The Advent of the Electric Car

It’s looking like we are reaching the tipping point for the advent of the electric car. The first practical affordable electric car was the Nissan Leaf, but the limited milage afforded by its limited battery capacity was not a practical proposition for many potential purchasers.

Tesla’s electric cars the Model S and the Model X whilst offering a good specification and workable range have been beyond the price bracket for most of us. The promised $35k Model 3 is still not with us, so to-date Tesla remains a premium brand for up-market purchasers only.

Despite the lack of an affordable alternative for the internal combustion car to-date Tesla has had a remarkable impact on the Automotive industry, taking the lions share of their market segment in the US market has shaken the automotive industry into addressing their electric future. The Tesla cars have proven not only that electric vehicles are a practical alternative but also for most cases has the potential to offer a better driving experience.

Whilst we have seen much publicity and hype about the recently released Jaguar and the imminent release of the Porche Taycan, these are only attempts to reclaim a portion of the luxury car market back from Tesla. As established incumbent automotive manufacturers they are able to produce a quality product with potentially a better quality cabin than Tesla. Despite the design being electric first the Jaguar iPace turns out to be an expensive electron guzzler with a higher drag co-efficient than even the bulkier Tesla Model S, and the Porche may well be aiming at a Tesla Roadster’s customers.

Whilst General Motors Bolt electric car has been a qualified success in the US it has become totally irrelevant to the European market, where they no longer have an interest due to their disposal of Vauxhall/Opel.

This year we have seen the release of two practical crossover style electric cars the Kia Nero and the Hyundai Kona. These have a practical real world range and less eye watering price. The Nero and Kona however are still multi-drive train platforms, designed to be built with either internal combustion engine (ICE) or electric drivetrain, so are likely still a compromised design with all the electrical workings sitting under the bonnet in the place of an ICE power unit. They also suffer from an inability to actually produce enough vehicles to meet demand due to constrains on battery production/sourcing. But they are almost affordable practical vehicles.

If Volkswagen can be believed, their production version of the ID concept to be delivered in late 2019 will be an electric first design and have sufficient supply of batteries to deliver an electric alternative to at the price of a diesel Golf. This might be the first real contender for the prize of a practical everyman electric car.

Battery cost and availability is the key that will tip the balance of automotive production from ICE to electric. Over the next 5 years we are likely to see the price per Kilowatt drop to a point where it becomes significantly less expensive to produce electric cars than petrol or diesel.

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