This should be a fairly accurate edit of the PDF article I downloaded:
Think Electric Vehicles Are Great Now? Just
Exceptional electrics and hybrids will roll on the line over the next 18 to 36 months. Dan Neil, busy spraypainting
his minivan until that time comes, is eyeing the upcoming Rivian R1T pickup
GO WITH THE GLOW Makers of the Rivian R1T pickup claim it will get 400 miles of range per charge and produce 750 hp.
AT YEAR’S END it seems appropriate to give thanks for the wonders of the automotive world. I
personally am grateful for the advances in canned spray-paint technology, which has allowed
me to keep my 2008 white Honda Odyssey minivan long after I would have otherwise traded it
in. Seriously, rattle-can paint is so good now I can cover about a square yard of exposed sheet
metal and you can’t even see a seam. Although I did get overspray on the dog.
So I’m waiting. Waiting to choose one of the scores of electric vehicle models that I know are
coming down the pipeline in the next 18 to 36 months—the exact timing of my purchase
depends on whether it’s possible to paint the whole van with rattle-cans. In any event, I’m
waiting, because internal-combustion (IC) just doesn’t work for me anymore. In the car market
I am a human headwind.
This is above all a pocketbook issue for me. A gas-powered
vehicle would be too expensive. I plan to keep my next vehicle 10
years, at least. Over that time the cost of ownership for an EV,
including fuel (on the order of a penny a mile for the electricity),
repairs and maintenance would be considerably lower than
comparable costs of an IC car. My other big worry, resale value.
In case you haven’t been following the news from the Paris climate talks, most nations of the world have put the IC
vehicle under a death sentence. Post-Paris, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates
that there will be between 125 and 220 million EVs on the road by 2030.
We are living through the S curve of EV adoption. The total
number of EVs on global roads surpassed 3 million in 2018, a
50% increase over 2016, according to the IEA. In
November Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling small/midsize
luxury sedan in the U.S; and Model S sales (26,700, year to
date) outsold Mercedes-Benz S Class, BMW 6- and 7-Series, and
Audi A8 combined, according to industry-trackergoodcarbadcar.net.
During the reasonable service life of any vehicle I buy today, I expect the demand for ICpowered
vehicles will drop to practically zero, equivalent to the current market penetration of
flip phones. No one will want them and there will be nowhere to get them fixed; by that time
widespread fleet electrification will have cratered traditional dealerships that depend on
service dollars to survive.
I’m not missing anything staying out of the car market. The twilight of the IC engine is pretty
awful, actually. All the technical gymnastics to reduce consumption and emissions from IC
engines—stop-start, cylinder deactivation, CVT transmissions, high-strung turbos hooked up
to small displacement motors—it all feels junky and compromising.
The greatest offenders are also the most complex, like Volvo’s T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain,
with electric motors, CVT, batteries, power inverter and a supercharged/turbocharged 2.0-liter
engine thrashing away at one another, all so it can eke out a few miles of EV range. The steady
improvement in lithium-ion batteries’ energy and power-density over cost will render the
latest plug-in hybrids comically superfluous in a matter of years.
Internal combustion isn’t going to get any better. Last year the chief financial officer for
Continental, the Tier 1 global automotive supplier, lit up the chat rooms with his prediction that
IC development at the German carmakers will effectively end by 2023.
Meanwhile, EVs just keep evolving. The Tesla Model 3 is
amaze-balls, crazy good. But I’ve got hauling and choring to do, so
I’m going to wait and kick the tires on the Rivian R1T pickup,
due in about two years. Rivian, with offices in California and
Michigan, last year acquired the former Mitsubishi plant in
Normal, Ill., to build what it calls “electric adventure vehicles.” Its
makers claim the R1T will have 400-plus miles of range. Its four
electric motors inboard of the four wheels will together produce 750 hp and 14,000 Newtonmeters
of torque at the wheel.
Here a yoking of unlikely attributes: The R1T will accelerate to 60 mph in 3 seconds and have a
wading depth of 3 feet. In it you could jump over the woods and through the river to
The steady improvement in lithium-ion battery energy will render the latest plug-in
hybrids comically superfluous.’
Don’t agree? Fine, fine. You go ahead and finance that $70,000
pickup with V8 power for 60 months. It’ll be a two-ton albatross
around your financial neck before it’s over. Gasoline could be free
and you would still hate it. Better cars are just around the corner.
Me and my rattle-cans will hold off awhile.