What does the future of electric cars look like?
Including an answer from James May!
A common trend over the last eight years has been the inevitable rise of the electric car. Originally started by the Tesla Roadster back in 2008, many people forget just how long ago it has been since the first proper mass produced EV came about. Well, technically the first ‘electric car’ was released in the 1830s and consisted of a small locomotive that used two electromagnets, a pivot and a battery to run. However, this couldn’t have played fart noises like a Tesla can.
To get a better understanding of what the future of electric cars could be like, who better to ask than motoring journalist, James May. James gave his views on one very simple question, “What do you think the car market will look like in 15 years and which car manufacturers will survive the transition to electric cars?” In response he said, “Which car manufacturers will survive? Well Soichiro Honda once said as everybody knows that, in the future there will only be four car makers, but one of them will be Morgan.”
This is interesting as small British car companies such as Morgan, Caterham and Lotus will need to look into other ways of making cars in order to survive, with electrification being the answer. By the sounds of things, Morgan are already looking at electrifying its cars. However, it is a possibility that smaller car companies will be exempt of the 2035 petrol ban if they produce a small number of cars each year.
James continues: “I think it will be an established maker and it will be the one that cracks the next generation of batteries. Because the thing that’s going to stop electric cars is still, despite what all the evangelists say, and I am one of them, the batteries take too long to charge. My money would be on… the Japanese or the Americans, or the Chinese obviously because they are going to do everything."
So far, the Americans have taken a big leap in terms of electrified car innovation since Tesla entered the game a few years ago and became a more valuable company than Ford for crying out loud. In fact, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla said the Model S “is not exactly a car, it’s actually a thing to maximise enjoyment,” and this sums up what the beginnings of the electric car were all about.
Whether Tesla will continue to make cars or not is unknown. Will they resort to purely being a battery manufacturer and supplier, no one knows? Many people believe that electric cars came about as a short-term solution for a long-term issue. However, now they are here to stay, but are the chargers up to scratch?
The electric car charging network has slowly been getting better but it is still early days. Phill Tromans, Production editor at DriveTribe, said. “It reminds me of years ago when ATMs and bank cards first became a widespread thing and you could only get cash out from ATMs of your own bank and it was an absolute pain in the backside.” However, once all companies communicate together, one will be able to charge a Porsche Taycan using a Tesla supercharger for example and vice versa.
When electric cars become more mainstream, which they will within the next 20 years, it is likely we will see a big change in the way petrol/service stations are set out.
Russell Campbell, Editor at DriveTribe, said his brother works for BP and “they make pretty much no money on fuel, it is all from chocolate and newspapers in the shops”. Saying this, it is clear we will likely see more superchargers at these stations soon. Whether this means getting rid of a row of pumps and swapping them for chargers, no one knows, but it is clear EV car charging will become more widespread and popular within the UK.
It will be very interesting to see what happens with long distance lorries, as 17 days of driving in one uses more fuel than running a low-mileage 1987 Lotus Esprit for 30 odd years. Saying that, last year Tesla announced the ‘Semi’ which will be a fully electric lorry which will have an estimated range of around 500 miles for the top spec and will cost around £150,000. But is this the answer or will the production of the vehicles cancel out the lack of fuel it will use?
The imminent arrival of the 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars set by the Government is only 15 years away which means there is a lot of work to be done between now and then. The UK will need to ensure the National Grid can hold all the extra power as well as provide enough charging stations for everyone with an EV.
With all that in mind, if someone can come up with a car battery which can be charged in under three minutes and have a range of at least 400+ miles then they will become an instant billionaire. But before that we will just have to make do with what we have, which is improving rapidly as we speak. The electric car is the future for now, whether we like or not.
What do you think the future holds for the electric car?
I would like to give a massive thanks to James May, Russell Campbell and Phill Tromans for the help with this article. Not only is it a piece for DriveTribe, but it was also a piece used for my University work which I can confirm did very well. Thank you all!