When the history books come to pass on 2017, one will look on this year as to where electric vehicles (EV’s) had its “iPhone moment.”
A decade ago, Apple released its revolutionary product. Although smartphones were around before, the iPhone helped change a lot of things. It helped changed how smartphones, and eventually the public warmed to mobile computing. It helped create new spillover industries while flipping old ones upside down.
Three factors are contributing this year to why EV’s are reaching that watershed or “iPhone” moment.
EV’s are becoming More Affordable as Battery Prices Plummet: The first shipments of Tesla’s Model 3 have now begun to hit the streets. Initially showcased last year, Elon Musk’s company took 373,000 in reservations as of March 2017. What is so special about this car? It’s Tesla’s first EV into the affordable mass consumer market at $35,000 USD a piece. One of the criticisms with EV’s was the initial excessive costs for consumers.
With batteries coming less costly, EV’s are nearing a tipping point where they are near cost competitive with combustible engine vehicles. A recent report underlines this. By 2025, all new vehicles will be electric. It’s especially important to know given the Paris climate agreement requires all participants keep CO2 levels well below 2C while aiming for 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Transportation alone creates 23% of all carbon emissions, according to the World Bank. Thus, creating affordable, clean tech transportation options at the mass consumer level is essential in cutting carbon emissions out from transportation.
While other companies, including Nissan, Chevy already produce EV’s. Tesla has had critical acclaim with its prior other models, including the Model S. Just like how the iPhone 10 years ago was synonymous with smartphones.
Companies are Going All In on EV’s: 2017 is also the breaking point where companies are making plans to slam the brakes on fossil fuel based vehicles.
Volvo recently announced by 2019 they will cease to make combustion engine vehicles, and manufacture only EV’s or hybrids. This is the silver bullet car manufacturers need to go all-electric. In 2007, Apple entering the smartphone market with the iPhone helped lure other companies, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Nokia, and Chinese tech companies to get into the smartphone game, providing more consumer choice. Smartphone costs also came crashing down to insanely low levels. It’s now possible to get a smartphone for $32 (compared to $499 or $599 US in 2007 for an iPhone). While it’s highly unlikely anyone will see an EV for $32 in their lifetime, it’s entirely possible as more entrants flood the market, prices will drop to make EV’s even more affordable for Main Street.
Global Policy: You can also thank public policy makers around the world around the globe for helping contribute to EV’s watershed moment happening now.
While Trump dumped the Paris accord, other countries are strengthening their ties by supporting cleantech. France recently announced earlier this week by 2040. They will be eliminating the sale of all petrol fuelled based vehicles. Last year, Germany vowed to do the same by 2030. Policy makers are helping to shift towards cleaner vehicles, which adds another layer towards EV’s becoming a real force.
Thomas Friedman’s 2016 book Thank You For Being Late discussed how in 2007 was the watershed moment for many key technologies, ranging from cloud computing storage, solar energy, and smartphones. Ten years later, thanks to declining lithium-ion battery prices, companies moving towards just electric cars, and supporting legislation, are helping EV’s have their “iPhone moment.”
So what you think? Has electric vehicles reached their watershed moment this year? You can reach me on Twitter at @salaysevices, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org