Study: Gasoline cars will vanish in 8 years.
Stanford University economist Tony Seba has rattled some cages in the oil and automotive industries with his report Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030: The Disruption of Transportation and the Collapse of the ICE Vehicle and Oil Industries. Seba, an expert on the history of disruptive technologies. Think the “horseless carriage” in 1910, personal computers in 1975. Think of how digital photography replaced film photography in the space of only a decade, or how cell phones have now made land lines nearly obsolete.
Seba and colleagues predict that economics will drive the rapid replacement of internal combustion cars, trucks and buses with safer and much cheaper “computers on wheels” within the decade. Electric vehicles, he explains, are ten times cheaper to operate, have only a small fraction of the moving parts of a gasoline car, and will last a million miles. Seba predicts a rapid “death spiral” for both the oil and big automobile industry, and the many industries they support. The transition has not been lost on major auto manufacturers, which have already put the lion’s share of their R&D into EV development rather than conventional engine improvements.
Seba predicts a tipping point in EV adoption as battery technology improves, vehicle range increases. Low-end EV’s will be below $20,000 within five years, and all new cars, trucks, and buses will be electric by 2025.
He also forecasts a rapid shift away from privately owned vehicles to a much cheaper and more efficient model of autonomous electric “Transportation as Service” (TaaS) vehicles. These will result in many fewer vehicles on American roads, and a savings of $5,600 per year for people who make the switch.
While Seba’s predictions may sound dramatic, Berkshire Hathaway’s “Business Wire” acknowledges that they are based on conservative assumptions, many of which have already been borne out ahead of schedule. While the electric vehicle revolution will be a challenge for some industries, it holds promise to broadly support a transition to a healthier and more sustainable society.