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2020 – The Year of the Electric Car?

2020 – The Year of the Electric Car?

“Yes, my grandfather worked with Thomas
Edison on the electric car, and he sold electric cars at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris.”
~ Al Jardine, The Beach Boys It turns out electric cars have been around
for a long time. The world’s first practical electric car
was driven along a Paris Street in 1881 – the Gustave Trouvé Tricycle. The first production electric car was built
in 1884 in London by English Inventor Thomas Parker. Actually, the first vehicle to break the 100km/h
speed barrier was a Belgian electric car, the Jamais Contente (pardon my French), driven
by Belgian race car driver Camille Jenatzy in 1899. In the early 1900s in America, 40% of vehicles
were steam-powered, 38% electric, and 22% gasoline. This is a picture of Thomas Edison posing
in front of an electric car in 1913. Actually, early American electric cars were
somewhat stigmatised by the perception that they were “women’s cars”. They didn’t require the user to change gears,
they didn’t have the smell, vibrations, and noise of petrol-powered cars, and they
didn’t require any effort to start (petrol-powered cars at the time relied on a hand crank). However, due to their slow speed, low range,
lack of charging infrastructure, and their expensive price tag, the electric vehicle
lost the race for automobile dominance. Thanks to the introduction of the mass production
of the Ford Model T by Henry Ford, the price of petrol-powered cars fell dramatically. They were more reliable, could travel a lot
further for cheaper, and cost only about half as much as an electric vehicle at that time. Petrol was king and consumer electric vehicles
were lost in the annals of history — Until recently that is. In 2006, Tesla Motors unveiled the ultra-sporty
Tesla Roadster having a decent range of almost 400km, but with the fairly hefty price tag
of US$98,950. It was never really going to reach a mass
market, but it did pique people’s interest. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV was released in Japan
in 2009, obviously targeting a much different audience, but at a price tag of $48,800 in
Australia, it was still seen as being too expensive for what you got and never really
made a dent in the market. One thing that history has taught us is that
price matters. If an electric vehicle is more expensive that
it’s petrol counterpart, then sales will be weak. Anyway, enough of the history lesson. Let’s jump forward to 2020. American company Tesla are actually scheduled
to roll out their very first Chinese-produced car in Shanghai today (that is, 30 December
2019). Obviously, the reason they’re producing
cars in China is for the cheap labour and production costs, plus the local tax incentives. The Model 3, which will be built in the factory,
will be priced from about US$50,000, so still not quite at a price level that will make
it a mass-market vehicle. However, it was the best-selling electric
vehicle in the US in 2019 by a long margin, making up 63% of all electric vehicle sales. But 2020 on the other hand, might just be
the year when things start to really shine for electric vehicles. Tesla predict that they’ll be able to reduce
the price of the Model 3 by about 20% in 2020 as it starts to use more locally-produced
components and reduces its costs. German automaker Volkswagen have announced
that they’re accelerating their move into electric cars. They predict they will achieve their goal
of 1 million electric cars per year two years earlier than planned, that is, they plan to
produce a million battery-powered cars in 2023 instead of 2025, and could potentially
reach 1.5 million cars per year by the end of 2025. That’s a lot of electric cars flooding the
market from a single company. VW are planning to raise their production
and increase the sales figures of their ID.3 model which should be priced at less than
€30,000 (so about AU$48,000). It’s said to have a range of up to 550 km,
so that will certainly curtail everyone’s range-anxiety fears. For the first time, Volkswagen have offered
pre-booking for the ID.3 with over 37,000 customers having reserved the car to date. Production of the ID.3 began last month from
VW’s massive Zwickau factory in Germany. But still, in my opinion, the price tag of
the ID.3 is a bit steep for a mass-market vehicle. I would suggest that it would have to come
down substantially before Volkswagen can really hit that 1-million-electric-cars-a-year figure. A similar-sized VW Golf can be bought for
about $25,000 in Australia, so who’s going to pay double that for the ID.3? It will take some massive market forces for
ordinary people to start buying electric cars instead of petrol ones. I might be wrong though. China, of course, are really going full steam
ahead when it comes to electric vehicle production. However, sales have fallen in recent months
partly due to the Chinese government significantly limiting their New Energy Vehicle incentives. Australia isn’t doing much better with the
Victorian and New South Wales governments considering introducing a tax on electric
vehicles. Why? Because electric vehicle owners won’t pay
fuel excise as they won’t be using fuel. Currently, that’s more than 41c per litre
which brings in something like $12 billion a year in revenue. If you drive an electric vehicle, the Government
misses out on the tax, so naturally, they want to recoup their losses by charging you
to drive. Not exactly the best way to encourage people
to use an electric car. One idea that is being bandied about is for
electric car owners to be slugged with a per-kilometre charge. That is, the more you drive, the more tax
you will pay, not dissimilar to the current fuel excise. In theory, the tax is designed to pay for
road maintenance and infrastructure, but in reality, it gets diverted to the federal budget’s
consolidated revenue fund. Anyway, what are your thoughts? Will 2020 be the year that the electric vehicle
market really takes off? What will it take for the average consumer
to make the switch? Are the vehicles still too expensive? Are governments compounding the issue by trying
to get their grubby little hands in on everything? Should we be rewarding electric vehicle owners,
not taxing them? Let me know your thoughts below.

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14 thoughts on “2020 – The Year of the Electric Car?

  1. Its very interesting you have made a video on this. I have an idea that you can make a video can i have your email address thanks.

  2. At some point, the inadequacy of the electricity distribution infrastructure will reveal itself to be another limiting factor to their uptake. The deterioration in battery performance (range) and replacement cost will prove to be yet another.

  3. Ill stick to Prius you can fill up and it get double range of most other cars 3.9l per 100 less on the HWY and will sit on 110 all day NT 130k is a little much.

  4. The way things are with more and more people earning less and increasing numbers struggling with even basic living costs I think it's fair to say the electric car is going to be a rarity for a very long time yet… certainly longer than you or I am around.

  5. A was a passenger in an electric car for the first time on Christmas Day. It was a Hyundia Ioniq – full electric version. It's so quiet. Really takes off a traffic lights, only one can't hear the engine. It's also part self-driving, as it slows and stops when approaching traffic lights. Plus it maintains a safe distance from the car ahead. The self-steering isn't reliable. However, if one steers out of lane, it starts beeping to warn you.

  6. Could be the year we realize petrol is actually better.
    Also we should neither reward nor penalize petrol or electric. The market should decide. Whenever the government is involved, the wrong choice will be made.
    You damn communist

  7. Will need new battery technology, not enough lithium on the planet for everyone to have an electric vehicle with current battery technology and mining practices are extremely destructive to the environment.

  8. Electric cars are the way that the wealthiest people in the world assuage their guilt for living a high consumption lifestyle. Electric cars still rely on very high embodied energy and resources, not just the cars of course, but the road and parking systems required for cars.

    The low impact alternative is the bicycle. Electric bikes, even when powered by coal power plants can produce less (total life cycle) greenhouse gas emissions than an equivalent bike ridden by a human breathing out CO2.

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