Perfect storm of factors speeding electric vehicle development

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Even if you work the auto industry, you probably didn’t expect the current rush to develop, build, sell, and drive electric vehicles. But there’s no denying it. A series of technology developments, market disruptions, and wake-up calls are hastening an inevitable shift from fossil fuel engines to electric power in cars and trucks, according to a post on TechCrunch.

Battery technology is the greatest enabler of the shift to fully electric-powered vehicles. Lower electricity cost means less expensive cars. With range anxiety now a “thing” and a common deterrent to full-electric car purchases, larger capacity batteries are needed for adequate driving range. The cost of lithium-ion battery power has dropped by about 80 percent in the last eight years. One kilowatt of power that cost roughly $1,000 in 2008 is now closer to $200. Continued battery technology advances plus the impending construction of huge new battery factories could bring prices down to $100 per kilowatt in the next few years.

Autonomous vehicle technology is developing hand in hand with the switch to electrification. Auto manufacturers are working fast to develop autonomous capabilities just to stay up with their competitors. Combining hybrid and all-electric power with autopilot and auto-assist features gives manufacturers showcase platforms.

Tesla’s success overall, especially the huge demand demonstrated by the nearly 400,000 Tesla Model 3 reservations, sent a message about the potential for entry-level electric, autonomous cars. Insurance companies and law enforcement cite human error as the causative factor in most accidents (as many as 9 out of 10), which is why car makers and government entities believe that self-driving cars will mean fewer accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

Ride-sharing and ride-hailing shift our assumptions and expectations from car ownership to car availability. When people no longer see the need to own cars, or reduce the number they currently own, their expectation will be for safe, quiet, inexpensive vehicles. All these factors that support electric, autonomous vehicles.

Environmental impact by itself could carry the transition to electric powered vehicles. As the world increasingly shifts to the belief in man-made climate change and takes responsibility for halting further damage to the environment, zero emissions vehicles are an obvious step.

Cheaper battery power, the concomitant shift to self-driving cars, demonstrated market demand, a focus on mobility rather than vehicle ownership, and cleaner energy all add up to electric cars gaining market share faster than anyone expected.

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