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2020: When the EV Breaks Out

EVs make up a relatively tiny part of US auto sales, but the Tesla 3 outsold all other luxury cars and almost outsold the Toyota Corolla. It's still too pricey, but it's coming down this summer and there's a new, lower-cost model on the way.

More Affordable
GM's Bolt EV gets about 240 miles of range, and costs about $36,000 before incentives, which total $9,000 (including rebates in some states) until April, when the federal incentive is cut in half. It's a great car, but for me the seat isn't comfortable.  The range is enough to allay your range anxiety; you can drive from Lancaster to NYC and back without recharging, depending on how you drive. You can charge while you're there in one of the hundreds of charging stations, many of which are in parking garages.

New and Interesting
Hyundai is coming out with the Kona, which has a range of about 240 miles; it's like the Honda HRV, a small crossover with a good amount of space relative to the Bolt (guessing). Hyundai isn't producing many of them yet.

Kia is expected to come out with the Niro EV, a close cousin of the Kona. Nissan just improved the range of the Leaf to 225 miles (optional), and the big news is VW announced that all car lines will have a long-range EV option.

EVs are Mainstream and Taking Over
In short, we're here. Electricity is cheaper than gas, even at today's low gas prices. 2020 will be the year the general public recognizes renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels. (If I were a responsible blogger I'd provide links, but alas).

Energy companies would be wise to move aggressively away from fossil fuels and toward renewables. They've been dabbling, but they're not trying to disrupt themselves. That's a mistake--they'll become the Kodak of energy, in a sense, if they don't move fast.

Used Market
You can buy a used 2013 Leaf now for $7,000, with a range for 80 miles--with heated seats! Every two-car family should get one for local trips. How often do you drive 80 miles in a day? 40 up, 40 back? No often, even on a day heavy with errands. You'll save 75% on fuel, and have a peppy, fun, reliable relatively spacious second car for cheap.

Downside: Unemployment in the Auto Industry
The biggest negative impact will likely be on the US auto industry supply chain and after-market retailers. EVs have something like 18,000 fewer parts than gas cars. Gas cars aren't going away entirely just yet, but fewer will be sold, and the decline is going to accelerate between 2020 and 2030 so rapidly there will be major upheaval in these markets.

Imagine a 20% decline in production of new parts--pistons, casings, bolts, screws, linings, exhaust, spark plugs, etc, etc, etc. They can't simply shift production to electric motor parts--there just aren't many parts in an EV.

Which means tens of thousands of people are going to lose their jobs--possibly millions--over 20 years. They should start looking for another job now, while there's still time. It will be a sea-change shift, and we'll be better off for it: better air quality and  water quality; less asthma and less disease caused by chemicals like benzene (from gasoline), etc. Gas stations should aggressively start adding charging stations --and lots of them--and cafes to capitalize on the longer charge times of long-range EVs.

Other Thoughts
The one benefit a gas car has over an EV is refueling time, which will change in the next several years, but right now it's at least a 20-minute wait to recharge a Leaf to 60 miles. Cars with greater range take longer to fully charge; the Bolt takes an hour and twenty minutes. Hence the cafe opportunity :)

You can get a Tesla Model S for under $30,000, if you're willing to buy used. It's a beautiful luxury car, and happens to be electric. Fast, spacious, comfortable, and amazing. Sigh.

I sold my Leaf last year for $7k. I've driven a gas guzzling SUV (Ford Escape, 23 mpg) for road sales and I hate that I burn gas, but I needed the range and couldn't afford a Tesla (and can't see driving a luxury vehicle).

So, yeah, I've loved electric cars since the 90's. I'm one of those slightly obsessed people and almost built my own with a local EV builder.  I look up prices every couple of days, read EV news, spot the EVs on the road, look at industry stats, etc. I'm addicted to this great idea finally coming to fruition. The first EV was built in the early 1900's...it's been a very, very long road to getting to public acceptance. And we're just about here.

And yes I'd work in the EV or solar industry if I had the right opportunity. I'm super excited about micro-grids and the potential for people to organize their own power sources, cooperatively in neighborhoods. A friend of mine turned me on to some new ideas around that, and it's exciting. Lots of hurdles, of course--local, state, and federal laws, working with physical stuff like, well, stuff you have to install.

EV Sites I read
Inside EVs (pure EV site)
Green Car Reports (mix of EV and Hybrid, not dedicated to EV, sadly. Hybrids burn gas--they are polluters and resource hogs. But better than full ICEs. )
EV-VIN  (current lease deals, links to other sites)

That's what's on my mind this morning.


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