Using the sudden dawn of the smartphone era as an example, Y Combinator founder Geoff Ralston opines that the electric car will soon take over the world, reaching a tipping point where everyone will want one. Much like how the iPhone changed everything with its arrival, Geoff believes Tesla's electric cars will equally transform our society.
These predictions are so wrong because they misunderstand the pertinent forcing function. Their assumption is that electric car sales will slowly increase as the technology gets marginally better, and as more and more customers choose to forsake a better product (the gasoline car) for a worse, yet “greener” version. This view of the future is, simply, wrong. The reason electric cars will take over our roads is because consumers will DEMAND them. Electric cars will be better than any alternative, including the loud, inconvenient, gas-powered jalopy. The iPhone demonstrated that smartphones are infinitely better than the feature phones which dominated the world in 2007. The Tesla Model S has demonstrated that a well made, well designed electric car is far superior to anything else on the road. This has changed everything.
Rising demand for electricity to charge vehicles may be a problem, but Tesla's chief technology officer, JB Straubel, argues that with battery costs decreasing, paired with cheap solar panels, will mean an abundant flow of energy.
Whether Tesla will play a key role in slashing the cost of energy storage will remain to be seen. The company certainly believes it will be an important player in influencing not only the grid energy storage market but also the electric car market. Electric car batteries can double as grid energy storage equipment when the cars are parked at home or work and connected to the grid through charging equipment.
“Even with a relatively small fleet of cars today, around 60,00 cars in the world, (Tesla’s cars make up) about 5 gigawatt-hours of energy storage connected to the grid,” Straubel said. “It’s not going to be many years before Tesla will have a million cars, or 70 gigawatt-hours of storage.”
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