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Electric Vehicles – Part of the Solution, but No Magic Bullet

Electric vehicles - Choose your weapon.
Electric vehicles – Choose your weapon.

If the werewolf is climate change, then we’ve been feeding the wolf too much, when what we really need is a silver bullet. The question is, who’s loading the gun and with what? Given that transportation covers about a third of emissions, at least in the US, or about a sixth of global emissions, one might think of electric vehicles as one of those bullets.

Now, it’s not like Tesla Motors is the only player in the game, as just about every automaker has at least a hybrid vehicle, if not a plug-in hybrid or pure electric vehicle, in their lineups. We’re really looking forward to seeing how far vehicles such as the Tesla Model 3, Chevy Bolt, and Nissan Leaf, can really go, but Tesla did something that could put electric vehicles on the fast-track, opening up the patent wall to anyone wanting to develop their own electric vehicles and fast-charging systems.

Tesla wants to see 500,000 Tesla Model 3 per year after it starts production. On the other hand, other manufacturers aren’t so, let’s say, “confidence-inspiring.” Where Tesla has been aggressively pushing its right to sell, other cars, such as the Fiat 500e, are nearly impossible to find outside of California. Still, come calculations suggest that electric vehicles could see enough penetration into global markets to stagnate fuel consumption, returning them to 2014 levels, but not for another 25 to 35 years. Is it enough to get back to last year’s levels, though?

So, no, electric vehicles aren’t the magic bullet, but just one of them. Get your six-shooter ready, because it needs loading.

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  1. Yes, electric cars are part of the solution. They are no magic bullet. But we also have to look at the big picture of other benefits that electric cars give.

    1) Bringing down the cost of batteries, which will help make a renewable grid cheaper to implement, even without renewable energy it helps mitigate wasteful peaker plants.

    2) People who buy an electric car will have a larger electric bill (of course much smaller than their gas bill). But it makes them more likely to get solar panels on their roof.

    3) As electric cars become more common, and battery prices drop. They will enter niche markets like tractors. Thus reducing some strain on agriculture.


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