Transportation Update – The EV Revolution

As a follow-up to the previous OWOE blog “What about transportation?”, OWOE visited a Tesla showroom the other day and viewed the Tesla Model P90S. It is a spectacular car and an impressive piece of engineering, but comes with a price tag of $144,000. There aren’t many people who can afford that. In addition it advertises a 253 mile range and 12 hours for a full recharge using a 240V charger. So, while we applaud Tesla for its groundbreaking efforts and it’s obvious success in creating excitement in the electric vehicle (EV) market, these numbers emphasize the hurdles EVs and the entire transportation industry need to overcome to move to a renewables future.

With that in mind, OWOE looks forward with great anticipation to the roll-out of two new mass market EVs: 1) the 2017 Chevy Bolt and 2) the Tesla Model 3.

2017 Chevy Bolt
2017 Chevy Bolt
Tesla Model 3 Concept Car
Tesla Model 3 Concept Car

The Bolt has received early praise, is stylishly designed, features advanced electronics, is advertised to cost in the $30,000 range (after federal tax rebates), will get better than 200 miles per charge, and will have the Chevrolet name and corporate power behind it. The Tesla Model 3 is expected to cost in the $35,000 range before rebates, which makes it competitive with the Bolt but with the upscale Tesla panache.

If we revisit the 5 major hurdles to EV adoption with the assumption that the Bolt and Model 3 will be successful,: 1) Number of models – we will have 2 new models in a previously missing segment of the market, i.e., for the typical, middle-class  family. 2) Price – initial prices will be competitive with gas engine vehicles in the mass market, with cost per mile to drive significantly less. 3) Limited range – these vehicle will be in the 200 mile range per charge which will make them attractive for all but the longest trips.  4) Charging time – we’ll still be looking to technology to improve here.  And 5) Charging infrastructure – supply and demand will fix this issue. 

With Tesla having created market excitement and owning the luxury end of the market, and the variety of other models demonstrating that the EV market is for real, just maybe the Bolt and the Model 3 will be the game changer products that lead the revolution in the transportation industry. Having said that, it will still be a slow evolution. Tesla’s goal of selling 500,000 cars per year by 2020, while aggressive for a start-up car company, needs to be viewed in the context of about 120 million gasoline powered cars currently on the road in the US. The reality of the numbers is that we’re talking about multiple decades for the transition from gas to electricity in the transportation field to play out. Unless, of course, the excitement in EVs builds in conjunction with other factors to drive the market more quickly. 


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