Volkswagen to Throw $86 Billion at EVs over 5 Years. GM, Ford, Others Plow Mega-Bucks into Shift to EVs. Tesla Instigated It

Commercial trucks and vans too, including at Volkswagen’s Traton, one of the largest truck makers in the world, acquirer of Navistar.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Volkswagen A.G. – which is in a perennial struggle with Toyota over the crown of being the largest automaker in the world – has gotten the memo a few years ago, after its dreams of diesel domination collapsed into Diesel Gate: The future is going to be EVs. And every year, the company budgets evermore colossal capital expenditures for the EV space.

Today it released its latest number when it discussed the result of its just ended annual “5-Year Planning Round”: It will spend €73 billion ($86 billion) over the next five years on its electrification programs, amounting to nearly 50% of its total five-year investment budget of $150 billion.

In last year’s 5-Year Planning Round, it also set a five-year €150-billion CapEx budget, of which the company had assigned an already colossal €60 billion to the EV space, or 40% of its capital expenditure budget. This year, it upped it by €13 billion, to €73 billion, at the expense of the remaining programs (the total is still €150 billion). Of this €73 billion five-year CapEx budget, Volkswagen will invest:

  • €35 billion in battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), batteries, and battery cell production facilities.
  • €11 billion in hybrid versions of existing vehicles.
  • €27 billion in software development, artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, and “digitalization of significant business processes.” “Fully connected mobility,” is the goal. It intends to increase the share of its own software from currently 10% to 60%.

Volkswagen already has 20 battery-electric vehicle models in production globally. By 2030, it intends to have 70 BEV models in production.

By 2030, it plans to produce 26 million BEVs a year: About 7 million a year will use the High Performance PPR platform developed by Porsche. And about 19 million a year will be based on its modular electric drive matrix MEB (image of MEB via Volkswagen):

Some of the 20 BEV models Volkswagen has already put on the road include the Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron, e-Golf, e-Bora, e-Lavida, and the ID.3.

Last month, Volkswagen’s medium-duty and heavy truck and bus subsidiary Traton – which owns MAN (Germany), Scania (Sweden), and Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus (Brazil) – and Toyota’s truck and bus subsidiary Hino Motors have signed a joint-venture agreement to develop battery-electric and fuel-cell-electric trucks.

A few days ago, Traton finalized its agreement to purchase Navistar International (at $44.50 a share), subject to Navistar shareholder approval. A year ago, Navistar unveiled its battery-electric medium-duty truck prototype, based on technology developed by Traton.

Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus has started production of its electric medium-duty truck, the VW e-Delivery 11. MAN has started producing an electric truck, the eTGM. Volkswagen also started producing battery-electric delivery vans, including the e-Crafter and the ABT e-Transporter 6.1.

Other automakers too are throwing many billions of dollars at developing BEVs, BEV platforms, battery technologies, battery cells, the affiliated software, and the like. But none are throwing money at it like Volkswagen.

In March, General Motors said it would invest over $20 billion in five years on its BEVs and autonomous-driving technologies. This week it said it would invest $2 billion in its assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, to manufacture the new Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV. In 2016, to learn the BEV ropes, GM started making the Chevy Bolt. In China, GM’s joint ventures already have numerous BEVs on the road, including China’s bestselling EV, built by GM’s Wuling brand, the Hongguang Mini (costs $4,300). And GM’s standalone self-driving division, Cruise, has raised funds from investors at a valuation of around $20 billion.

Tesla has raised over $25 billion from investors since its IPO, mostly by selling shares, including two share offerings this year: $2.3 billion in February and up to $5 billion via an “at the market” offering in September, to be executed in bits and pieces whenever it feels like it. Some of this cash is still on its balance sheet. The rest it burned developing, manufacturing, and selling its vehicles and other products. Tesla did a lot of heavy lifting early on, and now it has shaken up the giants.

Ford has committed $11.5 billion to the EV space. This week, it unveiled the E-Transit urban delivery van. Fleets are now clamoring for urban delivery vans with all-electric drivetrains due to low maintenance costs. And range anxiety is not an issue since urban delivery vans spend much of their time stopped, and don’t put on a lot of miles during a day’s worth of work. A year ago, Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian Automotive, a startup where Ford is a big investor ($500 million) and strategic partner.

Ford’s first all-electric Mach-E SUVs are expected to be delivered to customers toward the end of this year. And the electric version of the bestselling F-150 truck is next.

Toyota bet a lot of money on developing hydrogen fuel-cell technologies, assuming that this would be the winner over BEVs. That bet may or may not pan out. So Toyota too has jumped into the BEV fray and belatedly started working on them.

Every global automaker is now investing billions of dollars into every aspect of electric vehicles. There have been hundreds of EV startups, most of them in China, and most of them will disappear.

The overall passenger vehicle market has been horribly mature for two decades in the US, Europe, and Japan, with essentially no growth possible. And the market is maturing in China, the largest auto market in the world. But the one segment that is now growing in leaps and bounds everywhere is the EV space.

The EV space, with so many entrants, from startups to legacy giants, and so much capital piling in, has gotten very competitive. Tesla has spent all year cutting prices across its lineup to defend its turf. At the end of September, Ford countered and cut the sticker price of its Mach-E by $1,000 to $3,000 across all versions before they even arrive in showrooms. Other automakers, such as Volkswagen are bringing cheaper models to market to begin with.

The overall auto market in developed economies will remain mature and the total number of vehicles sold in those economies will have trouble setting new records. This has been an issue for two decades. In 2016, the US finally set a new record – 17.55 million new vehicles sold – beating is prior record established in 2000 by a hair. And those were the Good Times:

In other words, it’s a zero-sum game in the US and similarly mature markets: EV sales are cannibalizing sales of vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE).

It’s not that automakers want to invest tens of billions of dollars in switching to EVs; they’re forced to by competition. Tesla instigated it, and they ignored Tesla for as long as they could, and suddenly it got serious. And Diesel Gate was the other kick-in-the butt that forced their hand; it destroyed the hopes of European automakers, particularly Volkswagen, that had wagered their future on diesels.

Batteries remain a challenge, and billions of dollars are being thrown at battery-related technologies. Reports of fires continue to excite our imagination. There have always been fires involving ICE vehicles, given the combination of gasoline and heat. Each year, from 2014 to 2016 — before the mass-arrival of EVs — “an estimated 171,500 highway vehicle fires occurred in the United States, resulting in an annual average of 345 deaths” per year, according to the US government. But we’re used to ICE-vehicle fires. BEV fires are new, and different, and more fun to watch on YouTube, and they get all the attention.

In terms of the manufacturing processes, EVs are a lot simpler to manufacture than ICE vehicles, and competition by all these newcomers will continue to push down prices. It will be very tough for automakers to make fat profits in this highly competitive environment where the old and insurmountable barriers to entry have suddenly disappeared.

Unionized automakers and component makers that have to announce these things way in advance and negotiate a solution have already warned that their payrolls will shrink as production shifts from ICE vehicles to EVs. The loss of employment will hit the German auto industry, which has staked its fame on ICE technologies and components, very hard. The announcements of future job losses have been huge. The government (playing its role as part of “Deutschland A.G.”) has offered support to these companies during the transition. And in sum-total, the shift to EVs appears to be a net negative for employment in the auto industry.

The Ford F150 XLT & the Toyota Camry LE are at it again. My annual brain-twisting stunner. Read… The WOLF STREET “Pickup Truck & Car Price Index” for 2021 Models Crushes Official “CPI for New Vehicles”

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  298 comments for “Volkswagen to Throw $86 Billion at EVs over 5 Years. GM, Ford, Others Plow Mega-Bucks into Shift to EVs. Tesla Instigated It

  1. Massbytes says:

    Good article. The EV space is indeed on a strong upward trajectory. 2021 should have a multitude of new vehicles released including a bevy of pickups. The innovation yet to come will be breathtaking. ICE vehicles will rapidly become niche products.

    • Trinacria says:

      Good article indeed. Just wondering though, if what many observers believe is coming down the road (no pun intended) at us, will average folks have the available means to buy EV’s or any big ticket item for that matter? Or, will these be handed out as part of universal basic income?

      • Thomas Roberts says:

        I don’t see UBI happening and even in a give stuff away free country, it’s a very terrible way to handle things. If free stuff is given out long term, it has to be more like a revamped food stamp program and a new healthcare program for all approach, somewhat similar to like France. Things have to be given out per need, not, pots of money.

        Because, of self driving car taxis and future expanded self driving bus networks, I don’t see private car subsidies being a thing. Electric cars only need subsidies until, the industry can grow without them. Direct spending on research and development should get government spending, though. Future bus networks, could be a lot bigger and feature a range of bus sizes, also, public transportation networks could feature teirs and have sedans and vans in their mix, possibly, offering rides on demand in their mix. Rules, conditions, and prices will vary by city, and individual. I.e. if you have a disability or are a kid.

      • rhodium says:

        You can afford an electric golf cart. JK, just finance a Tesla for 12 years like everyone else does with cars these days. Supposedly they last for a million miles and don’t rust, so it could very well be your last car. Think of how few cars will need to be made if you never have to buy a new one. All those productive labor units will be able to build houses instead and stuff.

    • Ted T. says:

      In marketing, this is referred to as a solution searching for a problem. Lets wait to see the sales figures before we talk about an upward trajectory.

      • Max Power says:

        It is a certainty. As battery costs go down, EV sales will rise. It’s really as simple as that.

        • max says:

          “It’s not that automakers want to invest tens of billions of dollars in switching to EVs; they’re forced to by competition.”

          they are forced by Government regulations.

          “As battery costs go down”

          comparing to oil or gas it is questionable.

          Do you. really think that extracting oil or gas is more complicate and more expensive than making battery from rare earths.

          I do not think that Mr. Wolf will publish this he is believer in something for nothing or free lunch and i am from the government and here to help.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          “Do you. really think that extracting oil or gas is more complicate and more expensive than making battery from rare earths.”

          This is the silliest comparison I read all hour. For one thing, rare earths go into a battery only once. But ICE vehicles burn gasoline for their entire life. For instance, if a vehicle gets 25 mpg and is driven 250,000 miles during its life, it burns 10,000 gallons of fuel. Compared to the small amounts of rare earths in a battery??? I see what you’re trying to say, but you gotta come up with a better comparison.

        • Gandalf says:


          The lithium batteries in electric cars do not use rare earths, as the term is officially defined by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. They use lithium and cobalt, which are not technically rare earths, nor are they rare in Earth’s crust – however, ores that contain high enough concentrations to be economical enough to mine are not that common

          The 17 officially recognized rare-earth elements are cerium (Ce), dysprosium (Dy), erbium (Er), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), holmium (Ho), lanthanum (La), lutetium (Lu), neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), scandium (Sc), terbium (Tb), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), and yttrium (Y)

          Neodynium is the only rare earth relevant to electric cars. Added in small amounts to the iron magnets of the electric motors, they make the motors much more powerful for the amount of magnet needed.

          It’s this increased power to weight ratio of neodynium powered electric motors with lightweight lithium batteries that’s allowed battery-electric motor powered drones to fly in the air.

          When I was a kid, if you tried to stick a propellar on the available small hobby motors and batteries of that era, there was no way that heavy setup would ever get itself off the ground.

          China made a decision to corner the market on the production of neodynium by making it so cheap nobody else could economically produce it – the US used to have mines that produced neodynium which got shut down. One is being restarted again in the name of national security.

        • Gandalf says:

          As a corollary,

          It’s important to point out also that it was this technological breakthrough of neodynium-doped super electric magnet motors and high energy density lightweight lithium batteries that were key to the electric car revolution.

          Before that, nickel based batteries were the best available rechargable batteries, and before that you were stuck with lead acid batteries. Both were super heavy and had much more limited total electric power. The old electric motors without the neodynium magnets were much weaker and heavier.

          Thus, there was no way an electric car was going to out accelerate a suped up high powered ICE car, nor was it going to have any sort of range.

          So, a bit of a kudos to the scientific advancements underlying this electric car revolution is needed.

        • Dan Romig says:

          Thank you Gandalf.

          “The Apheta 2 features a super high-powered, neodymium magnet and a coil meticulously hand wound on an iron cross that is fifty percent smaller that the original. This weight reduction allows us greater freedom to track the vinyl groove ensuring even more detail is extracted from the vinyl.”

          Neodymium sounds good to me & enjoying it now.

      • Trinacria says:

        Yes, Ted, you have a point there…or many say if all you have is a hammer then every problems looks like a nail. In fact my mother used to say (in Italian) when I was a child that some people simply go looking for “trouble with a flashlight”. She was not a marketing person, just old fashioned common sense.
        I just fine with EV’s, in fact I used to ask myself in college (40 years ago)….interesting that we don’t have EV’s…..but interesting how no one talks about :
        1. the process of obtaining the materials to make the batteries.
        2. battery disposal (this also goes for hybrids).

        Just some thoughts.

        • Massbytes says:

          Why do you say no one talks about …. In fact, I hear anti-EV people talk about mining and battery disposal all of the time.

          And each time it is explained that batteries are already be recycled as they have been forever and that the mining of lithium and cobalt are far less environmentally degrading than finding, fracking, refining and then burning fossil fuels into our atmosphere.

          Nothing for billions of people is environmentally perfect, but EVs are better than ICE…by far.

        • Trinacria says:

          Thank you Massbytes for that info. I do my best then to research this and hopefully get some balanced info. My point was, that I don’t see this (info about the batteries) being readily discussed and available in a format a person can trust. Simple as that. I would trust Wolf if he were to do a piece on this…

        • c0nnect3d says:

          Hi, if you want to read about EVs, there are lot of studies that have been made, in which they describe precisely their methodology.

          Here they analyse the complete cost (environnemental and economical) of ICE, hybrids and EV (from manufacturing, to disposal)

          And here they do an analysis of the battery from ressource extraction to disposal and if recycling is worth it.

          From what I understand, EVs are better, but not magic, hybrids make more economical sense, batteries are bad but gas is worse.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          The links are WAY OUTDATED. They’re from 2014 and 2017. That’s an eternity for EVs. Prices have changed tremendously.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        A lot of buildings will need to be retrofitted with newer ‘time of day’ electric utility meters, to take advantage of cheaper night rates. The demand on the existing grid should prove interesting as time goes on.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Once there is increased demand for the cheaper night rates, I’ll bet the price goes up…way up!

        • Lee says:

          “Once there is increased demand for the cheaper night rates, I’ll bet the price goes up…way up!”

          Well here in Oz, the demand for cheaper night rates has gone up, but there are a few problems with that.

          The various utilities serving the area where I live consist of the monopoly generator, the monopoly wire and poles company, and then the various retail outfits.

          Despite the huge increase in renewables put in the supply chain including large scale wind and solar and a super huge increase in rooftop solar, the RETAIL price of electricity continues to go up while the WHOLESALE price falls.

          Over the past year the WHOLESALE price of electricity here has fallen by 48%.

          So what has happened to the RETAIL price?

          Well, first of all the retail utility I am with has eliminated all Time of Use (TOU) plans for new cutomers and existing customers that have not been on a TOU plan already. Most other retail outfits have done the same and if you can find one that does have those TOU plans, the cost of non-TOU electricity can be even more expensive than flat rate plans.

          That means no more night or weekend discounts and a flat rate for all electricity usage. The TOU price is about 50% of the flat rate price.

          Lucky us – we are grandfathered and are able to continue to on the TOU price rate schedule, but prices under the new paln have gone up for both the daytime rate and the night rate.

          The TOU price has surged over the years and is now more than what we used to pay 12 years ago for flat rate electricity. In fact it is about 25% more than that price. The current daytime price has gone up 150% over that time.

          When prices were increasing, the TOU price would go up more than the flat rate price in % terms.

          One’s bill here consists of all those above utilities charges, but they are not broken out on the bill. Guesses are that only 1/3 of the bill relates to the actual price of electricty and the rest the ‘fixed’ costs.

          For the new grandfathered plan we are on, we did have a nice surprise, the fixed supply charges were actually cut. IIRC this is only the second time that has happened in the past 12 years or so. But even with that cut, supply charges have increased even more than the retail price of electricity.

          The high cost of electricity here has resulted in a lot of people putting panels on their houses. As I do a lot of walking around the area I can houses that have have new panels put up.

          It seems that if a houses is sold and doesn’t have panels one of the first things the new owners do is put up panels (and cut down down trees!!).

          You can get a cheap 6 kWh system here for around A$6000 (US$4400) and even less if you qualify for the state A$1850 rebate.

          With prices as as high as 40 cents per kWh of electricity a system is a nobrainer here.

        • Thomas Roberts says:


          It’s very easy and cheap to integrate that stuff into the charger. The charger would have locked down firmware and could communicate securely with the electric grids servers. Very easy.

        • DawnsEarlyLight says:

          Thomas Roberts, that’s interesting to know! But why limit night rates to just the charger?

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          Thread is getting long and hard to follow. Night rates could apply to everything in the future. But, for now it would be fast and cheap to worry about cars first. Also, it would be hard to adjust usage of other devices to match electricity rates and appliances could be made more efficient, so that wouldn’t matter as much.

          The general population probably wouldn’t like variable pricing and controlling much except for car charging is difficult. Right now, some washers and dish washers allow you to set them to go during night, but, if they use less electricity, that wouldn’t matter alot. Most people would be fine with electric vehicles getting cheaper night pricing. And if there is enough of them, there wouldnt be a huge surplus of unused night electricity anyways. There could be additional windmills put up, but, natural gas would have to make up difference on less windy nights. So, focusing, entirely on vehicles, for variable pricing makes sense.

          Also, work from home (if permanent) should smooth out variable electrical demand throughout an average day. I.e. No 5pm demand jump.

    • joe2 says:

      Good stuff. Just waiting for a good price point. Nothing new. I’ll buy when it makes sense.]
      So ……

      • Old School says:

        I always like to rub it in, my big comfortable 2004 MBS430 goes 700 miles on a fill up and 30 mpg highway and carries four very comfortably. All for $6500. 55,000 miles later and maybe $3000 of maintenance. We all have to make choices based on our income.

        I do want an EV some day, but I am pretty sure I will buy a hybrid first, once they are not cool anymore and I can get one dirt cheap.

    • Morty Mc Mort says:

      Look up Lithium – Global Reserves against Global Requirements.. “Houston, We have a Problem”.

    • nick kelly says:

      ‘Assuming that the average Tesla vehicle has a 70 kWh battery, this could imply that Tesla’s battery cost per vehicle has declined from $16k in 2016 to about $9k in 2019E’

      From Forbes.

      Note: 9 k is TESLA’s cost of production.
      If they are willing to sell them at less than 50% mark up, they will make history as the nicest car co ever. Plus shipping, dealer install and retail you are looking at 15K minimum and more likely closer to 20,000.

      This is the outfit that charges thousands to e-send you software unlocking capability the car already has.

      Point is, no one knows what they’ll cost, or whether the recycling old batteries will make any dent in the price. There is just as likely to be a big charge to recycle the old one when you buy a new one.

      If someone can get a quote from Tesla on what a battery will cost for a Y in 2025, or NOW, tell me.

    • Don’t be mislead by Tesla..
      Largest EV market in raw unit numbers according to many in the larger global markets forecasts–(China-Pak-India mass markets) is the urban market where prices range from $2.5K upto $20K..
      Think ev rickshaw type of 3 wheeled vehicle,
      EV will have larger portfolio than most.

  2. 2banana says:

    Just wondering.

    Germany has the highest average electricity rates in the world at 0.38 per kWh, U.S. Dollar (March 2020 figures). And that is with 40%+ of their electricity being produced by renewable sources.

    Easily more than double the cost in the United States.

    And what point does the cost of “filling up the tank” drive people back to ICE vehicles?

    “The loss of employment will hit the German auto industry, which has staked its fame on ICE technologies and components, very hard.”

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Have you ever filled up an ICE vehicle in Germany? Make sure you have enough room left on your credit card :-]

      • EdKennedy says:

        I suspect that Europe’s high fuel price is due to taxes. Governments around the world are going to start taxing electric vehicles to make up for the lost gas tax effectively cancelling any cost savings from switching from gas to electric.
        Here in Ohio, there already is a $100/year added registration fee for Hybrid cars and $200/year fee for electric cars.

        • 2banana says:

          Interesting paradox.

          Massive government subsidizies to the EV industry and then progressively tax the snot out of EV consumers.

        • Ed, would someone please tell me who is going to pay for all the charging stations so that these acid laden rascals can go over 150 miles on a charge??? I see a world, esp. with cheap oil staying with us for quite some time, where you have an EV, a Government subsidized one of course, to do your local driving where distance per charge is not an issue, and an ICE ride to take the long trip in. Many of the most fuel efficient ICE vehicles are 4-bangers, and the infrastructure is well established to go 500 to 1000 miles via ICE on a journey.

          Now let’s say a BEV driver is texting his broker to buy more TESLA stock and he goes off the road down an embankment. The batteries will not be Kevlar reinforced and with their weight, there is going to be a lot of hazardous materials spilled onto Mother Earth. I am not sure Lithium is something you want in your drinking water. First responders may have to wear hazmat suits.

          It could have been a recently laid-off ICE plant worker that drove the BEV driver off the edge. There will be lots of resentment in a world already starving for jobs, esp. good ones. ICE rides will be around for decades going forward, esp. in developing countries.

        • California Bob says:

          Lithium-ion batteries, generally used in production BEVs, do not contain any acids: “The electrolyte is a lithium salt in an organic solvent.”

        • Massbytes says:

          If you take a driver who drives 12K miles per year in a 25 mpg vehicle they would use about 480 gallons of gas. In my state that would be about $105 in fuel taxes paid at the pump.

          As an EV driver, I currently pay a $100 fee for my fuel taxes when I register. So no real effect on my tax costs.

          My electricity costs 4 cents per mile or 3 miles per kilowatt in my area. So only if gasoline was a dollar a gallon or cheaper would the EV be more expensive. And don’t forget to include no oil changes, very little brake wear etc.

          There are states though, like California, Pennsylvania etc that charge much higher taxes at the pump and many that charge the EVs much higher taxes to register. So a state by state comparison is needed to see how it works out for you.

        • Fat Chewer. says:

          You went from suspicion to conviction in the blink of an eye.

          I don’t really believe you. On what grounds is that $100/$200 tax justified? It is not. It’s either a figment of your imagination or a plot by ICE lovers to hit EV owners in the hip pocket. So obviously Republicans either strenuously supported that tax or did not oppose it. Funny how Republican virtues die in the face of revenge against their ememies.

        • nick kelly says:

          OBVIOUSLY…there has to be some kind of road use levy on EV’s to replace the portion of fuel tax given to road and bridge construction and maintenance. At the moment this could be overlooked or minimal but not if EVs were a large sector or a majority of autos.

      • Wes says:

        Mr. Richter, good reporting on the EV market. The EU set their mandate by requiring ICE vehicles to meet the stringent 98 grams of CO2 per kilometer for 2020. Incidentally, not even VW met this year’s requirements. The other factor that has not been addressed yet is the increased number of megawatt power plants that will need to come on line to supply all the electricity for the growing EV demand. Ten years ago there was a study on how many additional megawatt electric power plants would be needed if California were to impose 100% EV mandate. If I remember correctly it was something like 6 additional megawatt power plants would be needed, not to mention all the needed charging stations.

        • Anthony A. says:

          What’s the CO2 emission requirement on the gas fired power plants? And for NOx, SO2, PM, VOC?

          Just curious if they have to meet standards that are as restrictive as vehicles.

        • Old School says:

          European economic policy always looks foolish to me looking from USA. Economic policy always looks to be driven from the technocrat politician down and highly regulated. It’s ok maybe and maybe more progressive, but you can’t get much real economic growth with that recipe.

          Europe has been looking for growth my whole adult life and keeps coming up short. A lot of USA politicians want to be more like Europe as they don’t have as much power and pay is less in the USA with top politician’s pay being around $200,000 – $250,000 in federal government other than president.

      • hendrik1730 says:

        Electrical will become even more expensive SOON. The first price explosions of kWh for “filling your car battery” have already happened because the electricity providers for load stations couldn’t afford to deliver at “normal electricity prices”. And soon to be followed by taxes on energy – just like taxes NOW on fuel.

        The EU governments cannot loose the immense fuel taxes they have today without going bankrupt – electricity prices will go through the roof, once “everybody” goes electrical.

        • char says:

          Gas was 5 cent when the state wanted to get rid off coal. When everybody had switched they raised the prices. They obviously will raise a tax on EV miles but not before the obvious death of gasoline. Besides the gas taxes will be raised to punitive levels and a lot of the country will be closed to ICE.

      • Max says:

        Well, I don’t know about Germany, but some Europeans countries have two prices for electricity: one for the industry and another one for the households.

        In Europe everything is taxed more than in the US: cars, fuel, electricity. However, the ICE is going to be wiped out for 2 reasons: a household can not produce gasoline at home (regardless of the price), but it can produce its own electricity, so it is more dependent on the price of solar pannels than on government taxes on electricity.

        The other reason is that ICE innovation in the past 100 years has reached its peak; the innovation of batteries it’s only beginning.

        Also the number of components that are required to build an EV is around 7000 components less than those required to build an ICE car.

        The main cost of the EV car is the battery and those prices have fallen in the recent years: by around 80 % in the past 10 years.

        I think that the new paradigm is e-mobility and that e-buses, e-cars, e-bikes will bring a permanent shift to the use of public transportation as costs will be lower.

        • nick kelly says:

          It is not practical for anything like a normal detached house, let alone condos, to charge Evs via solar panels. This is true even in California. Where I am now on Van Isle you couldn’t power LED lights with them.

          The battery used in Ev’s is lithium ion intro in 1990 by Panasonic. It has improved but although we hear of a radical new tech every
          week or so, so far it’s Li ion.

          As for costs dropping 80%…cost to who?
          We know two things about Tesla: it doesn’t make money making cars, and (2) at some point it will have to make a profit selling cars OR batteries.
          Yes there are way more parts in the ICE engine, but they don’t all fail at the same time. There is one HUGE part in the Tesla drive train (the motors are no prob) and when it fails, it fails.

          According to Forbes, T’s cost for a M 3 battery is 9,000. If T keeps selling cars at little profit, but needs to break even, it is going to charge 15-to 20K for a battery. If it can supply them.

          The ICE engines wear out a bit a time. If T’s batteries last 5-7 years, T could be asked for several million replacements within a few months. Will it have them on the shelf?

        • char says:

          It is not households but states that can’t produce oil but can produce electric energy.
          And you are right that a EV is probably cheaper than an ICE after a generation of 2. In my opinion it will be cheaper to develop an ICE for the next decade as an EV with an onboard generator than as a classical ICE

      • BatHelix says:

        Hi Wolf…I was wondering if you’d comment on what I see as two important points regarding EV’s that do not get discussed. First I think that prices should fall like flat screen tv’s and China will begin selling the equivalent of a Honda Accord for about $5,000 soon…..and I bet they start making them modular so that you can just buy the new, updated interior or other parts. It would be cool for modification and updates but terrible for sales….and forget the entire industry around maintenance and parts etc.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          Agree with both points. I addressed your first point directly by discussing the price cuts currently underway, the barriers to entry having disappeared, etc.; and I think I discussed your second point indirectly (by showing the Volkswagen module).

  3. Great article. I would have loved to see something about the WTF moment yesterday when the speculative Chinese EV makers surpassed the market cap of the the big 3 US automakers…the NIO story is a bigger shiteshow than the Tesla one and I was glad to see some sense in the market today as the big shorters began piling on. Now you have Li and the other Chinese EV makers reaching valuations that make even less sense than Tesla – I’ll be honest here, I’ve tried to make sense of it all and to me it looks pretty much like pure insanity. That being said – Volkswagen and GMs moves in this space seem like they could force Tesla into burning themselves out – there is one company up in Vancouver that is run by some pretty far thinking people and may have some legs – but at the moment – this seems like the most insane and over rated space in equities..and that is really saying something.

    • roddy6667 says:

      In America, investors (speculators and gamblers, really) think NIO is a big deal in China. You can go days without seeing one on any big city street. Here in Qingdao, I only see about one Tesla a day. Two years ago, all the cool kids and trendoids were driving Teslas. Fads end quickly. On any big city street, you can see several Chinese EV’s a MINUTE. All day. They are made by all the big Chinese car makers and the Japanese, German, Korean, Indian, and US companies in partnerships. Also, city buses and some taxis are now electric. I even noticed electric garbage trucks. Outside the hype of Wall Street and the American media, the EV revolution quietly goes on in China.

      • Ted T, says:

        Mostly power by coal!

      • Fat Chewer. says:

        Yah, and most of the rest of the world too. It’s only us dumbasses arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin who have fallen behind because of the unrestrained power of legacy vested interests.

        • Lee says:

          Well as you are in Oz, please let everybody know how much those BEV and hybrid cars cost here in Oz compared to the ICE ones.

          Which is cheaper a fully loaded Porsche Macan or a a Tesla Model X?

        • Fat Chewer. says:

          This government imposing taxes is one of the parties I criticized. I don’t know how much a Macan costs because I would never be able to afford a Porsche or a Tesla on my salary since they are classed as luxury vehicles and subject to a huge tax. Prima facie evidence of the complicity of this fossil fuel loving government.

        • Fat Chewer. says:

          I ask you Lee, has your side of politics worked out how many ScoMo’s can dance on a chunk of coal?

        • Happy1 says:

          ICE vehicles are straight up less expensive, “legacy vested interests” aren’t the reason we don’t drive EVs, we drive ICR because it’s cheaper. By a long shot. And you can drive them cross country.

      • hendrik1730 says:

        Yep, powered by COAL fired power plants. All very “green”, of course.

        • c0nnect3d says:

          I don’t get the argument of coal, a coal power plant is much more efficient than a car engine, and there is much less loss of transmitting electricity on power lines than gas by train/truck/pipeline, less loss in an EV so how is it worse ?
          EVs ar not “green” by any mean, they are just better. I dont like the hype about them, dont plan to buy one soon, but I strongly believe they are the logical path.

    • Old School says:

      Good article. The EV story has many different perspectives. To go carbon neutral is going to require real resources and politicians will determine whose pocket that will come from.

      As a value style stock holder I never liked the auto industry anyway as they are cyclical requiring a lot of debt and in recessions have a nasty habit of wiping out or nearly wiping out shareholders. Going electric just requires huge investment to sell the same number of cars. Politicians may help you with incentives, but stock holders are bad to the base of at least one party, maybe both so you can’t count on it. Probably better places for investors to put their money.

      • Thomas Roberts says:

        In the future electric car manufactures will have a smaller startup cost than ICE manufacturers. Right now, the current crop wants to own the battery production itself and right now that costs money. In the future, batteries will probably be generic and offered by battery companies. Everything thing else is much cheaper to design and build on an electric car, except, for that electric cars also tend to be made out of carbon fiber, which, will also drop in price. Self driving cars are unrelated, but, often described as though they are related.

    • Phillip says:

      Ha. Ha. In what universe is Tesla a shiteshow? They have changed one of the biggest industries in the world, have a large market cap and continue to expand. I guess if you repeat a lie often enough it might stick.

      • char says:

        This is about the stock, not the company

      • How much positive cashflow does Tesla generate in a quarter?? They may be a very hyped pioneer in the EV market, but they are also a pioneer that financially, when the stock bubble bursts, gets lost in the wilderness.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          With Tesla, you always have to consider SpaceX, because, of SpaceX, Tesla could get enough subsidies and potentially government contracts or other help to smooth things over, until their financials improve.

      • Old School says:

        Most of us know that Tesla like 20% of US companies wouldn’t even be around without Zirp and QE. We are eating our seed corn to prop them up while practical problem of putting a roof over your head and sending your kid to university gets harder for middle class to do. I am 64 and it’s possible that average single family home in USA will hit a million bucks in my life time. My parents home was $8800.

      • Happy1 says:

        They make nice high end cars while burning billions of investor’s cash. Great business model while there is ZIRP.

  4. Zantetsu says:

    Anyone have insight into the Chinese EV makers that are currently darlings of the market? I’m thinking NIO and XPEV. Might be others.

    My assumption is that they will take the same trajectory as TSLA for the same reasons …

    • Li is the other one I have heard mentioned – it went parabolic day before yesterday.

      • cd says:

        its just big money running things up before the depression..
        its always like this…..right now the big houses, hedgies and pe have run amok in the market with the SEC silent evil committed, just sits on there hands and lets it happen. Biogen, Kodak, a host of others to trap poor retail without algos…

        I look forward to the depression, the progressives need a big fat wakeup call about debt….

        • wiley says:

          Look forward?The problem is that the already marginalized,living hand-to-mouth,and physically challenged will be hardest hit.The coming Depression is planned and will be far worse,I fear due to reconcentration of $,power,data/insideinfor.,corruption,resource scarcity.Local,municipal,state govs. And charities are already teetering on the $ abyss,while Many others are already Dead!Many U.S.charities who would feed,clothe,respite,educate,transport,and shelter people struggle w/tiny staff/$.Dangerous Times!

    • roddy6667 says:

      The big car makers in China all make EV’s. They are state-owned companies that are not subject to the insanity of the market. FAW (First Auto Works), BAIC (Beijing), SAIC (Shanghai), Trumpchi, Great Wall, Wuling, Geely, BYD, Chang’An, Chery, Dongfeng, Lynk, Volvo, Haval, Qoros, Zotye, and many others all manufacture EV’s.

      • sammy iyer says:

        The Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV was the best-selling electric vehicle

        According to China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) data ,SAIC-GM-Wuling managed to sell 20,631 examples of the budget-minded Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV between October 1st and October 31st, making it the best-selling electric vehicle in the country for the month. The Tesla Model 3 was second with 12,143 units sold, while the Great Wall ORA R1 hatchback was third at 6,269 units sold.The Hong Guang Mini EV is a four-seat hatchback that produces a maximum of 13 kW (17.4 horsepower) and 85 Nm (62.7 pound-feet) of torque from its single electric motor. It has an estimated range of 106 miles (170 km) and an electronically limited top speed of 62 mph. Prices start at the equivalent of about $4,500 USD, with a fully-loaded model available for around $5,600 USD. Its extremely low MSRP is of course a major contributor to its recent popularity relative to offerings like the Model 3, which starts at around $36,800 USD in China including available new energy vehicle subsidies.
        #China personal #NEV Oct production at 149K.
        #EV: 127K
        #PHEV: 22K
        #1 SGMW: 29,843
        #2 Tesla: 22,929
        #3 BYD: 22,268
        #4 SAIC: 11,527
        #5 Great Wall: 8,100

  5. Dan Romig says:

    Thank you for the report Wolf.

    BMW is now promoting its iX SUV. They are also working on manufacturing the battery system in-house.

    Not cheap, but impressive specs. Zero to 60 in ‘just’ under 5 seconds for something similar in size to the X5 or X6. Maybe a 300 mile range. No doubt, there will be demand for this machine.

    • Dan Romig says:

      Also of interest may be the 10-year partnership between Polaris and Zero Motorcycles to manufacture electric power sports vehicles.

      Now is the time for a new sled if you live in the north woods and plains. Haven’t seen an electric snowmobile, but they’re coming too.

      • Antone says:

        I saw an article this morning about a recall on Chevy bolts due to battery fires and there were links to other ev recalls as well. I would like an electric motorcycle but range is an absolute joke. To me this seems like a lot of hype but not a lot of substance. I get the appeal of Tesla, but a truck? I’m dubious, and that was before that recent incident of that one company that got busted faking it’s performance going down a hill, lol.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Millions of ICE vehicles are recalled every year, for things like fires and exploding airbags, fuel leaks, electrical shorts, and other hazards. No one ever writes about them. But when 60,000 Bolts are recalled, it’s like this HUGE thing.

        • Quack says:

          Where they’ll get the juice when all the EV will come to the town near you?

        • California Bob says:

          “Millions of ICE vehicles are recalled every year, for things like fires and exploding airbags, fuel leaks, electrical shorts, and other hazards. No one ever writes about them.”

          Not true, Wolf. Big recalls make big headlines:

        • Antone says:

          The bolt recall IS a huge thing as a percentage of all EVs. You need to learn statistics. And the recall is a fundamental issue with batteries, not an air bag issue or something less integral to the cars functioning.

          I get the electric chainsaw argument below, but that ain’t a car that you use to drive you and your gear hundreds of miles up a mountain.

          Something in the water in SF and Cali in general makes people think and act like south park characters, maybe it’s all of the non existent homeless poop ;)

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The recall is handled by a software update.

          They had five fires at 60,000-plus Bolts.

          OK, time for statistics. Between 2014 and 2016, ICE vehicle had an average EVERY YEAR of 171,500 fires, killing 345 people every year. But ICE vehicles are not recalled when they go up in flames. We’re used to that. You know, gasoline and heat will do that. Part of nature.

        • Lee says:

          “But when 60,000 Bolts are recalled, it’s like this HUGE thing.”

          Well in terms of total numbers it isn’t, but it is in terms of annual production.

          That is about 4 years of annual USA production being recalled.

          It would be like Toyota recalling some 40 million cars at one time.

          And by the way, I did have the opportunity to drive a VOLT – at least when it wasn’t being repaired for one reason or another. Very quiet, smooth ride, and felt very “heavy”………….

        • Wolf Richter says:


          Recalls generally go for the entire model year or several model years that have that particular part. When Ford recalls F-150s for a fuel leak or whatever, it will state that the recall affects all F-150 model years 2018-2020 with x engine. Just some examples of big US recalls:

          Volkswagen recalled 8.5 million vehicles in 2016.

          Toyota recalled 9 million vehicles in 2010.

          GM (Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC) recalled 3.5 million SUVs and pickups in 2019.

      • kevin says:

        Dan, you’ve hit many of the sore points of the Fossil Fuel lobbyists.
        This EV trend is catching onto the mainstream and I foresee it will move eventually to many other sectors related to transportation & logistics even construction – such as electric backhoes, electric forklifts, motorbikes, electric ships/yachts, commercial electric airliners etc.

        Anecdotally, I’m seeing a gradual shift in consumer preferences from gas to electric chainsaws too over the past few years.

        Some reluctance to move to EVs for F1 and motorsports fans though, which I suspect could be due to the lack of ear-splitting loud “vroom” sounds. EV sportscars would be relatively quiet in comparison to ICE ones.

        Imagine a racetrack where all the cars are racing in silence… :-0 and the organisers have to install loudspeakers on the EVs just to have some noise pollution to artificially excite the audience enough to pay tickets to watch the race. lol.

        There will come a time too when those pointless Fast & Furious movie sequels (whats it now at? F&F 8 or 9 ?) are going to be so ‘last-century’ when they rev their noisy ICE engines onscreen trying very hard to look cool. It will be like the scene in the old movie “Wall Street” where Michael Douglas, playing Gordon Gecko, receives his gigantic brick model mobile phone upon release from prison.

        • B says:

          Such races already exist with the Formula E. Races are run in city centers as a result.

        • Mark says:

          You’re right Kevin. I’m still slightly amazed that I have a battery-powered lawnmower. A BATTERY LAWNMOWER! Crazy talk.

          It works a treat. Its endurance is more than enough for a good-size suburban block.

          I appreciate:
          – no repairs
          – no trouble starting
          – quiet
          – no walking around the lawn in a fog of exhaust gases
          – no storage of fuel.

          There is already electric car racing, by the way. Formula E.

        • One reason I went to an electric chainsaw a couple of years ago, for mainly tree trimming/small tree cutting, same for my weedwhacker, was the elimination of breathing large amounts of oil/gas exhaust fumes …… I am sure that mixture will prove cancerous over time. When it comes to a large tree to fell and cut up, you will still need a 16 inch plus blade with a gas powered chainsaw, it is just physics and torque per volt!! Plus that pesky cord is tough to get into the woods and to your target that may be 100’s of feet from the house.

        • California Bob says:

          Electric/battery-powered chainsaws are fine for pruning bushes around the house, but not for commercial/agricultural work. I just cut down a couple dozen almond trees; it was a long day’s work, would’ve taken much longer if I had to stop and recharge my chainsaw every couple trees.

        • Fat Chewer. says:

          I ❤ my electric chainsaw. ?

        • char says:

          @California Bob

          All the electric gardening tools i see have a separated standardized battery you plug in the tool. Would a spare battery not work?

      • Dan Romig says:

        Polaris’ CEO, Scott Wine, has just announced that he is stepping down at the end of the year to take over CNH Industrial, headquartered in London.

        Polaris has done well since Wine took over in 2008. And Case IH makes a good combine, I reckon. That will continue with Mr. Wine at the helm of CNH I’d wager.

  6. KGC says:

    I wonder if the future is going to be custom bodied basic platforms? Buy the chassis and running gear, put in your own software, and have a body made by todays version of Rollson or Fisher.

    I have yet to see lawmakers thinking far enough into the future on this. We have electric two wheeled “bicycles” that go 40 MPH and do not require licensing or training, and I haven’t seen anything on safety standards for those yet either.

    Likewise, it should be extremely easy to build a sub-$10,000 four wheeled vehicle that could get around town. I cannot believe that people wouldn’t buy such a thing in Europe or the USA. But if that happens the era of $100,000 F150’s is going to crash.

    Tesla, like DeLoren, seriously underestimated the difficulty of manufacturing and marketing enough volume to upset the market. At some point first world consumers are going to start questioning why lesser developed countries can market a car for less than one fifth the cost of the average car in their countries.

    Just like cell phones; it makes no sense to pay $100/month in Kansas for the same level and quality of service that can be had for $10/month in Kuwait.

    • Zantetsu says:

      “Just like cell phones; it makes no sense to pay $100/month in Kansas for the same level and quality of service that can be had for $10/month in Kuwait.”

      That is nonsensical. You are saying that all goods should cost the same everywhere (apparently they should all cost the same as the cheapest price anywhere?) regardless of the costs of doing business or providing the service in the locality in which the good or service is delivered.

      If you want $10 cell phone service, move to Kuwait. If you want the better quality of life that comes from living in Kansas (an assumption for sure), then expect to pay more for the goods and services that allow you to live there, because the quality of life all around you that makes you prefer Kansas, COSTS MONEY.

      • RightNYer says:

        No, not nonsensical. His point is that much of the cost difference is not due to the cost of providing the good of service, but due to the makers increasing prices based on the perceived ability of the consumer to pay. In an increasingly global world, that becomes harder and harder to justify

        • Phillip says:

          What are the chances that cheap Chinese ev’s will be kept out of the market by protectionist measures like happened to the better built Japanese cars back in the 1980’s, I believe it was, when the US automakers cried to the government to stop those evil foreigners from giving the US citizens a better product at a lower price.

        • John Ralston says:

          @Phillip: stunningly cheap Chinese EVs are apparently soon to be available in the US. Kanadi Technologies has received Environmental Protection Agency clearance to import and sell two models one of which would retail as little as $6K in some markets with Federal and State incentives..

        • John Ralston says:

          Excuse me: Kandi Technologies. KNDI.

      • KGC says:

        Having been to both Kansas and Kuwait I’d take Kuwait.

        But the point I was trying to make is that it costs the same to make the phone and provide the service, the rest is profit. It actually costs more to put up a tower in Kuwait (well, it did when they were putting them up, but now the whole country has coverage (unlike Kansas) so it’s just maintenance and signal).

        It doesn’t have to cost more to live in Kansas. Quality of life is only marginally determined by the cost of material goods.

        Tesla’s original plan was to make a vehicle that met the standards and needs of an American Family with one tenth of the parts, 20% of the labor required, and at a lower cost to the consumer. That’s entirely reasonable. It also scared the hell out of the automotive industry, and so politicians immediately started throwing up roadblocks and media started pointing out “faults”.

        Can we even imagine how much better life would be if everyone had said, “That’s a great idea, let’s all do it!” instead of spend 15 years saying it couldn’t be done and if it could it would destroy our lifestyle.

        Friedman is right, the world is flat, and it’s living in the past that’s expensive.

        • J7915 says:

          Just a thought: could VW have jumped into the EV market right after Tesla set the paradign, by simple reviving the origional Beetle?
          Flat belly pan perfect for the large flat batteries, stab an electric motor on the transaxle. Reasonably light weight body and lots of leg room for tall drivers. Anyone remember the basketball player endorsements? Tweek the tranny a little to adapt rpm ranges.

        • nick kelly says:

          RE: VW. No, the world’s largest auto outfit should NOT have slapped together some improvised contraption designed to send the Teslerati into gales of laughter and jokes and permanently damage their rep in the EV space.

          I owned a Beetle and have a soft spot for them but would be scared to go around even a mild corner in one today much past 50 MPH. ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ by Nader was about Corvair’s tendency to roll but could have been about Beetle. If you see one on a hoist with rear axles hanging down you see why.

          On an electrified Beetle no doubt the bumpers would stay on but they will on the clean sheet designs also.

          But it would be an interesting project for a hobbyist mechanic.

        • Dan Romig says:

          Chevy redesigned the rear suspension layout for the ’65 and beyond Corvair, but the damage was done. From ’95 to ’99, a ’65 Monza coupe with PowerGluide was my daily driver. Needed an air dam & weight front & center in the forward-side trunk.

          The ‘New Beetle’ was worked on by Tesla’s designer as I recently commented.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        We cannot possibly support multi-million dollar telecommunication executive salaries if they charged only $10/month for cell phone service.

    • endeavor says:

      All the car auto makers will become battery mfgs. The vehicle will be the razor and the battery the blade. No other way for affordability to be had.

    • Old School says:

      You can license a golf cart in NC and probably in most states. They have to meet basic requirements such as seat belts, turn signals, insurance. They are convenient ways to run across town in resort areas.

    • Happy1 says:

      It isn’t “extremely easy” for anyone to build a 10K EV for sale in the US, safety regs are costly, and consumers in the US don’t prefer microcars like they do in Asia. If it was so easy, they would already be here.

      People in the US like larger vehicles. Those could be EV, but up until now, EV is way more expensive. And can’t drive cross country. It’s going to be a while for EV to displace ICE in the US.

  7. Anthony A. says:

    I just hope there are plans by power producers to be able to supply all the current necessary to charge all these BIG batteries when they hit the streets.

    In places like California where power is especially expensive, the charging costs may be “eye opening”. And you better believe that the power companies will be responsive to increasing night rates and try to maximize their income when the demand goes up when folks plug in at night.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Anthony A.,

      Utilities are loving this. They’re practically giddy about EVs.

      In the US, the problem that electric utilities have is two-fold:

      1. The long-term stagnation of electricity sales, which started in 2008, and the continued increase in capacity and capital expenditures:

      2. An enormous amount of idle capacity in the middle of the night – all this infrastructure and equipment, that is not used in the middle of the night because electricity demand is small compared to the peak demand during the day. And the system is built to handle the peaks. Idle capacity is very expensive for utilities – and rate payers are paying for it.

      EVs are going to solve both of those problems for electric utilities: they will increase demand, and they will increase demand in the middle of the night when people charge up their cars in their garages, and thus they’re reducing this enormous and costly idle capacity at night.

      IN ADDITION, utilities Love EVs because the additional demand allows them to invest in capacity additions and additional future revenue streams. That’s how utilities operate: they make a big capital investment, with cheaply borrowed money, that produces a steady revenue and income stream for decades. They build whole power plants on that model. That’s their business model: make big investments and get a return from it over the next few decades.

      Utilities love to sell electricity because that’s their business. More sales is better. When a new multistory building goes up, the utility installs a new power line to it from one of its trunk lines, and the utility may upgrade those major lines to handle an area with a high-rise construction boom, free of charge to the building owners. In San Francisco, these new lines are underground. It’s a big investment in future cash flows from increased sales of electricity.

      • MiTurn says:

        The question is, can the grid handle an increase in demand without some serious upgrades? This seems to be the million dollar question no one is asking.

        The electricity used by an EV to 100 miles is equal to what a typical household consumes in a day. And the hope is to replace all gasoline powered vehicles and tools — lawnmowers, chainsaws, rototillers, boat motors, everything with electricity.

        Just a thought, but one that keeps getting overlooked.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Don’t worry about the capitalism of investment: when there is the prospect of profit and growth, there will investment. As I pointed out in my comment above, utilities are loving this. They have no trouble selling bonds with low coupons and using the funds to create growing future cash flows. Electric utilities have been stuck in a stagnant/declining industry for a decade. So there has been little investment because there’s no growth. EV power demand is their way out. GROWTH, finally!!

      • Anthony A. says:

        Wolf, thanks for the reply and I understand the upcoming need to supply all that new power. The one point I try to make is that the power companies will seize these opportunities to increase rates now that they will have the additional demand during traditionally low power sales periods.

        This may be a good time to invest in the right power companies that have long term growth.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes, it’s almost funny who capitalism works: now electric utilities are clamoring to own the charging stations — meaning massively, so that they can get the full retail price of juice sold via the charging stations. And if they have their way, they’d like to get a local or regional monopoly, just like they have at your house, in order to eliminate price competition. But utilities are in a regulated industry, so we’ll see how that turns out.

      • Heinz says:

        W., appreciate these insights from a great analyst.

        But it may not all be smooth going for electric utilities if EVs replace most ICE vehicles in all classes (obviously it won’t happen overnight).

        I hear often about how our national electric grid infrastructure is aging and frail (due to lack of investments in maintaining and modernizing it– most of that infrastructure was built decades ago).

        To upgrade it to support national transportation that runs mostly on electricity would take time and barrels of money (pardon pun). Rate payers would pay for it out the wazoo.

        Witness the rolling blackouts in California recently because the grid was not up to demand challenges (and their crazy politicians went all-in on adopting renewable energy sources– which are not as scalable, robust and reliable as fossil fuel-powered power plants).

        California is a test case for rest of US because New Green Deal might actually be implemented in some fashion.

        No, I see an energy crisis on horizon if push to EV revolution happens too quickly.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Oh, and here about electricity sales in California, and why electric utilities are giddy about EVs and the prospect of growth:

      • Lee says:

        Nah, here in Oz utilities love it when a single family house gets torn down and three townhouses are put up on the block.

        They get to charge three sets of monthly supply charges instead of one.

        A huge increase in profit for doing nothing.

        Its like when we put up our panels years ago.

        We had to go from the spinning disc meter to a digital meter to read both input and output and record it by time period.

        That cost us A$300 to put the meter in. We don’t own the meter though.

        And when we put up panels they forced us on to a Time Of Use (TOU) plan which jacked up the day time price of electricity, but had a cheaper off peak rate. Of course, that is not all what it seemed as the state government here let the utilities charge people with panels an extra 10% for electricity for the privilege of putting up panels. That extra charge went on for years and years until it was canned.

        Then the government mandated that everybody had to put in those ‘smart meters’ which of course we already had, but wait – the new ones had to be able to read remotely. Ours wasn’t capable of that so it had to be replaced – luckily we didn’t have to pay again for that , but when the new meter was installed and the figures read again (where – I don’t know) we got a credit for some 100 kWh of generated electricity that somehow fell though the cracks.

        And guess what? Yep, we still get a manual meter reading every three months becuase the software/hardware to read the meter remotely doesn’t work!!!

        And the TOU plan that they forced us on is now grandfathered so we can still get cheap off peak electricity – so that sort of backfired on them, however, we can’t change providers or we’d lose that TOU plan………………….

  8. Javert, Chip says:

    I suspect with what looks like $100B dollars chasing the EV unicorn, we’ll soon bump into the “you can’t get a baby in a month by impregnating 9 women” problem.

    Other car companies have given Tesla years of pretty open (read: uncompetitive) playing fields for EVs, and Musk has made a lot of investors very wealthy.

    I highly doubt those rates of return will exist for this next $100B of EV investment.

    • char says:

      Those investments in Tesla were more risky and the returns are ludicrous so saying the next $100 billion will have lower returns is probably right.

      ps. Next? I don’t think the world has spend $100 billion on electric cars.

  9. Prof. Emeritus says:

    I have a feeling that we are about to see a generation of overengineered products that may potentially bankrupt a few of these automotive giants. Developing a no-thrills electric car is one thing, adding words like “own software”, “self-driving” or “AI” to the business plan is another. And generally a great way if someone wants to see project costs skyrocket. Companies like VW may have changed their goals, but they can’t change their thinking. Failure by being overinvested in next-gen technologies is just as risky as being left out.

    • Engin-ear says:

      Agree. In 2010, Nissan put its Leaf at the US and Japan markets after €4Bn investment done by Renault-Nissan Alliance.

      Cheap and honest (for an EV) mean of transportation. Small though, but prouves the concept.

      The “self-driving part” is not at all specific to EV.

    • Fat Chewer. says:

      Yes, I agree too. I come from the Keep It Simple, Stupid school of engineering.

  10. pete Stubben says:

    Funny how a year ago (& two years ago & 3 years ago) commentary here was full of umbrage and outrage at this company that produced no profits, yet whose stock skyrocketed on solar panels and a few thousand electric cars. Commentary’ists also forecasted, one following the other, ruination not just to Tesla stock but to all equities!!!…PJS

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Tesla’s stock price is more nuts than ever. But you’ve got to separate the industry and vehicles from the stock prices.

      • kevin says:

        Wolf has got it pat down with this article and comment.

        There are many EV companies now vying for a share of this market. I’ve often said too : Many, if not most of them Unicorns, will die / go bankrupt inevitably; but those FEW that survive the creative-destruction phase will be the next Fords, VWs or Toyotas to dominate the scene for the next century or so …..until a better replacement technology arrives .
        (Like maybe anti-grav for flying cars anyone? lol)

        This same phenomenon has happened in many other tech-related industries too, like computers, mobiles (remember Nokia or Motorola? ;), even software IDE platforms gets disrupted very rapidly these days.

        If you really have to bet, buy the entire industry (e.g. IDRV / DTEC), but don’t get suckered into paying sky-high prices for any individual stocks – which in my opinion has a very high probability of going up in flames.

        Of course, any number of investors will tell me you’ve got to risk big to win big too :)

    • Happy1 says:

      Easy fella, the long run isn’t over yet on Tesla

  11. Sir Eduard R. Dingleberry III says:

    I would love to buy a Tesla. It’s a cool piece of technology. I’m just not convinced these things will last as long as a Toyota. Can anyone convince me otherwise?

    • Pedro says:

      Plenty of cab companies have already put 500k miles on their Teslas and have reported that their maintenance costs are less than that of an ICE.. and about the same if not better reliability.

      Trust the cab companies. They know more about reliability and maintenance than any car owner.

      • Sir Eduard R. Dingleberry III says:

        Interesting! Thanks Pedro. Didn’t know about the taxis. I will look into this some more. My main concern is the number of years an EV will last. They seem to last more for a period of time rather than a number of miles from what I can tell.

        • Javert, Chip says:

          Don’t get confused between maintenance of the batteries & the test of the car.

          If you scrape away all the unicorn poop (self-driving S/W, flamethrower & other trivia) an EV is a hell of a lot less expensive to build, and, EXCLUDING BATTERIES, much less expensive to maintain.

          The issue is the batteries.

      • Rare Earth says:

        True the cab company down in LA reports high longevity, however they have had to replace their batteries.

      • nick kelly says:

        A cab puts miles on way faster than most private cars. It also has a long overnight time to charge SLOWLY and most important is almost never taken out of its area of operation. The driver doesn’t go on road trips, or take his cab on holidays and hope to run into superchargers.

        It has almost the same user profile as a delivery van, it just delivers people. Both are PERFECTLY suited for an EV. Only an idiot disputes a role for EV s. The airline operating between Van Isle and the mainland is converting some planes to E. Makes sense: short flights, scheduled use, to the same place where it they know it can recharge.

        Don’t trust (i.e. expect) a cab’s use to be a guide to the average consumer use. A busy cab might have to fill up every two days. This completely changes the math about the decision. This is why we had cabs on natural gas, then they were all hybrids, now many going electric.

        No normal cab co runs one for more than a few years. It is fully depreciated and has paid for itself. The life of the battery in YEARS not miles is of little concern.

        That’s where it gets hard to get answers out of Tesla. The issue with charging time was solved
        with the supercharger. Excessive use of the supercharger shortens the life of the battery.
        So what if you are one of those impatient guys who just does that: what will a new battery cost?
        First response is: ‘you shouldn’t worry about this’ because it’s good for 200 K miles’

        When shopping ICE, a main concern IS the miles. If the auto has been well maintained the age may be almost irrelevant. We all know someone with a 20 year old car that apart from style is as good as new. That is not the case with batteries that degrade if not used at all.

        When the guy bought the 2103 Leaf in 2016 it had 16K miles on it. They told him a new battery would ‘probably be about 5K C $’
        But when the time came (it was down to 70 %) it was 15 K C $.

        So if your brand new Tesla battery drops to just below 70% range after a year, what will it cost to replace?
        Warranty? Actually it can only deliver 70% the first week and not be covered. T only guarantees 70%.

        OK, so what would it cost?

        Anybody, anybody?

  12. Unseld says:

    Ever heard of capital destruction as a precondition for new growth? Well, here you have a prime example: Cancel culture for fuel cars (you know, climate catastrophe, just 10 years to live etc…). So everyone has to buy a new car. Perfect solution for a saturated market. On top of it: Machines generating an awfull amount of data! Perfect solution for google&surveillance state. What’s not to like? What could possibly go wrong?

    Well, what if your average guy, with job lossed growing, does’nt have the money to buy these new electrical wonder machines? Or, horrible thought, does’nt want them? (You know, charching times, limited miles per charge etc.) Outlaw fuel cars? As in “the Californian way”?

    If you cut through all the hype this is still an industry based on wishfull thinking: that, one day, magically, a battery is invented with a storage capacity and storage speed equal to fuel tanks and fuel cars. And that’s after years and years of research into battery development. Good luck with that.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Reality is, someone is buying these EVs, every single one of them. They don’t end up in the landfill. No one is forcing you to buy an EV. Even if you don’t buy one, there are plenty of people willing to buy them. And the automakers have figured this out. Or else they wouldn’t invest all this money in EVs.

      • ak says:

        I am not sure you have a mechanical engineering background (I do).

        There are multiple glaring issues with EVs. Here are some:

        – energy density – gasoline holds at least 40 times more energy per volume compared to the latest and greatest lithium ion battery

        This means that EV has to hold about 40 times the volume in batteries compared to ICE gas tank to achieve similar range.

        – Charging time: 1 minute (ICE) Vs. 1-8 hours EV [full charge]

        – Lithium mining is extremely dirty and destroys environment. Also, there is a very real possibility of massive lithium shortages as well.

        – Lithium ion batteries are extremely expensive to recycle and economically unfeasible. Lithium ion batteries also happen to be very toxic and easily combustible if compromised.

        – EV is moving fire bomb and requires special toxic (and very expensive) fire extinguisher to put out EV fire. Water doesn’t work.

        – EV only has energy storage (batteries) while ICE has energy producer on board (gasoline).
        This means that you still have to burn some sort of fossil fuel to get your electrons, and then transmit them over power lines (with energy loss).
        And ‘renewables’ will not provide you with enough energy.

        If not for all the carbon credits and subsidies, EVs would not be able to compete with ICE until much better/cleaner battery tech is avail.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          This is so hilarious. People have posted this BS for 10 years, including the outdated and silly links from years ago… that EVs will never work because yada-yada-yada… “and I know because I’m a mechanical engineer” or whatever, and for 10 years, the BS hasn’t changed, and meanwhile, EVs are everywhere, and they’re working great, and people who own them like them, and automakers are spending 10s of billions of dollars to grow this piece of the auto industry, and EV sales are surging, even as ICE vehicles are falling. So keep dreaming that EVs don’t work ?

          BTW, the vehicles produced by a Tesla and GM no longer qualify in the US for the federal subsidies. And they’re selling just fine.

      • Truckman says:

        But they will be forcing you to buy one, and the manufacturers have to plan ahead. For example, Quebec will announce Monday that they will ban gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          So the day before the ban goes into effect, you buy an ICE vehicle. That will be 15 years from now. If you take care of the vehicle, it’ll run 20 years. So then 35 years from now, you’ll have to look for another set of wheels. That’s a long time off. I’m not gonna worry about what I might or might not be able to buy in 35 years ?

          And if you’re into buying/easing the latest-and-greatest, you’ll be buying/leasing EVs long before then.

        • Truckman says:

          I suspect the manufacturers, support and parts systems, gas stations,etc will be gone long before the 20 year life of an ICE vehicle bought in 2035 will be up. And the government will find a way to ban ICE vehicles or tax them out of use as soon as the ownership percentage drops to a politically acceptable level. This is not just a technology replacement, but a crusade to “save the planet”.

      • Rare Earth says:

        Except when governments force you to through regulations. If EVs are so great, people would buy them without incentives. No government ever put penalties on a horse to get people to buy a car. No government put penalties on a cell phone to get people to buy a smartphone. Let the consumer decide.

        • char says:

          Are you sure about shitty horses that shit on the road. They were certainly banned in a lot of places. Besides a carriage drought by horses is much slower than a T-Ford and would likely been banned from some roads. Horses were also taxed. Commanded during WWI and missing after WWI.

          The “Fur war alles besser” crowd never studies history.

          Dumb-phones can’t handle G5 and the older G’s are taken away by the government so bye-bye dumb-phone

      • Unseld says:

        Woa, in Europe they are forcing you out of fossil fuel cars and into EVs. An extra progressive CO2 tax on fossil fuel cars, getting higher every year. Ever smaller allowed CO2 limits for car companies, which are unreachable with their present products, forcing them to pay a) high penalties and b) build EVs as mean to reduce their CO2 “impact”. Plus: Several countries outlaw the selling of new fossil fuels cars beginning with 2030 / 2035 etc. Ehem. California has the same plan. So no forcing? No?

    • Xabier says:

      You are very correct in that these vehicles, along with all other ‘fully-connected’ devices, are the perfect fit for an inescapable corporate Totalitarian state.

      The civil liberties aspect of the ‘4th Industrial Revolution’ are immense and ominous.

      We face a Soviet Union 2.0. but with lots of nice shiny things and more diversions than vodka and sex oh, and chess. And the comforting delusion of ‘Saving the Planet'(TM)

      If we were wise, we would, collectively, and individually, reject unfettered technological development and ask ‘Is it truly desirable?’

      But we are not wise, and will be enslaved and financialised more fully than we are even now.

      Worrying about how they can be powered is comparatively trivial.

      • Zantetsu says:

        Would you say that we are slaves to grocery stores? I personally cannot even live without grocery stores. I cannot grow my own food, I don’t have the land, the expertise, or the time.

        So I guess the advancement of technology has made me a slave to grocery stores, dependent on them to survive.

        Thing is, I wouldn’t WANT to not be a slave to grocery stores. I wouldn’t want to have to grow all of my own food.

        The rest of your comment sounds like that same argument to me. Like we’re all slaves to technology because it’s made our lives vastly better and we’d rather have vastly better lives than crappy ones.

      • Dan Romig says:

        At the risk of repeating myself Xabier, up until recently I was not a fan of too much technology in vehicles. “Is it truly desirable?”

        But now, yes it is desirable to have a computer interface to adjust ABS, traction control and wheelie control on a ‘hyper-naked’ motorbike.

        Same thing on a sports car. The diff is able to distribute power under active control, and that makes the car perform better and be more enjoyable to drive.

        Minnesota made holding a cell phone while driving a motor vehicle against the law (that hasn’t stopped many drivers from doing so though), and having a Bluetooth connection in a vehicle is the way to go.

        You can get a bike now that has all cables routed internally for less aero drag, hydraulic disc brakes which are night and day better (as well as safer) than rim brakes, and Bluetooth gear shifting that controls the battery powered derailleurs flawlessly.

        Are these technologies needed? Not really, but they sure as hell improve one’s driving and riding experiences.

    • Phillip says:

      What will happen when 50 or 70% of the gas stations are gone because of falling demand for gasoline and it becomes a total pain to fill up vs your neighbour who takes 5 seconds to plug in his/her car each night, and saves money over the life of the car. I suspect that even with the decreased demand for gasoline, the price at the pump will be high because of much less competition from so few gas stations.

      • endeavor says:

        The price will be higher to recharge your EV too. The skunk in the woodpile is who is going to pay for the multi trillion grid and infrastructure needed world wide?

        • beetle2030 says:

          The grid needs to be updated anyway. Do I smell a big govt supported infrastructure project?

          But you’ll need less grid if lots more houses have solar panels on the roof and a storage battery. No reason the govt cannot sponsor this too.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          Bond investors are eager to fund that investment and get wealthier from it because that’s what they do to make money: they fund capital investments and collect the interest paid for by the cash flow from that investment. It’s the classic way of investing.

        • KGC says:

          That’s not a skunk, that’s an investment opportunity.

        • Lee says:

          “But you’ll need less grid if lots more houses have solar panels on the roof and a storage battery.”

          No, you’ll still need the grid, but it will have to be a beefed up grid being able to handle a huge number of inputs with varying outputs. More hardware and a lot more software too.

          And adding a battery won’t make that much of a difference either.

          We already have a lot of rootop solar here in Oz (IIRC about 25% of the houses here now have it) and we have capacity and fequency problems already.

          Some areas already limit the amount of panels, output to the grid, and some don’t even allow new installs as a result.

        • Javert, Chip says:

          Wild-assed guess:

          1) Only a tiny portion of ICE or EV private cars (<5-10%?) drive more than the current 400 mile forced recharging threshold in a given day.

          2) The vast majority of (future) EVs will be recharged at home & at night (between midnight & 5a).

          3) Coincidently, the existing electrical grid is vastly under utilized from midnight to 5a.

      • Anthony A. says:

        I guess Starbucks can pot a coffee shop on each corner where a gas station was? I mean, it only makes sense….

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Perfect. When will Starbucks cut a deal with the utilities and put charging stations in the parking lot? Or vise versa.

      • Wolf Richter says:


        Yes, that is going to be an issue. And it’s already happening where I live (San Francisco): many of the old gas stations are replaced by residential buildings. The property is just too valuable for selling gasoline. There are now more charging stations than gas stations. Charging stations are a cheap easy investment. You need the utility to bring in the power line (they’ll be happy to do it because of future electricity sales), you need a little bit of parking, and the charging equpment. That’s it. They installed a handful of chargers on one side of the small-ish parking lot at the Walgreens a block from here. They’re doing it everywhere.

        There were nearly 28,000 charging stations in the US, nearly a quarter of them in California, at the end of 2019:

        • Lee says:

          Can hardly wait until those charging stations get hit by vandals or those peaceful protests going on in the big cities

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Oh lordy. At least, charging stations are low-cost and cannot go up in flames when 1,000 gallons of fuel catch fire, unlike gas stations.

        • Lee says:

          Ah, come on man, people still steal copper wire, don’t they?

          I can already see it: these miracle unattended charging stations being hit by idiots intent on destoying things. Pulling off cables and other parts of the stations.

          How many public telephones have their cords ripped off?

          Even here in OZ we have the idiots wrecking the bus stop shelters. First they used glass and wehn when that was broken they went to plexiglass like material. Still didn’t stop the idiots.

          Even the local park is now being hit with dolts wrecking the lights.

      • char says:

        In a normal business you will see the drop of outlets only slowly follow the drop in sales because of write off but in this case i think they will be helped along by politics and will the number drop much faster then you would expect

  13. George W says:

    I like my coffee black.
    No cream, no sugar, just regular coffee.

    Reliability is what I look for in a vehicle, the simpler the better.
    To me EV’s simplify the vehicle concept and when times are tough, reliability is everything.

    I spoke with a new driver today, a mechanic that is now driving an Amazon van. The Guy said he was great at diagnosing mechanical issue but that the work was now to unpredictable. One week 2 grand the next two weeks nothing. He commented that people were having him diagnose the issue and then completing the repair themselves. The mechanic said the country is going to shit and that he recently bought 5 acres in Nevada that he intends to farm…

    The countdown to Xmas is on and Amazon deliveries are pitiful. The ever resilient, reliable consumer, so far, is nowhere to be found.

    • lenert says:

      Isn’t a “regular coffee” cream and sugar?

      • Anthony A. says:

        I think around 60 years ago it was assumed that if you ordered regular (cream and two sugars).

        • Stephen C. says:

          Just listened to an interesting BBC podcast In Our Time about the history of coffee.

          So as not to be off topic, I’d like to request a built in espresso maker in my new electric vehicle, thank you very much.

  14. Wisoot says:

    Fully connected mobility means 5G 6G directed cars. If manufacturer is responsible for crashes, manufacturer decides most ergonomic shape. Shape standardisation far from sexy will reflect the product, a composite material bucket, a rented battery and a computer program. Windows with down up buttons removed due to unergonomic wind tunnels. Control of the road network is no longer down to you but centralised and satellitised. Where will testosterone get redirected then or are they getting rid of that too? Electric batteries evolve into magnets in coil once the middle east and rulers take the handbrake off free energy patents. Driving on rubber wheels an antique notion. A little magnetic field underneath removes friction thus reducing nuts and bolts moving parts. More sustainable for planet, less fun for Gen X. Gen Z has been fully programmed since birth on 360 degree movement in 3D space so new fun awaits, the up direction and moving in 4D 5D.

  15. Engin-ear says:

    Amazing to see the automakers in so expensive race for the best AI, which is not at all the core of their traditional business.

    Sad for their employees if the payrolls are cut.

    Is it better in other sectors? The automation tools vendors (like Microsoft and others) spread forecasts about 20-40% jobs automated out in near future.

  16. Anthony says:

    With petrol/Gas prices here in the UK being around $6.61 for a UK gallon…electric cars look great, especially as most people rarely do long distance driving but we all know that gas/petrol tax is a great way to raise money for the Govt and that they will have to raise taxes on EV’s one day, when everyone has one. So enjoy the cheap EV running times, it will not last…..

    • DawnsEarlyLight says:

      They are already suggesting a ‘work from home’ tax, due to the decreased use of infrastructure and the means of supporting it.

  17. Realist says:

    Regarding EVs (and hybrids too), I wonder what the general consequences will be concerning the batteries when they age. Will these batteries become a new huge enviromental problem ? What will happen with older cars when the battery needs to be renewed considering the cost of renewal ? Will there be any market for clunkers available to the fortunate part of the population ?

    Btw, in some markets French Renault sells the EVs, but the battery isn’t included in the sale, instead the buyer leases the battery from Renault.

    • Realist says:

      Correction of typo:

      “less fortunate population” not “fortunate population”

      • BuySome says:

        If it’s government by the wealthy as usual, then expect cash-for-clunkers for the fortunate. For the unfortunate it will be 10 thousand month loans at 25%+ interest recalculated daily based upon the electro sensor’s view of how much excess toast you had at breakfast.

    • Phillip says:

      There will be a huge recycling industry of the batteries. Count on capitalism to solve this. It will be a lot easier to recycle a big car battery than a thousand laptop batteries. And replacing a modular battery will be a lot easier that replacing an ice engine or transmission. And as the range goes down in an ev then they will be available as clunkers at a lower price.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Recycling a big car battery requires recycling the thousands and thousands of little batteries in each car’s big battery. Non-trivial.

        • Zantetsu says:

          Straw man. He didn’t say it was trivial. He said it was easier to recycle car batteries than laptop batteries. This seems obvious given that car batteries contain thousands of cells which can be recycled all at once, whereas with a laptop you have to extract the batteries out of the shells of thousands of laptops to get the same number of cells to recycle, and then you have to do something with all of those laptop shells.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          @Z – a real straw man – “…all at once,”
          Yeah, right, all at once in the magical car battery eater.

        • Zantetsu says:

          Really Lisa_Hooker? So your argument has devolved into simply denying the common meaning of phrases in the English language?

          In this context “all at once” means “many batteries recycled at approximately the same time from the large EV battery pack”, in contrast to laptop recycling, where the same number of battery cells would have to be collected from a whole bunch of laptops, a significantly more complicated and costly task.

          Nobody ever said any of this was trivial, but you continue to talk as if that’s the point in contention.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Yo, Z – are you the fellow that said “it all depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.” You’re arguing mere semantics. I raised the issue of recycling a laptop battery that typically contain 3-9 cells versus a Tesla battery pack that contains 5,000 to 8,000 cells. It is the cells that must be processed not a simple-minded “battery.”

      • Anthony A. says:

        Those big lithium ion batteries are made up of THOUSANDS of individual cells wired together. It’s not “one big battery”.

        • Zantetsu says:

          So would you be satisfied if he had instead said:

          “It will be a lot easier to recycle cells from a big car battery pack than batteries individually sourced from a thousand laptops.”

          That is what I assumed he meant.

      • Seneca’s Cliff says:

        Yes, capitalism will solve the recycling of batteries the same way it solved the recycling and or long term storage of spent nuclear fuel rods.

      • Javert, Chip says:

        What Lisa said.

        Google says a Tesla “battery” has 6,821 individual cells.

        • Zantetsu says:

          And obviously when it comes to recycling the important factor is, how costly is it to recycle versus how much value is there in the recycled product?

          The entire point of this discussion is that EV batteries are high value relative to the cost of recycling them. All of those cells are in one place (the battery pack), and thus much of the cost of recycling is amortized over a large number of cells. The recycled value is high because there are a lot of cells concentrated in a small area.

          Contrast to laptop batteries where the effort just to strip the batteries out of the laptop is hardly worth it – who wants to bother dealing with that just to recycle batteries that are worth a few dollars?

          Which is why the point is that recycling will happen with EV batteries, someone could actually make a business out of recycling those batteries because their value relative to the cost of recycling is so high.

    • MCH says:

      No more than landfill is a problem today. Actually, at some point in time, someone is going to look at a junkyard and figure out how to process the stuff in it in a way that it becomes a gold mine.

      From a pure material point of view, that’s exactly what it is. The only question is one associated with extraction. Well, sorting and extraction. Batteries are going to present a huge opportunity at some point for some one. Because it’s nothing more than a bunch of chemicals that are quite alike and needs to be broken down.

      • J7915 says:

        IIRC a German reycling fellow pointed out, in the 1990s that pre-1975 land fills were richer copper sources than mining ore. Doubt if the economics have changed.
        Other minerals are probably in a similar cost range.

        Ie. Land fill recycling versus ore extraction. It depends on the purity of the source.

  18. YuShan says:

    I think the long term economics of EV maker industry is terrible. Massive investment needed, but the end result will be very long lasting cars that are cheap (eventually), don’t need much maintenance/ replacement (i.e. killing their own business) and the whole industry will be highly commoditised. You will just end up with a few standard engine suppliers and battery suppliers that are highly competitive (=low margins), while the industry will be laden with debt.

    I think this is why VW (and others) emphasise software now, because they see a parallel with the PC industry where there turned out to be no margin in the actual hardware and the likes of Microsoft ended up making all the money. They think much of the margin will be software, as it will be the main way to differentiate from others (like Apple does with great success with smartphones and other iStuff). If they don’t invest in it, they know they are screwed in a few years time. (Btw: the likes of Apple and Google are also working on electric cars).

    As for Tesla, they have made EV cool and have the first-mover advantage. Because of this, they have a cool image and everybody wants their product. However, very soon EV will be totally mainstream and many other manufacturers are starting to make attractive EVs too. I think Tesla as a brand will soon lose the aura that they currently enjoy and they will end up competing on margin like everybody else and will achieve less market share than many believe right now. Imo, they should make the most of their current abilities to raise cash and strategically buy key component makers etc.

    • RightNYer says:

      Yep. The panels that go in monitors and TVs are a good example. Highly commoditized, much lower prices and only a few companies that actually make the panels.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      I await Apple’s iCar with lots of iStuff built-in.
      I much more eagerly await the high-end Italian designer’s cars. (0 to 100/kmph in <3 sec.)

    • char says:

      The car companies have a choice between being a PC maker or a type-writer maker. PC has more future.
      What also has to be realized is that electric motors and other stuff is getting so cheap that it will be cheaper to take a BEV, remove the battery and put a generator in front of the car than it is to have a classic motor & automatic transmission

  19. Truckman says:

    The auto manufacturers have decided, correctly I think, that the politicians in all major markets have decided to push EVs and will make whatever regulatory and/or subsidy changes are necessary to force that to happen. You can’t fight city hall.
    Thus, it makes no sense to do anything other than invest heavily in EV development. I don’t think Tesla is relevant.
    The reasons why don’t actually matter.
    I think what convinced the manufacturers were two aspects of the diesel situation. The first was the setting of conflicting standards that required both higher efficiency and lower emissions. No manufacturer was able to do this (there are physical engineering limits), so they made the engines efficient and faked the emissions tests. In the past, fakes like this have been ignored by the authorities, but not this time. Next, we see the proposed banning of diesels from many cities. This effectively bans the diesel vehicle as almost everyone needs to drive into a city at some point.
    As to consequences, Canada for one is basically screwed, as are most of the US States that border it. EV manufacturers won’t even publish range figures for cold temperatures (like below -10C), I note Tesla has removed their range calculator completely, and the driving tips tell you to turn the heating off – yeah, right. What’s Manitoba supposed to do, shut down for 4 months a year? I’ve had -40 or below for over a week up there, and if you run out of energy you die. As for what Tesla calls long range, I cannot drive to my nearest big city and back on one charge in the summer. Many people doing long distance drives will share the driving and do it in one long day, as the fuel tanks have the range. Stopping for recharges turns that one day drive into two, with all the consequences for motels, meals, etc, each way. With an ICE vehicle, the thing you need to do most often is change the time zone on the clock (I speak from experience), with EVs you become a battery manager 24/7.

    • Hamza says:

      My basic problem with EVs is that I will have to plan my life around the needs of my car. My car is supposed to be a convenience, not an inconvenience. So, until their ranges get materially longer, chargers are ubiquitous, and charging time is equivalent to the time it takes for a fill up– I’m sorry, just not interested. I’ve got enough problems.

      Plus, there is the essential problem with batteries vs oil, which is energy density. A kilogram Li-battery: 0.65 MJoule/kg.
      —Oil, diesel: 42 MJoule/kg

      Maybe EVs work over time, and more people buy them. But aircraft, tractors, bulldozers. I just don’t see it.

      Maybe different battery tech. Who knows.

      • Javert, Chip says:


        “…My basic problem with EVs is that I will have to plan my life around the needs of my car….”

        Really, Hamza; get a grip. You need to better control your car:

        If you’re an average private vehicle driver, how many days out of a 365 days/year are you planning to drive more than 400 miles (ie: presumed threshold of forced recharging)?

        5 days/year = 1.4% of year
        10 days/year = 2.7% of year
        15 days/year = 4.1% of year

        • Hamza says:

          Exactly the point. I don’t want to have to get “better control of my car”. I don’t want to have to think about it. (If I want to road trip when I feel like it, I shouldn’t have to plan around my car)

          I suspect that’s why after all this time, there is just not enough demand. Nobody I know is spending an hour at a rest stop to get charged up.

          And I don’t want to have to watch the meter if I’m driving aggressively(kills the charge real fast.

          For electrics to have majority adoption, the issues of range, speed of charging, and charging infrastructure have to be addressed. Lithium Ion batteries are probably not going to get us there. Otherwise, it’s going to be a limited market barring overbearing Govt intervention.

          And of course, there is the pathetic energy to mass issue with batteries.

        • char says:

          A 500 mile road trip? I think most people plan those but there are natural exceptions

        • Javert, Chip says:

          Well then. bless you little heart, and just agonize your life away.

          Personally, I have a whole hell of a lot of things that rate higher than waking up one morning to the sheer terror of having to drive an EV more than 400 miles on a single day.

    • endeavor says:

      As to consequences, Canada for one is basically screwed, as are most of the US States that border it. EV manufacturers won’t even publish range figures for cold temperatures (like below -10C)

      Us Northener’s will have to be content with gas/electric hybrids for a while. WE have one in the family and it is nice.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Anecdotal consumer information indicates a 40-50% loss of range below 20 degrees F. Put a propane heater in the passenger footwell and turn off the car heat. Also winter days are shorter days and the headlights/taillights add significant load. When you run the battery down rocking the car to get out of a snowbank you can’t grab the can from the trunk and walk to get more battery. A lot of folks promoting EVs live in the South or on a peninsula that limits the cold of winters.

      • Trailer Trash says:

        I foresee a nice little business of selling add-on propane heaters to battery car owners. Electric Ford snow plows will need a large generator in the bed to recharge batteries while plowing. Diesel powered, of course.

        Battery snowmobiles, a big Yes! to less noise and no smoke. But snowmobiles take a huge amount of energy to rotate those thick rubber tracks. Fellas getting 15 MPG figure they are doing pretty good.

        They will need to pull a separate battery sled, which can be conveniently swapped if one is near a battery station, but won’t be much fun for the dopes traveling 50+ miles per hour and running over jumps and so on (like the ones on the TV ads).

        I suspect that Fish & Game will stick with ICE snowmobiles and ICE pickup trucks. Highway snow plows will definitely stay with diesel engines. Those fellas will not allow themselves to get stranded and need rescuing.

  20. Xabier says:

    On wonders what the consequences will be for the workers in the German car plants in Southern Europe -very important to some city economies in Spain, for instance?

    Cheap workers compared to Germany, but the German unions must surely wish to see them cut first, and as many jobs retained in Germany as possible.

  21. Escher says:

    I suppose it is coming, but it will be a sad day indeed when we won’t hear the growl of a powerful IC engine any more.

  22. breamrod says:

    I sense that Elon is pissing off a lot of his liberal customers with all of his “libertarian talk”. It will eventually hurt his sales in the. U.S. The Chinese will steal all of his technology and then Tesla will be just another car co. in China one among many. Not a crash but a simple fade away. You know pioneers get an arrow in the back!

    • beetle2030 says:

      Musk will do or say or claim whatever he feels is needed to grab some headlines. It will all be forgotten in a short time, then rinse-lather-repeat.

      “His technology”? What is in any Musk project that anybody else could not also buy?

      “arrow in the back”? Sorry I can’t see EM as any kind of tragic victim, with the $100 billion he’s sifted off the various projects.

    • Anthony A. says:

      China already has his technology. He has a plant there, remember?

    • Trailer Trash says:

      Baker Electrics were made in 1900, so Elon is about 120 years too late to be a pioneer!

  23. Max Power says:

    The big question hanging over all of this is when will battery costs go down low enough to make EVs truly competitive cost-wise with ICE vehicles at point-of-sale. My guess is around 2026, give or take a year. As long as the major auto companies can get their EV offerings in good shape by then they will be fine. However, until that price parity arrives though, EV products will continue to be an exciting but still a very small portion of the overall automobile market.

    By 2026 most automakers should be on at least the second iteration of their designed from the ground up EV car platforms, meaning that by then they should have worked out most of the kinks associated with designing these brand new vehicles. Right now Tesla has the advantage in this realm but due to the still relatively high cost of batteries, their sales are still well below that of the major carmakers. If you listen to the Tesla fanboys though they will insist that the other car makers can’t catch up to Tesla. That is basically their entire argument for Tesla’s insane market valuation. Personally, I don’t think they’re right. There is still time for the others to catch up.

    • fajensen says:

      Doesn’t really matter:

      If one wants to drive a car into a German or Italian town center today, it cannot be done legally in a diesel car and it now or very soon has to be “Euro Cap 6” (or better), depending on local regulations, which means …. buying a new-ish car.

      Will one then buy something which will be in trouble in some years time (or sooner if they find that the manufacturer cheated on the tests) or just bite the bullet now and buy electric?

      In Germany and Italy there is also the possibilites of bicycling or public transport!

  24. beetle2030 says:

    The BEV is doomed to success by the mere fact that it allows manufacturing to CUT JOBS. Wall Street and corp management will be overjoyed at the vast headcount reduction that they can blame on the march of technology.

    Batteries and charging strategies need to be improved, but the incentive is there and it will happen. Same goes for the eco issues.

    Probably most consumers don’t yet understand that BEV’s will eliminate the maintenance and repairs required by the ICE. 90% or more cut in cost of ownership. With no reduction of any of the traditional comforts.

    At some point a consumer reeducation program will be launched, probably with govt help, to make that consumers understand this and then beat the path to the BEV showrooms.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      I consider cabin heat and range to be more than simply a traditional comfort. I live where it gets cold in the winter.

      As an aside, my home’s electric service entrance is diagonally opposite my garage. I estimate $5k-$10k installation costs to upgrade to get sufficient power to the garage, in addition to the cost of the charger itself. Or I could trickle charge for a day or two on a 15A circuit.

      • Truckman says:

        The charging upgrades are a big point which I’m glad you raised. Besides the point it makes about the cost of licensed installation costs (It cost me $600 in materials and a tame electrician to check it, and my garage is 160 feet from the house), there is also the fire risk. Many apartment complexes across the world have banned chargers because of ‘unexplained’ fires. Expect home insurance premiums to increase also.

    • Truckman says:

      Very funny. Go speak to Tesla owners about waiting months for replacement parts, and exorbitant prices for module replacements. I will cheerfully argue with you that the evidence shows that in practice, BEVs are a stupid idea for most people, both now and in the future. The 90% cut makes a lot of invalid assumptions.
      Reeducation was what the Chinese called their brainwashing camps, and that’s the only technique that will work.
      And I’m not a luddite. I’m actually building my own BEV which will be solar-charged, but it’s for a niche use, not general driving around, for which I have a half-ton pickup truck. A BEV is a sensible second vehicle in temperate climates, or would be if they made a cheaper base model, which they never will because the profit margins would be too small (Tesla Model 3 is a good example there).

    • Anthony A. says:

      “At some point a consumer reeducation program will be launched, probably with govt help, to make that consumers understand this and then beat the path to the BEV showrooms.”

      In other words, the gov will mandate this and we will be forced to understand and go buy a BEV? Kind of like Communism?

      What will be the penalty if you don’t conform?

      • BuySome says:

        The time on your life clock will be advanced to red. Don’t worry, our App is a “free” download. If you don’t get it soon, you’ll not be able to see the pretty pictures your “friends” took at Carousel. Capricorn 15’s, line up.

  25. Agnes says:

    Good article. Shaking up the giants was Musk’s original intent. Yes, batteries remain a serious problem. Also, in the US, reliability of the grid.

    • beetle2030 says:

      I think Musk’s intention was to make money for himself, while at the same time having the excitement in his life that can only come from the juggling act that he is now known for.

      He’s also been lucky. He showed up on the scene when Wall Street was willing to allow gigantic valuations on businesses that don’t meet the long established criteria; when there was a fanbase of tech- and entepreneur-loving customers to support his main business; and when his main business, the BEV, had become an idea whose time had come.Somebody had to do it and there he was.

      The grid needs to be rebuilt anyway. Step in another phase of the govt infrastructure renewal. Likewise step in the govt to cut the load on the grid by encouraging us to put more solar panels on every roof, and batteries in our houses, from which we can recharge our BEVs and etc.

      There are eco problems with batteries, but these can and will be solved. A big part of the battery issue will be taken care of when the batteries become truly long-life. I think that’s Toyota’s ace in the hole for BEVs, at least from what I have read.

      • Anthony A. says:

        “The grid needs to be rebuilt anyway. Step in another phase of the govt infrastructure renewal. Likewise step in the govt to cut the load on the grid by encouraging us to put more solar panels on every roof, and batteries in our houses, from which we can recharge our BEVs and etc.”

        What’s with all this govt stuff? We are not in Russia or China.

  26. Clete says:

    Question for Wolf or anyone else knowledgeable about the auto biz: Are we just skipping right past hybrids? For our use (we don’t drive a lot, but usually long distances, which is by no means universal), a pure electric doesn’t have enough range without *massive* upgrades to the charging situation.

    I’ve already planned to replace my ICE with hybrid if possible, but not if they stop making them.

    • beetle2030 says:

      Ice is not going to disappear probably for decades, just as BEVs won’t become universal in just a few years. And the hybrid makers have top get their investment money back, and that takes a while.So in that sense it’s safe to buy hybrid.

      It’s my understanding that hybrids are more suited to smaller cars (which you might not want to drive for longer trips) and are relatively more efficient for city than for hiway driving. In that case, pencil and paper might show if the extra cost of the hybrid vs ICE pays out for long distance driving.

      OTOH hybrid is fashionable now, and the hybrid version of a model might have better resale value.

      If you keep a car “forever”, and resale is not an issue, remember that the batteries used today may need replacement before you would ideally prefer. A friend had to replace the battery pack on his Chevy Volt, cost of $8000 for a refurbished pack. That wiped out any gas savings he might have had, plus the resale on such a vehicle is terrible.

      I think BEVs will push hybrids out of the market, as batteries and charging times improve (in maybe 5-10 years). Hybrids also have built-in extra expense and inefficiency, because there are essentially two drive systems, and really one would prefer to have just one to do the job.

      • char says:

        Classic ICE with a engine and transmission to the wheels is death. No new models will be developed. In 10, 15 years if you buy a ICE you will buy a generator powered electric car and because it will also have a big battery it will be a plugin so you don’t need to burn gas to drive to the local derelict mall.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Hybrids are now everywhere. You might not be able to recognize them. It’s just another power train option. Even the new F-150 offers a hybrid power train. Nearly all Toyota models are available with hybrid power trains. Most automakers are making them available on many of their models. Hybrids work really well. Automakers have nailed that technology. Next time you rent a car, make sure you get a hybrid (something like Ford Fusion hybrids are common in rental fleets) and try it out. They’re sweet and very efficient in stop-and-go city driving.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        I love my Toyota Rav4 Hybrid! I feel it will be several years before the ‘system/infrastructure’ will stabilize enough to induce me to upgrade(?) to an EV.

      • Fat Chewer. says:

        Wolf, am I right in saying that you need only replace the battery and not the whole car? If so, that means you can keep your car for as long as the body holds up and pay $8000 to replace the battery every so often? Seems like a decent trade off it the battery lifespan is as long as the average lifespan of an internal combustion engine which is currently 200,000 miles or 10 years.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes, correct. A whole industry will build up around this once there are enough old EVs on the road. Maybe the engine and transmission repair shops will see a second future in it and can make the shift.

    • Prof. Emeritus says:

      Toyota didn’t skip hybrids, they are right in the middle of it applying the Prius philosophy to all their cars, it’s just that nobody really dares or wants to compete against them. The important thing is that there are many types of hybrids on the market ranging from 48V (small battery, small voltage) things that are just an upgraded starter motor to hyper-luxurious plug-in hybrids that manufacturers create for various reasons (dodging CO2 fines, green car incentives, geofencing in city centers, etc.).

      • Javert, Chip says:

        I ‘d sooner chew my arm off than own/drive a Prius (full disclosure: I drive an M8).

        Cars sell for complex reasons having little to do with “cost”, or we’d all be driving an intensely mediocre Yaris (from $17,500), or some other steaming pile of cheapness.

    • char says:

      Hybrids is what Toyota & Honda make. There is no future in that. But EU & china regulations whips car makers into making plugins with a real, normal commuter, battery range. And selling EU & China developed tech in other markets is to be exp ected.

  27. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Ford : $8.5 (price) x 4.1B (common o/s shares) = $35B.
    2) $150 CapEx in 5Y, and $86B on EV please the climate change. Buy instead x4 Fords co today.
    3) The red bar in new vehicle sales will rise >15M, because 2020 is not over.
    4) Fred : new vehicle sales in Apr 2020 plunged to 9 millions units.
    That’s Dec 1981 level, 40 years ago.
    5) The FANG are vertical in 2020, but new vehicle sales are lower high.
    6) To invest $150B while SPX have a change of character.
    7) Nov 9, PFE vaccine con day, that fooled the experts as well as the dumb, was an upthrust above Sept 2 buying climax. Surefire trades
    since Mar 2020 failed on Nov 9.
    8) After four days of rising SPX on lower volume, at much lower speed, SPX closed < Sept 2 BCLX.
    9) Spend $150B today on climate change, or buy X4 [Ford & GM] tomorrow.

  28. Tom Pfotzer says:

    For those of you wondering “where’s all that electric power we’ll need going to come from?”, I’ve collected a few bits of data for your enjoyment.

    Current U.S. electricity generation capacity, assuming equipment is run 24/7 at “full throttle”: 26.4 billion kilowatt hours per day.

    Current U.S. electricity actual generation per day: 10.1 billion kilowatt hours

    Capacity utilization is about 41%, assuming one could actually run all that plant at full throttle 24/7.

    Daily motor fuel consumption – diesel and gasoline, expressed as kWH – in the U.S. is about 19 billion kilowatt hours.

    So, if we switched from ICE to EV, we’d have to switch from using approx 12 million barrels of fuel a day (19 billion kWH) from petroleum (stored energy) and we’d have to get that addn’l 19billion kwH per day from our electricity generation plant.

    19 Billion kWh per day is about 70% of our installed electricity generation capacity.

    If our existing capacity is running at 40%, and we added 70% of that capacity as new demand, we’d have to run the existing installed gen cpy at 110% of rated cpy.

    Or, we’d increase the cpy by 20-30% over the next few decades (solar panels, et. al) or we’d reduce industrial (biggest user) or residential (2nd biggest user) consumption of power in order to free up capacity for the transport business.

    Or we don’t do as much transporting. Work from home is already putting a big dent in fuel consumption.

    Another point to consider: EVs make much better use of their energy than ICEs do; they’re more efficient. So, the amount of energy use per mile driven would likely fall under the EV regime.

    Energy supply numbers for EVs are looking pretty OK to me @ this time.

    Makes you wonder just how much transmission infrastructure work needs to be done. That generation capacity is fairly uniformly distributed across the country. The transmission lines are already built to accomodate “peak load”…wonder how much different “peak load” is from “peak capacity”.

    Source for generation and gen capacity is EIA. Source for gas and diesel consumption is statistica.

    • Tom Pfotzer says:

      Hopefully someone will check my numbers, and point out errors. This is a quick-n-dirty rendition, and it’d be very useful for us to have well-vetted data to work with.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Please read my comment about utilities and investment further up (in reply to Anthony A.). It explains part of the issues you address.

      There are at least two things you’re not considering:

      1. Most of the idle capacity occurs at night, and that can be filled by EVs being charged at home. This demand does not require any investment by utilities. For them, it’s just extra cash flow and profit. So you cannot carry your figure of the grid running at 40% of capacity forward. That number should rise substantially due to people charging their EVs at home at night, using up idle capacity. So this throws off your math.

      2. Time – as in decades: there are something like 270 million ICE vehicles running around in the US, and they will continue to be there. And new ICE vehicles will continue to be sold. EVs are becoming an option. And people will switch to EVs, but gradually, not all at once.

      So, assume that in 2021, EV sales in the US will reach 1 million, and then they grow by 1 million each year. This means that in 2030, 10 million EVs will be sold and maybe 7 million ICE vehicles. Meaning that there will be 55 million EVs on the road (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10 = 55), so that’s 20% of the 270-million total vehicle fleet. And maybe in another 10 years, 50% of the 270 million vehicles will be EVs.

      You see, the process of actually replacing just half of the 270 million ICE vehicles with EVs may take two decades. That is a huge long-time horizon for investment purposes. In other words, demand for electricity will first stop falling (2020 will likely be another down year for electric utilities), and then it will rise very slowly, and there is a lot of time to invest to meet that new demand.

      • Tom Pfotzer says:


        Yes to all your points.

        The main thrust of my presentation is that “we can get there; power gen isn’t going to be too tough an obstacle to EV implementation”.

        Until I ran the numbers, I was thinking we’d have to add a lot more gen capacity to do EVs. Doesn’t seem like it.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        EVs are a very big plus for those that live in cities and suburbs. Not so much the more rural you go. But cities are where more and more of the voters live. The rest is left as an exercise to the reader.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          True, if I spent my life towing a 4-horse-trailer across the Rockies and around the country, I wouldn’t get an EV at this point. I’d get a dually with a turbodiesel and dual fuel tanks. That’s why we have lots of choices. There is something for everyone.

      • Anthony A. says:

        Add the increase in vehicles on the road in 10 to 15 years. It won’t stay static at 270 million but will increase as our population grows. Not a big deal in the whole scheme of things though.

        But yes, BEV’s will be gaining a larger % of the aggregate number of cars on the roads over time.

      • richard hodge says:

        Wolf – the need for daytime enroute charging would increase massively if EVs became ubiquitous, so I don’t think it’s valid to assume the charging would just neatly all happen at night if EV ownership expanded massively. As Lisa points out, home charging installation can be v. expensive, and trailing cables across walkways in the city is a non-starter. The people I know with EVs all plug in at work and charge off the company’s dime, and home installation cost is a big reason. They use a trickle charger at home.

        • Javert, Chip says:

          Richard hodge

          We keep bumping into the same three things without being the least bit analytical about them:

          1) What % of the private EV fleet will be driven ON A DAILY BASIS more than 400 miles/day (presumed threshold for forced recharging)? My guess: <5%.

          2) How many days/year will will the other 95% of EVs be driven more than 400 miles/day (eg: vacation, special events)? My guess the average is around 5-10 days/year.

          3) Investment payback for in-garage recharging station. Google says:

          a) Cost of in-garage charging station range is $1,200-4,500, with an average of $850-2,200
          b) Average ICE gasoline = $1,000/year; average EV electricity = $400/year;
          c) Given average installation cost of $2,200 and an average gasoline-to-electricity saving of $600/year, your investment pays off in 3.7 years WHICH IS ROUGHLY 20% ROI.

          Realistically Richard, how many other investments do you have returning mort than 20%/year?

        • char says:

          Commuter, large batteries, software, gps & a MVNO but than for electricity so a Electric Virtual Network Operator

          have a 500 miles battery
          officially let the EVNO charge it to 300 max
          Use trickle charging at home to fill the battery to 500 in the weekend but virtual still claim 280 because officially your car only gets electricity from the electric network at work
          drive to work, 20 miles so only 260 remaining
          recharge during the day virtual to 300 (reality 480)
          plugin at home but virtual no recharge (in reality also no recharge because power line to the nuke plant went done and wholesale prices are high virtual 280 (reality 460)
          You don’t pay the electricity used by the car at home but the EVNO does that and you (or your boss) pay the EVNO

          I think that Tesla is planning to do this.

  29. RollingStone says:

    I have no doubt software and all the services around the car will be the differentiating factor. The great thing with investing heavily in software (Tesla) is that you can really flex your brand and offer depending on context and market conditions. Hardware is just software that’s hard to edit. I suspect that’s a big part of Tesla’s appeal.

    • KGC says:

      I see a huge opportunity for custom software for automobiles. Hackers and code writers are going to have a lifetime of work “customizing” cars. Revenge of the nerds writ large.

      • RollingStone says:

        Oh yeah. The nerds (tech guys) won big quite some time ago. Most of them are wealthy enough to buy entire towns or even small countries.

      • Anthony A. says:

        I can see it now: MY EV in the driveway is hacked buy a 12 year old and started automatically then auto driven driven to his house for his father to change the VIN and keep the car. LOL

        • polecat says:

          Or, you’ve just been charged with a convenient ‘pre-crime’, causing your precious EV to shut down .. as you await the ‘authorized’ spinal clamp rushing to be applied!

          Spiders not included – This Time!

  30. buddhahacker says:

    Can’t wait until the environmentalist start jumping up and down about the horrible environmental impact caused by building and dismantling EV batteries.

    The increased demand for power plants will be massive once we move away from cars with internal combustion power and since most EV owners will be charging at night solar won’t be the answer (not that it will ever be). It’s called unintended consequences.

    • RollingStone says:

      You will notice a glaring lack of reporting on lithium mines and what they do to the environment. Without a doubt nature will be heavily damaged in search for more and more battery raw material. Very little reporting on this negative aspect (for now). It’s all about ‘zero emissions’. There are of course massive emissions related to EV’s, just not local to the car.

      • Anthony A. says:

        …….And environmental damage (mining). But that’s OK since it all happens outside the U.S.

    • Wisoot says:

      Advances in small modular reactor technology developments
      Sept 2020 Report by International Atomic Energy Agency

      That is if the lock down fails to force the oil producers to release the patents for free energy generators.

  31. sammy iyer says:

    In India cheapest 900cc Suzuki Alto hatchback is $4800-5000. Hyundai Santro 1100cc hatch back is $7500. Average budget sedan is $9000-10k$(Suzuki 50% of all market share ,Hyundai 25% -rest all others fight for the remaining 25%) . ford, gm almost non existant. they have sold their factories to chinese co’s ) latest hot selling KIA compact SUV seltos (1500cc) costs $17000. Mass transport is 2 wheeler geared motorcycle or auto gear scooter 110cc costs only $1100 on the road.2 million 2 wheelers are sold every month(combined motorcycle+ automatic scooters ). I drive my yamaha alpha scooter while driving alone (gives 40km per litre- 1 litre petrol is $1.25 )& use 4 wheeler only when going with family.
    Honda ,Suzuki,yamaha are top 3 two wheeler co’s in sales. EV is a non starter here as puny compact EV costs as much full body petrol/disel Kia SUV. In that sense china selling budget Ev”s around 5500-7000 $ is remarkable. Till EV costs less than ICE , no one will buy EV’s here. hot selling Ev’s here are ELECTRIC TUK TUK !

    • Anthony A. says:

      Yep, Sammy, it’s all about pricing. That’s what’s keeping us PEEDONS (thanks VNV) from buying a Tesla.

  32. Very good article about EV batteries and some of the caveats that consumers should be aware of: Range, charging time/voltage of station, home wiring modifications for safe charging, chemical elements contained within, life span, recycling, replacement warranties, cost per Kw/hr etc. etc.

  33. Martha Careful says:

    If only the vaccine business was as simple as the EVS market!

    A study from 2019 estimated that 25% of vaccines are degraded by the time they arrive at their destination. If a vaccine is exposed to temperatures outside its range, and this gets noticed, then the vaccines are always thrown away. Rarely, a temperature mistake is missed and one of these vaccines is administered. Research shows that these vaccines won’t cause any adverse effects, but could offer decreased protection and might require a patient to be revaccinated.

    It is also expected that only certain airports certified for handling pharmaceuticals will be able to accept such valuable, perishable cargo, so bottlenecks may occur there. And finally, it’s possible that with the airline companies reeling from the pandemic, there might not be enough active planes to meet the demand for shipping these vaccines.

    The SVB Leerink analysts hypothesize that Pfizer’s frozen vaccine, which would be viable for only 24 hours at room temperature, would require “intensive one-day vaccination events at such sites … (that would) cover a fraction of the healthy population;” Pfizer disputes that its low-temperature requirement could be a limitation of vaccine delivery.

    (Ironically, one of the constraints of conventional flu vaccine delivery is that subzero conditions destroy the vaccine’s efficacy.)

  34. Dano says:

    A few years ago the wife wanted to upgrade to an expensive import as her ride was showing signs of future failure. When it finally did go, we (I) upgraded her to a used 2005 (from her 2004!).

    I literally made zero sense to spend the money for something new given our lifestyles and the use that the vehicle would get. Plus her idea of what she wanted would have never practically worked for compared to what she actually uses a car for regularly.

    If, by the time her current vehicle dies, (and I would expect that to be maybe 15 years out), they have a “self driving Subaru wagon” we’ll step up to one of those.

    By the time I need to replace my own wheels in 12-15 years, I’ll just share hers.

    Technology is changing quickly. As the saying goes, “software is eating the world”. These vehicles will just keep getting better snd better. And that’s s good thing!

    OTOH, they’ll have to pry my ICE motorcycles from my cold, dead fingers…

    • Sam says:

      Cue “Born to be wild”

      ICE racing adage:
      Gasoline ⛽ is for basic transportation.
      Diesel is for fueling trucks & turbine pwr. aircraft.
      Alcohol is for drinks.. Water for ice.
      Fuel [re Nitromethane] is for racing


    • ft says:

      Look up Zero Motorcycles.

  35. IronForge says:

    Mister Richter,

    In the the HFCV Space, TM aren’t the only Players, HMC are involved as well.

    TMC and others were(and still are) going to Showcase their “H2_City” and 3rdGen HFCVs at the Olympics; and recently Licenced their HFC Tech to CHN AutoMakers.

    TM may be investing more into BEVs; but HMC was prudent in Offering their Clarity in HFCV/PHEV/BEV Versions.

    “Genius” way to Roll Out HFC+BEV Models, I must say – Mod the Specific_Drive_Version Output based on Rolling Sales Data. Prudent Indeed.

    I’m surprised that VOW are planning to spend €€€ on BEVs alone; but I may be jumping to conclusions – there are good chances HFCVs are included, since they’re still EVs. BMW and DAI are vested into HFCVs.

    With NordStream2 coming online, there will be plenty of NatGas to Steam into H2.

    VOW are simply being prudent and ahead of the Pending Zero Emmision Mandates across the Globe.

    2026-2035CE are the Global Petrol-to-Zero Emmision Automotive Inflection Years.

  36. Give some credit for the EV to climate change? Wolf segwayed carefully from EV to autonmous, and what is the point of owning a 50K Caddy if you can’t drive the thing? An expensive butt massage. In 1900 horse futures were ripping but the equine transport system had two flaws, pollution and safety. There were some farsighted people who saw beyond the ICE, to the electric horse. Never panned out, the horse could always find his way home. Now I see NatGas is getting the same treatment as Diesel. Clean just not clean enough, and all the power needed to power those EVs will come from renewables? One drop of oil equals a hundred solar panels (only if you can financialize the incentives) Ultimately renewables do not provide the wattage to run a bunch of electric motors, so the EV is probably toast, and the LED powered car will replace it. Musk has COVID? Not very smart.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Hydrocarbon fuels will be history. The World’s unobtainium reactors will be fueled with hopepium.

    • Ambrose, we need to understand as consumers/drivers what the Total Carbon Footprint of the EV industry actually is without the Save the Polar Bear Crowd clouding reality. Cost to the environment to build all of the new powerplants, what fuels will be used to power them, same for all of the new charging stations. What does a driver do outside of his or her house or office waiting for the vehicle to charge, typically an hour with higher power chargers??

      What is the EV battery industry’s impact on the environment. Pretty sure the cases are made of good old petrochemical plastics and there are plenty of inorganic compounds used inside the EV batteries. Anyway, most are looking at only the ride and not the process to get the EV vehicle out of the factory and down the road.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        David W. Young,

        Then make sure to SUBTRACT all the stuff we no longer need to manufacture, maintain, and refuel ICE vehicles, including all the manufacturing and transportation of ICE components, such as highly complex motors and 10-speed transmissions, and fuel systems, and emission control systems, and exhaust systems, and cooling systems, and then subtract crude oil production, pipelines, refineries, distribution hubs, oil storage, gas stations, etc., all of which contaminate air and soil on a constant basis, and then subtract the manufacturing, refueling, and maintenance of tanker trucks that deliver fuel to the gas station, etc. etc. There are millions of things you need to subtract from your equation. Otherwise it’s just silly talk.

        • To think that the ICE engine will disappear in our lifetimes, at the beginning of an unprecedented Global Depression, when the total cost to operate per mile including acquisition cost WILL DETERMINE WHAT PEOPLE, OF FREE CHOICE DRIVE, IS THE REAL SILLY TALK.

          When Hertz, Avis, et. al. have hundreds of thousands of used vehicles sitting on lots, American consumers will be able to pick up a very nice ICE ride for what little money they have left in the years ahead.

          At 71, having worked in manufacturing for Burroughs & Rockwell International (Space Shuttle), I don’t tend to say silly things. To dream of an oil free world in this century, even in the U.S., is like chasing after unicorns.

          Wolf, just because I don’t agree with your outlook for an industry, does not make my comments “silly” or “deplorable”. The one silly thing I did say was that the batteries contain acid, which of course the current designs do not.

          All of these Green ideas are great and will be adopted as they are economically feasible. A Depression is not an environment for very costly expansion of a transportation mode yet to be proven on a scale that would replace current modes.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I said, “There are millions of things you need to subtract from your equation. Otherwise it’s just silly talk.”

          You just added the stuff for EVs that will be produced, but didn’t subtract the stuff for ICE vehicles that will not be produced because of those EVs. Every EV replaces an ICE vehicle. So the other half of your equation (ICE not on the road for each EV on the road) was totally missing.

      • Mira says:

        None of this is easy ..
        1. OIL has a kind of glow to it, a prestige, machismo, and an elaborate history, who, in the upper echelons of the elite will want to stop that lifestyle ??
        2. 1 traveller driving around in a 4 seater auto is ridiculous .. cubes on wheels are the reality .. but hey .. what a comedown to ones image.
        3. The auto makers are not responsible for the world, how well it runs, how long it lasts or weather it lasts at all .. they just make the cars !!
        & may the best man win.

        • Mira says:

          We the people have an unrealistic expectation that “our leading figures “swaddled in wealth & power” have some insight, power & duty of care beyond those of mortal man .. alas .. though they present as giants they are not.

      • The SPBC is trying to end NatGas as well. The EV is an ozone polluter, and you still have to burn something at the other end to make the juice. We dream of an untethered source of energy when the real working solution is more urbanization. Cities could run EVs on trolly wires if need be. At the present Covid trend our cities will die off, then the energy equation is thrown back on old rural solutions. Waiting for a story on a rancher herding cattle in an electric pickup.

    • Anthony A. says:

      Musk is a visionary and really tough guy.

      Hey, he works nights in the assembly plant in Ca solving all the problems his engineers can’t solve. COVID? He will just chew it up and spit it out and then Tweet his success. Stock will go up in the morning!

  37. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Somebody old, Buy & Hold, never accumulated GM or Ford.
    2) What guaranteed car mfgs have that EV demand will grow in the next 5 years, like in China.
    3) Somebody old B&H drew four BLM’s on the weekly chart of AAPL, since Aug 24 2020.
    4) Fri close was higher than Oct 12 close on lower RSI, half the size of AAPL package on the same volume.
    5) If those two wily guys, between 90 – 100, who never owned GM & Ford,
    cannot swallow apples, how wrong are WV, GM & Ford.
    6) Ilan probably sold them tickets to Mars.

  38. Saylor says:

    I see energy as a boutique fulfillment in the future. As a result, for a long time forward, bulldozers and such will still be ICE equipped.
    Regarding ‘charging stations’…, you do not need the traditional ‘stations’ that require buried fuel storage. Any parking garage, parking space will be able to offer charging. Wolf is right. The utilities will rush to provide this. Out on the road supply can easily be joined to existing fossil fuel stations. There is also the ability to provide at least some solar charging support in many areas of the country. “…the times they are-a changin'”

  39. Trailer Trash says:

    It’s interesting to read all the happy talk about possible future sales of any kind of vehicle as we slide into the Greatest Depression. Of course no one wants to think about it; it’s just too upsetting.

    Neither Team Red nor Team Blue have the faintest idea how to stop either the virus or the depression. They seem to think that clicking one’s heels three times while chanting “There’s no place like home” will do the job. If only!

    • Anthony A. says:

      TT, we have to remember that the “teams” are all about THEMSELVES! If things get tough down “below”…..they will just fire up the printing presses and drop a few Trill here and there. All is good….again.

    • Mira says:

      I assumed that their sole collective thought & ambition was the sound of the cash register kaching-ing for all its worth ??

  40. DanS86 says:

    Someone should work on a nuclear power source for personal vehicles. Probably an easier problem to solve than charging a battery very fast with 400 mile range.

  41. Micheal Engel says:

    AAPL EV self driving car is the cause of Tim Cook and WB divorce..

  42. Robert says:

    How long does it take to ‘fill up’ an EV with electricity? Say for a Tesla.

    I would assume a hydrogen based fuel system would be similar to gasoline, with a much quicker fill.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You need 5 seconds to plug it in at home in your garage, and then let it do its thing while you’re at home. And then in the morning, another 5 seconds to unplug it.

      • Robert says:

        Yes, but what if you run out of charge on the road? Way too much forethought from my perspective.

        Life is not perfect.

        Hydrogen sounds much more practical.

        • Javert, Chip says:


          What happens if you run out of hydrogen in, say, Montana?

          Normal storage of liquid hydrogen is -252C and 5,000-10,000 PSI. And, oh by the way, the stuff is as explosive as hell.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I dealt with hydrogen fuel cells in 2000, and that was very interesting. United Tech already had an experimental bus running around, powered by its fuel cell. Everyone was going to have fuel cell vehicles (Ballad) and fuel cell power generators at home (PLUG).

          Fuel cells work great. They’ve been around for something like 150 years. The Space Shuttle had them, and the Apollo capsules had them. The problem is H. It’s a bitch in a lot of ways — and energy-intensive to separate from the other atoms that it is attached to. The problems with H are what’s getting in the way of fuel cell vehicles, not the fuel cells themselves.

          I would love to see fuel cell vehicles. But so far the problems with H have not been solved in a cost-efficient manner, and for cars, costs is what matters.

  43. w.c.l. says:

    1. How much does cold weather affect battery performance? Especially if you have to run the heater/defroster a lot on top of it, or as down here you have to run the A/C a bunch to survive the summer months. Are these serious battery drains?
    2. If you forget to charge up and “run out of gas” (electrically speaking) will tow trucks or somebody be equipped with some sort of on-board charging station where they can come out and charge up your batteries enough to get you back home? Just wondering. Great article just the same.

    • Robert says:

      “If you forget to charge up and “run out of gas” (electrically speaking) will tow trucks or somebody be equipped with some sort of on-board charging station where they can come out and charge up your batteries enough to get you back home? ”

      Very good point. If you’ve ever driven cross country you realize that there are many times you are in back ups that last for hours as the cars crawl along. Right now, you’d have electric cars stalling out in droves, with no way to charge up. California is out of its mind to mandate 100% electric. (I’m all for hybrids).

      If you go 100% electric with the current technology then its the end of the American road trip (or long distance driving of any kind).

  44. max says:

    Mr. Wolf say: rare earths go into a battery only once.

    How long does battery last? 5,10 years?
    How about disposal off that battery?
    What is going to happen to price of rare earth if demand get bigger? are those batteries going to be cheaper ?

    • Mark says:

      @max: No rare earths in lithium-based batteries. There is rare earth content in nickel metal-hydride batteries, but nickel batteries are not competitive for cars. Rare earths are used in magnets.

  45. Mira says:

    Does spending more billions mean that VW is more serious & dedicated to EV transport ?

    It could be that GM & others are further advanced than VW ?

  46. Yort says:

    Underground salt caverns are being dug around the world as we speak to hold mega amounts of hydrogen produced via solar panel excess daytime capacity (utilizing hydrogen electolyzers). At night when the solar panels have zero output, the hydrogen becomes the “battery” to produce electricity via hydrogen power plants. Estimates show that underground caverns are 10x less expensive to store hydrogen versus above ground tanks. Germany is one country leading the world on hydrogen underground storage. Point being, electricity is going to be a lot cleaner source of energy at some point because of both EV tech and Hydrogen tech, they both need each other on massive scale. Electric energy conversion rate is much higher for BEV than ICE. The real issue is energy density, which is going to a decade or so to really justify electrifying “everything”…

    For residential, BEV make sense. For commercial jets, not so much (perhaps hydrogen fuel cells someday?). I have multiple machines that use 20-30 gallons of gasoline or diesel per hour, and as such those machines will need high energy density of either ICE or some form of hydrogen engine in the future. Even my smaller 168hp jet ski uses over 20 gallons per hour at top speed, so EV might be difficult for water vehicles due to extreme drag coefficients and weight restrictions, etc…

    Main point is we need all the technologies to succeed together as a team effort. This is not a competition, as the economics of both technology and scale will determine mass demand, not necessarily the most clean or dirty source of energy. ICE versus EV has a lot of grey area, so I get confused when people take one side or the other in tribal instinct fashion. I do think copper, rare earth minerals, and other costs will increase as BEV volumes rise, so ironically that could slow things down if innovation does not continue fast enough. Recycling is not well thought out yet, as there needs to be a core cost like lead acid batteries, and the manufacturer needs to be responsible for reclamation. I’m not worried about lithium ion supply as that will be ancient tech in 10 years, sort of like using steam to run an engine versus future advanced batteries. I would guess the next “TESLA” company to go from $20 per share to $2000 per share in 10 years will be the battery company that makes the next great radical design leap in both density enhancement and cost reduction, and then sells it to all the EV companies globally. Look EVs have been around for over 100 years, yet the battery density and cost constraints have always been the limiting factor, as is the case even today. I am confident our society will solve many battery limitations in 10 years as there will be massive profits for the winning companies. Else we will be forced to change soon enough, whether by choice or not…

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      I’m not worried because the scientists and engineers will figure out something ’cause they always do. As a professional politician I only took the math or science they forced me to. That science stuff makes my head hurt.

      • Sam says:


        Do you recall the quote (The hunt for Red October) where
        Dr. Jeffery Pellet (great casting choice of the late Richard Jordan) conveys, to Jack Ryan, what a politician is/does?

        All The Best & Happy Holidays……

  47. atanoi says:

    The US grid overall will never handle more than about 15% of the total US auto fleet as EVs. Anything above that and those high tension lines will look like the hot little red wires in a toaster oven. Try, and I’ve included a small selection just on big trucks below:

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Nonsense. Read my comments above — in various comments above, I discuss in some detail how the grid, power generation, and the business model of utilities work with EVs. I even included a chart for California (biggest EV market in the US) about electricity sales (still going down!!). There are also some estimates about the time frame.

  48. beetle2030 says:

    the handwriting is on the wall

  49. ThorAss says:

    Lots of talk about batteries which are storage devices, analogy fuel tanks. Not so much about where the energy is coming from to charge the batteries.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Oil comes out of the ground, entailing oil spills and contamination and methane leaks, is then pumped via pipelines or taken by oil train (all using up energy in their pumping stations and engines and producing their own pollution of air and soil) to refineries. There, the crude oil is refined into various products, including gasoline, and this refining process creates of lot of toxic emissions (I used to live across the river from a refinery). Then the gasoline is piped via pipeline to distribution centers, and then taken by tanker-truck to gas station to be put into underground storage tanks. There are fumes and spillages all along the way. The gas stations that have been there for decades sit on highly contaminated soil that destroys the property’s value to the point where these properties become worthless and are abandoned. And then you have to pump this gasoline out of the tank into your car, and that smell is more unburned hydrocarbons being emitted into the air. No one mentions that either about ICE vehicles.

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