Is the Electric Car Revolution Real or Hype?

electric cars

I’ve spent the last 24 hours immersed in the future of electric vehicles. Actually, I spend way more time researching and analysing this massive opportunity. But at least in the last day my focus has been 100% on EVs, their tech, their future and the opportunities in play today.

I even had a chance to get to the first public viewing in the UK of Jaguar’s new I-Pace EV. The I-Pace was released last week at the Geneva Motor Show. Apparently it created quite a stir. But yesterday morning in the light, London drizzle I got to see the thing with my own two eyes.

First public viewing in the UK of Jaguar’s new I-Pace EV. 16-03-2018

[Click to enlarge]

The I-Pace is the first real EV released by a major carmaker to go head to head with Tesla’s premium line-up.

The I-Pace is going to be an alternative to Tesla’s Model X and even Model S. According to Jaguar, the I-Pace can ‘out drag’ the Model X in acceleration and braking — for those of you who gun it from traffic light to traffic light.

It is a beautiful looking thing. It’s spacious, luxurious. The boot is a little smaller than I expected. But it also has a claimed range of around 300 miles.

The point being this is a sign of what’s to come.

Coincidentally I also received an email yesterday from Audi UK. Now I don’t know if somehow they knew — or Google knew — where I was yesterday. It’s likely they did…which is terrifying, but an issue for another day.

But the point is this email from Audi UK had the subject line, ‘All Electric. All Audi. The Audi e-tron quattro concept.’

They say,

Introducing our first-ever all-electric car. The Audi e-tron quattro concept: the prototype of our next-generation SUV, powered entirely by electricity. With a range of over 310 miles,* aerodynamic design and advanced, intelligent features, it’s not just 100% electric. It’s 100% Audi.’

What this means is that the major manufacturers are building EVs.

Now, here the tricky part. They’re not 100% sure that it’s a winning strategy. What you’ll find is that the major manufacturers (Mercedes, VW, BMW, etc.) are hedging their bets.

We all know Tesla is going ‘all in’ on EVs. But is that the right move?

One day in the distant future I have no doubt that every car on the road will not have an internal combustion engine. And while I’ve been a big proponent of EV technology, I’m not 100% convinced any more that it’s coming at us as rapidly as we might think.

It’s not really a matter of if EVs and fuel cell cars are coming. The real trillion-dollar question is when? Is it within five years, 10 years…or 50 years?

What it comes down to is the difference between making these new technologies and actually selling them in the real world. 

The statement car

We all know that some people like to be early adopters of new tech. These are the people that queue up to buy the latest iPhone. They’re the ones that now have a Google Glass in the cupboard gathering dust. They’ve got a cabinet of new tech, some truly breakthrough, some now a relic.

I’m one of them. I’ve got a handful of things that are early versions of breakthrough tech. I’ve got Amazon’s Alexa. I’ve got a motion sensor wristband that you can control devices with. I’ve got a bunch of tech. Some good, some rubbish. I’d consider myself an early adopter.

When it comes to EVs, they’re so early stage that the current buyers really are early adopters. The buyers of Tesla don’t think to themselves, ‘I need a big family sedan, I’m going to buy a Tesla.’ They think, ‘I’m going to buy an EV — I’m buying a Tesla.’ It’s their statement car. It’s a head turner. These are EV early adopters.

The Tesla is the first iPhone of the car world.

But as we know, after the first iPhone came other versions, and eventually competition.

You might be thinking, wow, Tesla could become as successful in cars as Apple did in smartphones! But cool your jets for a minute.

There’s a big difference between developing and making a $1,000 phone versus developing and making a $100,000 car.

Furthermore, it’s one thing to make and sell 50,000 to 100,000 cars per year. It’s another thing to make and sell 500,000 to over one million.

And the competition is coming for Tesla. The likes of Jaguar, VW Group (Audi, Porsche, VW, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini, etc.), GM, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota…they’re all coming with EVs.

But these big carmakers aren’t 100% convinced the market is ready to go 100% EV. They know the infrastructure isn’t in place. They know that people that live in apartment blocks don’t have garages to charge their EVs overnight.

They know that people in regional Australia still need a Hilux or Land Cruiser, and have to travel long distances every day. They know that demand isn’t a broad brush. It’s country, city, and region specific.

You might be able to sell a load of premium EVs to Toorak or Double Bay buyers wanting to make a ‘statement’. But are you going to sell the same car to buyers in Redfern or Craigieburn? The residents of Toronto or Berlin might be all over EVs for urban driving. But what about those in Houston or Daytona?

It’s not what they make, but how they make it

The fact is that today when it comes to car buying there are choices. Diesel, petrol, plug in hybrid and a few EVs. There are 1.5L four cylinder engines, 3.0L six cylinder engines, 6.3L V8 engines, and everything in between.

The future will phase out those internal combustion engines. But there will still be choices. There will be plug in hybrids still, EVs, fuel cell cars. And even then the EVs might be a mix of lithium ion batteries, nickel metal batteries, solid-state batteries, and maybe a chemical mix we don’t know about yet.

Even then, the endgame of this non-combustion engine world might not happen at all. The ultimate success of EVs and a future of new car powertrains relies solely on one group of people.

Car buyers. People like you.

You need to want to buy an EV. You’re the one that has to decide if you can deal with range anxiety. Or if you’ve got the space to charge a car at home for 10 hours each night.

The car companies really can’t predict the demand for EVs. They’re flying blind. They think that EV adoption will increase. It will, over time. But it won’t necessarily be a huge blast in one hit.

Or maybe it will.

There are a number of scenarios that could eventuate. They all have EVs and fuel cell cars in the future. But it’s all at different saturations. The good news is, while we don’t know how it will play out for sure, you can play the energy opportunity here and get access to all scenarios.

It comes down to looking beyond the mainstream views of the EV market.

It comes down to understanding not what they make, but how they make it.

If you understand that key difference, you could profit from the biggest energy opportunity we’ve seen since the early 1900s. Or conversely, still profit from the most over-hyped revolution since…Minidisc.

Sam Volkering,
Editor, Secret Crypto Network

Sam Volkering

Sam Volkering is Editor for Money Morning and its small-cap, cryptocurrency and technology expert. Find out what he has to say here with all his latest articles.

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