I wrote of EV (Electric Vehicle) acceptance a few weeks back, noting some signs of progress. But despite advancements, consumers are still wary of EV range, power, recharging, battery cost, et cetera. With over 95% of American auto sales non-electric, it might seem like buyers are addicted to the incumbent vehicle power source: gasoline.
But according to Automotive News news editor, Krishnan Anantharaman, we accept gasoline, including all of its faults, because it hasn’t been replaced yet by something more compelling. We may not be “addicted” to gas, but simply “accepting” of it due to lack of alternatives.
Anantharaman believes the transition to electrification is inevitable, so calls upon manufacturers to step up their games. Actually, EV batteries are already getting smaller, longer lasting and cheaper. The vehicle choices are becoming more attractive and luxurious, while they are delivering an improved combination of range, power and speed.
Regardless, consumers still choose gasoline power for its comparative convenience, price, power and a number of things associated with it. It is certainly not the aroma, flammability or love of oil companies that drive consumer gasoline loyalty. We just tend to stick to stick with one thing until something better comes along. An EV “push” was recently implied by France and UK’s announcement banning the sale of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles by the year 2040. That target date reflects growing confidence that better electrified substitutes for fossil fuel powered vehicles will be ready by then. Besides price volatility, there are noteworthy environmental concerns over the continuing use of gasoline and diesel fuel for our transportation needs.
Volvo is already planning a future transition to an all-electric fleet. Volkswagen, Mercedes, General Motors, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover are rolling out more EVs, partly preparing for a Chinese market that will affect the pace of the transition. Countless startups are also working on EV technology from vehicle design to powerplants, batteries and power regeneration. Anantharaman predicts high-performance EV muscle cars will also be part of the future model mix.
In the meantime, he calls for more automakers like Tesla and Volvo to take active, courageous roles in phasing out petroleum-burning engines over time. He noted, “We will need automakers whose eyes are fixed on the future and not the monthly sales tables or this morning’s gasoline prices.” He would like to see EVs presented to consumers not merely as an alternative to internal combustion engines, but as their inevitable successor.
A nationwide gas-powered fleet was never a forgone conclusion, since some of the earliest automobiles were electric or hybrid. Anantharaman believes that if not for a coincidence of history — the discovery of oil in Texas right at the dawn of the automobile age — we might have had 120 years of EV battery innovation and infrastructure development by now, and an acceptable driving range.
Many have high hopes for EV future. Anantharaman wants to expand that group to speed up development. He thinks that if a zero-emissions technology can deliver the same convenience of gasoline along with an environmental gain, then the internal combustion engine has no reason for being.
I think he may have a point! We don’t have a love-affair with gasoline, just an accept-affair because viable alternatives are scarce. Anantharaman believes that the sooner automakers, regulators, suppliers and dealers adapt to this reality, the sooner we can stop pumping gas.
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