With new designs, models, and range and power capabilities appearing regularly, the future of EVs is positively electrifying.
Hyperbole, puns and political posturing aside, mobility is going green.
According to some research estimates, demand for electric vehicles will push the share of EVs to 50-60 percent of total global light vehicle demand in the next 25 years. Electrics will grow faster in the autonomous and share-driving segments of the auto market, but don’t count out gasoline as a prime mover yet. A recent analysis by Morgan Stanley predicts that electric vehicles will make up more than half of all light vehicles sold around the world by 2040, but the rise won’t mean a precipitous decline in demand for gasoline.
Why? Emerging markets will still rely on gasoline, as the cost of transportation goes down at a faster pace (a by-product of developments in those same areas of ride-sharing and self-driving technologies) and leads to more driving and a steady, relevant presence of gas-powered internal combustion engines.
Already iconic names like Uber and Tesla are developing networks of autonomous ride-sharing fleets that can transport passengers at lower costs, perhaps reducing the cost per mile from a not-uncommon $1 per vehicle mile today (around $.76 cents per mile in the U.S., according to AAA) to as little as $.20 cents in the future.
(AAA–commonly called triple A–the American Automobile Association, is a federation of motor clubs throughout North America. The organization is a non-profit, with 55.6 million members in the U.S. and Canada.)
Recently cited figures show about one-half of the roughly $1.50/mile cost of an UberX goes to the cost of the human driver.
The Morgan Stanley analysis suggests that replacing a human driver (annual cost: $50k per year) with an autonomous car (<$5k of equipment up front) can result in payback profits in as little as 5 or 6 weeks.
Traditional automakers are getting in the game, too. Last year General Motors announced the launch of Maven, “its next step in redefining personal mobility with a new car-sharing service (that) combines and expands the company’s multiple programs under one single brand.”
Maven, expanding to urban markets across the U.S., lets users reserve and unlock vehicles with their smartphones. GM says Maven’s most popular vehicle is the hybrid Chevrolet Volt that offers EPA-estimated 53 electric miles and up to 420 miles with a full charge and a full tank of gas.
There are approximately 1 billion cars driving about 10 trillion miles in the world, according to the Morgan Stanley report. Even in a future where private car ownership may decline drastically, the surge in EVs and hybrids, along with the increasing reality of autonomous vehicles and those “ride-sharing” networks, means the total global miles driven could double by 2030 and triple by 2040. However you go, by gas or grid, enjoy the ride!