If we want to avert climate catastrophe (which seems advisable), we have to do several things in different realms of society. In the world of transport, one of the things we need to do is electrify all the cars on the road super quickly. Electric vehicle sales are growing fast, but not fast enough. So, how do we do this?
To get started, I think it’s critical to take a look at a timeframe of 10 years or so. What can be done right now to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in 2021 is perhaps not as useful as what can be done this year to accelerate adoption in 2029. Not following? Keep reading.
1. Get more lithium, nickel, and graphite mines going.
We need Meghan Trainor to record a remix that goes, “It’s all about them batteries, ’bout them batteries, ’bout them batteries.” Elon Musk has been saying it since Battery Day, or actually much earlier. Howard Klein and Rodney Hooper have been saying it to me in every way possible for the past year. Caspar Rawles and Benchmark Mineral Intelligence say it. Logan Goldie-Scot and BloombergNEF say it. Josh Goldman and KoBold say it. The point is that we need more battery production and for that we need more battery minerals to be extracted and processed — stat.
2. Install more charging stations at or near multi-unit dwellings (MUDs).
It takes zero minutes to charge an electric car the vast majority of the time. If you have home charging. If you don’t, then the story gets quite different fast. If you are lucky, like I was for nearly 3 years, you’ve got an abundance of public chargers in the area (maybe even free ones!) and a lifestyle that allows for easy charging at those locations. If you are not, well, you need home charging! Charging stations should be commonplace at multi-unit dwellings as soon as possible. Many more people could conveniently go electric if they had charging stations — or even just accessible outlets — in their communities. And, yes, we do have a full webinar on this and related topics coming tomorrow.
3. Install more charging stations at grocery stores, restaurants, and Big Box stores.
Okay, say that your MUD community just isn’t getting onboard with rEVolution, and you also don’t have a cool employer who has put up charging posts. If that’s the case, then there are really 3 core types of places where charging infrastructure is most helpful, or maybe two. While it’s great to have chargers put in anywhere, what people really need if they don’t have home or workplace charging is chargers in places they routinely visit — at least twice a week. That limits the most helpful spots quickly. In general, that would be grocery stores and “Big Box stores” like Targets and Walmarts. For some people, that may also include restaurants or coffee shops. Other than those, identifying places where a lot of people go multiple times a week for a decent portion of time gets more challenging. Gyms, perhaps parks, malls … ?
4. Explain to people the lower costs of operation.
Electric cars are getting more and more cost competitive, but they still suffer from a case of “judging a book by its cover price.” They tend to have higher upfront costs compared to other vehicles in their class/size, but they also tend to have lower operating costs that lead to lower overall cost of ownership. Most people don’t know this. As they learn it, they may become more open to or interested in going electric.
5. Explain the tremendous convenience of home charging. Over and over and over again.
The top two questions people without EVs ask an EV owner are: How long does it take to charge? How far can it go (on a full charge)? Regarding the former, I think the best answer is often “I don’t know” or “just a few seconds.” I’ve been using the former for a long time, because I honestly didn’t track how long we spent charging — we just plugged in at the store and unplugged when we left. However, I may shift to the latter because it’s a bit more fun and intriguing.
6. Get more battery factories built stat.
Are you noticing an obsession yet? Aside from battery mineral mining and processing (very important stuff), we also need more battery cell producers and automakers to set up battery production plants.
7. Make automakers try — like, really try.
This is a big one. This is last, but definitely not least. One problem is that it is difficult and perhaps even deadly for a major automaker to transition to EVs quickly. Look at the case of Bord, for example. For years (or decades even), they have used various delay tactics when it comes to electrifying their cars, trucks, and SUVs. In the past, that ranged from “it’s impossible” to “consumers don’t want EVs” to “EVs will bankrupt us.” In the coming years, I think there will be an especially common one. Can you guess it? “We don’t have the batteries. There aren’t enough battery mineral mines.” In any case, no matter the excuse, there is a solution: pull out the stick.
The market share of electric vehicles in Europe jumped from about 2% to about 10% in the past year. Why? Because the EU made them do so or pay big fines. Did automakers find there were no buyers for EVs? No, they found that if they produced and tried to sell EVs, buyers would buy them. The same thing happened to a more limited degree in China earlier, but expect more in the coming years. China likes to be #1 in hot new technologies and market segments.
Who should be advancing the industry in all of these ways? I left that vague above because many different players can, from governments to businesses to activists to common people just doing their part to educate others.
Any remaining ideas for top ways we can accelerate EV adoption? Drop them in the comments or join our webinar tomorrow, April 21, at 1:00 pm ET/10 am PT.
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- Cleantech Talk
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- Elon Musk