles (4-600 miles per charge?), or what I suspect a lot of people would say (don't go off roading...)

For now, I'm sticking with my ICE vehicles until that problem is solved; there may come a time when I'd have an electric just to get to work and back, but that'd be about it for now.


If you think about what you’re doing to the land you rip up while off-roading, the don’t-go-off-roading solution merits a look. As a hiker, if you could see yourself from my eyes, you would not like what you see. [Edit: ok there are better and worse practices of off-roading and maybe I shouldn’t assume you are not responsible... so disregard that if it doesn’t apply]. But yeah it would mean giving up some kinds of pleasure you’re indulging in now. That’s for you to decide.

As for the dream vehicle you describe, yeah electric won’t deliver that because for example the Tesla pickup and the Rivian won’t be cheap (one of your requirements). But there are costs you aren’t accounting for and probably never will if you’re this deep into it.

BTW Tesla AWD is insane and a step beyond normal AWD you are used to. So (when the truck comes out) the extra money is getting you something. The AWD is not the only thing of course but it is holy shit crazy good in their sedans, I can only imagine how it will be in the pickup.


You've already touched on it a bit, but yes there are responsible off-roaders out there that work to minimize the amount of impact that they have on the lands that they traverse through. A lot of these folks will avoid areas that hikers and horse riders frequent. Of course, there are also asshole off-roaders too but the same can be said for everyone.

Agreed. And I should have taken more care to say that I don’t look at all off-roaders the same way.

Things move slowly in the world of Big Automotive. A new model can easily get worked on for 5 years. If they are planning on having an electric version of each of there models, they need to be making this investment ASAP.

I doubt that decisions of this magnitude are taken in spite of the big players or without their participation.

Calling it a ban is a bit over the top but it is going in that direction. Many cities in the EU are banning cars that pollute a lot. I've no doubt the definition of how bad they have to pollute will be tightened over time. If you are a carmaker with no electric cars it will be the same as a ban in the end. Most (all?) countries in the EU are also either lowering/removing registration taxes on electric cars or raising it on everything else.

So the decision has already been made. We are basically just in a grace period.


A shame, that. A company with a large investment in a technology that causes immense harm is probably not one you want to consult on ongoing policy.

Dieselgate killed people. If they'd dumped poison in the water supply and lied about it the reaction would've been far harsher, but apparently it's ok to poison people via the air.


VW also causes immense employment and brings an immense amount of money into Germany. It's not that simple. Germany isn't a dictatorship. They can't take unilateral action that harms its populace and say "just deal, it's good for you in the long run"

But.... volkswagen can?

The state of North Rhine/Westphalia owns like 21% of VW group. I would expect they might deprecate the statistically-implied deaths resulting from selling noncompliant cars vs. the very concrete loss of jobs and revenue should that might result from regulation.

The big players in this case are Global Warming and air quality in cities, not the car manufacturers.

Not to mention China which is literally doing that, just gradually.


Why is that even an issue?

Build a electric car which needs less components, less repair and can actually be refuelled at home.

In worst case, put a range extender into it. Doesn't cost much and just burns fuel as before.

The only risk could be that batterie technology just suddenly stops. But i would argue that its quite a save bet.

And it doesn't has to do anything with saving the environment.

There is obvious a technolgy change happening. It might be unclear how long it still takes or if global warming hits us quicker but sitll.


The “at home” is very tricky in Europe (Western) where most (like almost all) of the people live in flats.

No one said that today everyone has to be able to do it. The transition takes decades.

But now still a lot of people, especially those with a car, could load there cars at home.

Also we had this dicussion in our meeting for the house (munich underground parking) and the pressure wasn't high enough yet but the needed effort to allow a power outlet on your underground parking spot, is relatively low.

As long as you only need normal powercord, you just put it on the ceiling.


That doesn't mean they don't have a parking spot. Most flats include them and states are passing laws that say you can install chargers in your space. Street parking does need more chargers as well and cities are adding them.

> Most flats include them and states are passing laws that say you can install chargers in your space.

That certainly can't be cheap. The cost of the charger aside, you'd still have the costs of:

  1. Permits and inspections of the work.
  2. Trenching costs for the electrical line.
  3. Survey work to make sure it doesn't interfere with other underground stuff.
  4. Materials and time for the mounting pad.
  5. ...and probably a ton of other things I don't know about.
On an individual basis, it would seem to make little sense. Plus - is there a standard for chargers yet? Unless it's just a standard (for whatever country) plug, I don't know if EV manufacturers have standardized on a particular charger style so that any vehicle type can plug into a charger (I'm thinking more of the case where somebody either sells their EV and buys another, or sells their flat and moves, the next buyer with a different EV, etc).

Maybe it's not as big a deal as I am thinking (owner takes charger, leaves infrastructure behind for next owner to mount theirs in place?)...


I think you're overthinking this. I'm planning on adding a charging point to my parking space. The building's shared garage already has power everywhere so I just need to install a meter and a standard power socket. The actual charger just plugs in there and if I change EV I just change the charger (or not since everything is moving to CCS hopefully). Neighbors have done it and it was quite simple. If it's an external parking lot without power already installed it may be harder but in cities this is the most common setup. I'm sure third-party parking garages that people use when their flat doesn't include one will also be doing these installations at scale to attract customers. It's really the equivalent of adding a few power sockets. For night time charging you don't want fast charging, 10kW is fine and 5kW probably enough and that's not a very complex electrical install.

The only actual issue I know of is that once the whole building is doing this because 90% of cars are EVs we're going to need more total power in the garage. Depending on the electrical infrastructure around you that may or may not be an easy thing to do. I suspect it's not a huge issue since we all together already have enough contracted power right now if you add up our individual circuits going to the actual flats. But maybe the electrical company is oversubscribed counting on low effective usage of the contracted power, I don't know.


A powercord is easy to install on ceiling etc. Supercharge might be slightly trickier.

But there is enough time to transition and not everyone will do it now.

Pressure also creates solution.


[flagged]


Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News? We're trying for slightly higher discussion quality here.

In addition to https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html, you might also find these links helpful for getting the spirit of this site:

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/hackernews.html

http://www.paulgraham.com/trolls.html

http://www.paulgraham.com/hackernews.html


Should we keep this game and play who can say yes and no or would you like to elaborate?

I don't know, I don't see how you're coming back from his savage & well-reasoned deconstruction of your core argument.

I started to worry about attitude of these articles, instead of reading it.

Not any more costly than their bet on diesel

I am not a paying WSJ customer, can anyone provide the text or a link that works?

(Note: Considering being a WSJ customer, but already a NYT customer so...)


Don't do it, if you live anywhere other than California they basically make it impossible to unsubscribe.


> No other car maker is betting anything like this kind of money on the new technology.

In fact, all German automakers are increasing leaning towards all EV future, that's VW Group, BMW AG and Daimler AG. The only holdout of major automakers that doesn't have significant buyin in 100% battery electric vehicle is Toyato.


Volkswagen Group was pushed as much as taking a bet.

Part of their settlement for the diesel emissions scandal was committing investments into EV and paying into funds to help US states transition.

On top of that they basically destroyed their diesel business. And they were also not the only cheats.

A few commentators have pointed out that if not for the scandal, we probably wouldn't have seen anything near as aggressive a push into switching from diesel vehicles to electric.


I find it fascinating that this seems to at least in part be a reaction to the scandal. Like a spouse whose indiscretion is found out and then decides to radically "come clean" about literally everything, having your screwup discovered might end up making you a better entity :)

Doesn’t China have EV quotas from 2019 onward for manufacturers?

If you don’t produce EVs, you’ll be restricted from the market?


Yes, in some cities in China, EVs are already effectively the only car type that can get a new numberplace.

TFA doesn't seem to add much new information to an old news story - am I missing something?

'Is there any credible doubt that electric cars are the future?' I think in the near term yes. Hybrid is the only viable next generation of vehicles, with full EV possibly after that.

Hybrid was only a stop gap until batteries reached the point they are today.

In markets (California and Norway in particular) where there is significant EV growth you are seeing Hybrid sales drop quickly.


I have a hybrid (from VW), my next car will be full EV. I expect to buy this within a one or two years.

I'm in California. EVs are a tiny niche market, battery tech still has massive mileage and safety issues to overcome and the grid is not fit for purpose in most parts of the world.

China are building out scale EV infrastructure and since they are the main global market for vehicles going forward it seems inevitable they will ultimately own the EV transportation and infrastructure markets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_grid_in_China


If you ran into the wsj's paywall, you can get past it with outline.com

Paywalled; thought HN didn't permit these links?

Wv is currently close to nowhere in electric cars, and few advances they got are in China, where SAIC makes thinks for them...



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