A lecturer wrote that it will be another 10 years before electric vehicles truly “matter” in Forbes this week.
Leaving aside the fact that one could argue that despite their small market share, hybrids and plug-in vehicles already matter, at least when it comes to the conversation about automobiles and the automotive market and industry, there’s also the fact that it’s hard to define exactly what it means to “matter.”
Earl J. Ritchie, whose bio lists him as a lecturer in the department of construction management at the University of Houston, argues that EVs are unlikely to significantly reduce American gasoline consumption anytime soon.
His arguments may sound familiar – he uses a Bloomberg sales forecast to suggest that plug-in vehicles will have just 10 percent market share by 2026, he points out that the market share is currently 1 percent (2 percent for non-plug-in hybrids), and because of this, it will take about a decade for the sales of hybrids and plug-in vehicles to reach the needed volume to significantly decrease American fuel consumption. He also says that the fuel-economy difference between hybrids/plug-ins and conventional gasoline-engine vehicles will need to be larger than it is now.
Ritchie cites Bloomberg as one source that suggest it will take a decade to reach that point, and he also points out that it will take time for existing vehicles to be retired.
He also mentions that even if current projections of how much oil consumption will be saved by EVs in the near-future are correct, he believes that emissions reductions will be less than expected, in part because EVs do produce some carbon dioxide.
Ritchie concludes by saying that even optimistic projections show that EVs won’t make a huge dent in fuel consumption or emissions, but once market penetration becomes deeper, EVs will start to make a difference. He then cites Bloomberg’s four factors for increased EV acceptance: Government incentives, automaker willingness to sacrifice profit, consumer willingness to pay more for electric powertrains and reduced battery cost.