10 Lessons In History That Tell Us Electric Vehicles Are Here To Stay

EV adoption history lesson

The widespread adoption of electric vehicles in Australia is not without challenges, one of which is overcoming resistance to change. It seems that no matter how credible the case for EV adoption is, there is always a chorus of naysayers in the background trying to undermine the consensus.

This article will turn the narrative away from the usual arguments of logic, which often fall on deaf ears, to a short history lesson showing when it comes to technology advancement, resistance is futile. Electric vehicles are here to stay.

What Is It With These EV Naysayers?

Although these contrarian voices often have implausible arguments, they do have legitimate concerns.

A recent article appearing in The Australian newspaper about the cost of electric vehicles featured some quotes from Finn Peacock, founder of SolarQuotes.

Despite Finn’s balanced commentary about his lived experience with electric vehicles, the comments section at the end of the article was filled with statements such as:

“Made in China to make savings? At other people’s expense. Where will you park that battery?”

“EVs are cheaper if the government tips in cash – When will renewables be really cheapest?”

“And of course, there are all the environmental costs of producing and then recycling the batteries, which are not factored into these costs.”

“No mention of the $20,000 battery you have to install on your home solar system to charge your EV at night. That battery will require replacement every 7-10 years.”

Some of the above readers’ concerns are valid and have been addressed many times. Others are pure nonsense, based on fear, not fact.

Drivers Of Contrarian Beliefs

There are many drivers for contrarian beliefs, particularly when faced with new technology. The list is long, and may not apply to everyone. Here are some:

  • Vested interests
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Cultural and social factors
  • Nostalgia
  • Perceived risks
  • Technological complexity
  • Job insecurity
  • Political influence

Generational Bias

Hey Boomers1, I’m not picking on you for the sake of it. Just stating a fact that’s relevant to the conversation. You can’t deny that the older generation has shown time and time again to be more likely to exhibit skepticism or resistance due to unfamiliarity. Meanwhile, younger generations tend to be more adaptable and open to integrating new tech into their lives. Age may bring experience, but not necessarily insight.

Homer Simpson baby boomer

Why Widespread EV Adoption Is Inevitable

Disruptive Technologies

Disruptive technologies are innovations that significantly revolutionise industries and the way we live. They often start as niche solutions but eventually replace traditional methods and create new opportunities and jobs.

Some examples of disruptive technologies in the past have included the steam engine, electricity, the internal combustion engine, the personal computer, etc. More recently – the internet, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy.

Forward Thinkers

Among the world’s foremost forward thinkers in this area is author and entrepreneur Tony Seba, known for his perspective on the disruptive potential of electric vehicles. He is one among many that believe the convergence of advancements in battery technology, declining costs, and supportive policies will accelerate the inevitable transition from ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles to EVs.

He’s not the only forward thinker with this vision. Other EV advocates that believe EV dominance is a done deal read like the who’s who of the entrepreneur and tech world – Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Saul Griffith, Mary Barra, Bill McKibben, Chris Paine, and Lewis Hamilton, to name a few.

Exponential Rate Of Tech Change

The speed at which disruptive technologies and innovation have taken over in recent years is exponential. A prime example is rooftop solar power in Australia. You can’t help but notice that, unlike 10 years ago, it’s everywhere you look.

This rapid acceleration is a typical pattern that occurs as new disruptive innovations are introduced, leading to increasingly faster and more profound changes. Although not specific to all technologies, this phenomenon is often described by Moore’s Law, which states that the processing power of computers doubles approximately every two years.

Disruptive innovation examples

Some modern day disruptive innovation examples. Image: Alaa Khamis

10 Lessons In History From Disruptive Innovators

We can’t predict the future, but it’s possible to look into the past for a clue as to what might lie ahead. The following are examples from our history books showing disruptive technologies and innovations that have changed society, and the futile attempts at stopping them.

#1 The Printing Press: Scribes vs. the Press

Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press, invented in the 15th century, faced resistance from religious authorities, scribes, and scholars who feared its potential to spread unauthorized ideas. Concerns about heretical texts, the economic impact on artisans, and the need for censorship led to attempts at regulation and book burnings. The printing press eventually succeeded, even though modern digital screens like the one you’re reading are now taking their place.

#2 The Industrial Revolution: Luddites vs. Machinery

The Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries faced resistance, with events like the Luddite protests against mechanization and concerns about poor labor conditions. However, innovations such as steam engines and factory systems drove economic growth. The Industrial Revolution’s technological progress and societal changes ultimately led to improved living standards, and yet, ironically, its legacy includes today’s heightened environmental awareness and concerns about sustainability.

#3 The Telephone: An Electrical Toy!

During the late 19th century, the telephone encountered initial skepticism and opposition. Established communication systems like telegraphy were deeply rooted and considered reliable. Notable events included a lack of interest from Western Union in acquiring Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent in 1876 and a dismissive telegram from the President of Western Union that read, “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”

#4 Electricity: A Hard Sell

Believe it or not, electricity was a hard sell for power companies in the 1920s. They had to convince people that their product was useful! An advert from The New York Tribute read “With electricity, business owners can light a shop and factory in order to prevent accidents, increase output, or help ventilate a room. The direct application of power to a machine increases efficiency, and reduces the amount of heavy, exhausting labor.”

#5 The Automobile: Horse-Drawn Legacy vs. Cars

The introduction of the automobile in the late 19th century also faced huge opposition. Horse-drawn carriage industries feared job losses, safety concerns led to speed limits, and flag-waving regulations. Despite this, innovators such as Karl Benz and Henry Ford improved designs and car manufacturing techniques, and today there are almost 1.5 billion cars on the road worldwide. That’s one for every five people on earth!

#6 Radio And Television: Our Favourite Pastime

Radio pioneers like Guglielmo Marconi, who demonstrated wireless communication in the late 19th century, faced doubters about the practicality and reliability of radio waves for long-distance communication. Similarly, television faced resistance, with a famous quote from Darryl Zanuck, a prominent film producer, claiming that people wouldn’t want to watch television because “people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Wrong!

#7 Personal Computers: Pen And Paper vs. Pixels

Some experts in the 1970s initially questioned the practicality of personal computers. Yet, trailblazers including Steve Jobs and Bill Gates persisted, launching products like the Apple I and Microsoft’s first operating system. As technology advanced and prices dropped, personal computers gained popularity in the 1990s, and today they’ve become an integral part of our daily lives.

#8 Renewable Energy: Skepticism To Mainstream Acceptance

Many working in the solar industry know this one too well. Renewable energy has triumphed as a mainstream energy source despite initial opposition from entities with vested interests and continued reluctance from certain groups clinging to outdated paradigms. Technological strides from the early 2000s onwards enhanced their affordability. Solar and wind power has experienced exponential growth since then. Today there are more than 3.5 million rooftop solar systems installed around Australia.

#9 The Internet: An Over-hyped Phenomenon!

Can you believe this? Media coverage in the 1990s portrayed the Internet as a passing fad or over-hyped phenomenon. Critics questioned whether the average person would embrace the complexities of using the World Wide Web. Many questioned whether a global network of interconnected computers could serve useful purposes beyond academic or military research. They grossly underestimated our insatiable appetite for watching cat and dog videos!

#10 Online Banking: From Banking Cheques To Checking Phones

The rise of online banking initially encountered huge resistance and took a few years to catch on, particularly by the older generation. There were concerns about security breaches, fraud, and the loss of personal touch. Now everyone shudders at the thought of lining up at the bank to cash a cheque.

The Final Nail In The ICE Vehicle’s Coffin

As the examples above have seen, electric vehicle production is at the cusp of a disruptive cycle in the automobile industry. Right now we’re in the early stages of an exponential curve for worldwide EV adoption. Think 2010 for the Australian rooftop solar industry.

The numbers are still low but exponential growth is there already, and about to explode. The International Energy Agency predicts a growth of 35% in 2023.

Global electric car annual sales 2010 to 2023

Annual worldwide EV sales 2010 to 2023. Image: International Energy Agency

Car manufacturers have had their eyeballs all over this for a long time, and have now firmly placed their bets. Tesla is the poster child for the EV revolution and now almost all major brands have followed, announcing all-electric models. Some of the world’s most iconic brands have made commitments to phase out internal combustion engines totally. This is the current state of play:

Car Manufacturer Commitment
Alfa Romeo All electric by 2027.
Alpine (Renault) All electric by 2030.
Audi Final ICE vehicle in 2026.
Bentley All electric by 2030.
Citroen DS All electric by 2024.
Fiat All electric by 2030.
Ford (Europe) All electric by 2030.
General Motors Final ICE vehicle in 2035.
Genesis All electric by 2025.
GWM Haval Cease ICE production by 2030.
Honda Zero emissions by 2040.
Jaguar All electric by 2025.
Lexus All electric by 2035.
Maserati All electric by 2030.

These companies aren’t making pledges because of their commitment to a clean environment, or survival of the planet. They’re doing it because of their commitment to shareholders, and economic survival. They’re in the business of selling cars, not collecting them. This fact alone virtually guarantees that EVs will reach price parity with ICE vehicles very shortly, and leave them for dust.

In addition to the above, many countries have begun phasing out fossil fuel cars, and set deadlines for ending sales of petrol and diesel vehicles. Norway is the leader of the pack with new vehicles, either electric or hydrogen, to be sold from 2025. Britain, Singapore, and Israel are banning sales of new ICE vehicles in 2030.

China is aiming for sales of EVs to account for a majority by 2035. The USA is going one better, planning half of new cars sold in the United States to be zero-emissions in 2030. The European Union, a 27-nation bloc, has set deadlines for ending sales of ICE vehicles by 2035, and within the EU, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Sweden have set higher targets of shifting to zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Silencing The Electric Car Skeptics

History teaches us that every innovation faces its fair share of skepticism. Electric vehicles are no exception. From the printing press to the internet, the naysayers have consistently been proven wrong. My advice to any doubters still meandering out there – embrace the EV revolution or move over – you’re blocking the fast lane.

Footnotes

  1. Not all of you (I’m one too!)
About Kim Wainwright

A solar installer and electrician in a previous life, Kim has been blogging for SolarQuotes since 2022. He enjoys translating complex aspects of the solar industry into content that the layperson can understand and digest. He spends his time reading about renewable energy and sustainability, while simultaneously juggling teaching and performing guitar music around various parts of Australia. Read Kim's full bio.

Comments

  1. Ken Hungerford says

    Of course they are well and truly on the way. I used to have arguments with the naysayers but decided that was simply a waste of my time. a couple of very small errors. Firstly the term is actually disruptive technology as coined by Professor Christensen in 1995. This has been replaced by disruptive innovation to indicate that it is not simply rapid changes in technology that disrupt proven ways to do things. Secondly, it is not Alpha Romeo but Alfa Romeo. The whole topic of disruption is a fascinating one.

    • Kim Wainwright says

      Hi Ken. There’s sometimes a crossover between disruptive technology and disruptive innovation. All disruptive technologies are disruptive innovations, but all disruptive innovations aren’t disruptive technologies. For example, Uber was a disruptive innovation, but not a disruptive technology because the technology already existed. The internal combustion engine was both, because it was a new technology which took over an existing market and became a disruptive innovation. I may have worded it a little clunky in the article sorry. Alfa Romeo changed thanks for the heads up.

  2. I noticed that Toyota is not on the list, as they are not planning to go all electric.

    There are currently limitations for a transition to all electric vehicles:
    Recharging durations
    Battery elements sourcing limitations
    Recharging of street parked vehicles
    Electricity grid capabilities to cope with the power demands
    Large truck battery sizes and weight issues

    I’m sure that many of these issues will eventually be resolved over time, but will need new discoveries of technologies etc.to occur.

  3. There are at least a couple of elephants in the room besides changing time, range , expense and possibly of likely blackouts for us this summer, and recycling.

    1 fire and released toxins. Talk to any fireman thats been informed.
    2 The mining of lithium and the humanitarian aspects ie child labour etc.

    So I expect some of these not so unimportant aspects can be rectified in the shorter to medium term.
    Now if salt batteries get a much needed boost maybe , maybe not the hazardous nature of lithium might be replaced. And where the hell is hydrogen or do all the car manufacturers have to get their dollars back before safety and environmental recycling get a foot up.

    • Hydrogen is an option for heavy vehicles.

      See the JCB new developments video below.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_qAta3Gk8

      This concept may also work for other modified ICE engines.

      Quick fill up times, similar to LPG gas.

      Local Solar PV powered hydrogen generation plants. etc.

    • Stefan Kuiper says

      Cobalt involves child labour. Lithium is predominantly mined in Australia and South America. Also, most EVs are moving to LFP battery chemistry which uses zero cobalt. However cobalt is essential in the refining of crude oil, which the naysays always forget to mention.

  4. Perfect ammunition for those of us with combustion-engine blinkers, thank you !

    When I read the history of EVs, what struck me was that they pre-existed combustion cars by about 50 years, and were considered clearly superior even when combustion engines arrived. What tipped the balance in favour of ICEs was cheap oil, courtesy of John D. Rockefeller.

  5. Erik Christiansen says

    Kim, here’s one Boomer who’s just waiting for a decent EV single-cab ute; load capacity nudging a tonne, and rated to tow more than a lightly laden wheelbarrow. Those dual-cabs are neither fish nor fowl – not realy utes at all.

    Heck, the Cybertruck might be the first decent offering, when it appears here toward the end of the decade. The Radar RD6 can tow 2.5 tonnes, and a 1525 mm long 1200 L tub is almost worth considering, though. The 6 kW of V2L is nifty. The market will mature, and offerings will improve once manufacturers have harvested the low hanging fruit. Range and battery life will improve, along with price. I intend to hurry slowly. Do not mistake the wisdom of patience for indecision.

    While the original Luddites were likely fully rational semi-skilled workers, busting machines in violent defence against looming unemployment-induced starvation, today’s nay-sayers are merely slow learners, I suspect. (Check last week’s Weekly Times for an advertisement praising increasing CO2, saying climate was cosy at 4 times current levels. It does though fail to reveal whether sea levels were 60 or 100 m higher then. 😉

    Incidentally, few will accept a cheque as payment now, and banks are threatening to discontinue the service in a few years. In rural areas it’s increasingly hard to find a bank to cash it in, anyway. I believe it is what is called a “service economy” – ever less real service and ever more chargeable rubber stamp imposts providing no tangible service.

    • Ford is bringing a plug-in hybrid version of its Ranger to Australia in 2024, with a full-electric range of 45km and able to tow 3.5 tonnes. It will have more torque than the petrol or diesel-only models. They researched the pure-EV range carefully, and found the vast majority of Ranger owners didn’t travel more than 40-km per day (same for most drivers), so will be able to have a mostly EV experience while retaining the hybrid for longer trips and towing.

      Hybrids are the ultimate driver’s powertrain, nothing betters them across the entire power band. It’s why F1 cars are hybrids.

      • Much as I have been a devoted petrolhead for over 50 years, your comparison with F1 cars is irrelevant to driving cars on the road. Unless you are a hypercar enthusiast with a Rimac or similar.

        F1 cars, or any purpose built racing cars, have a fundamentally different intent and therefore engineering to road cars. F1 cars and endurance racers have hybrid power for quite different reasons to why we have hybrids like the RAV4 or various other hybrid cars. Just as we don’t have drive road cars with engine idle speeds of 3,500rpm or rev limits of 15-17,000rpm, or extremely wide slicks etc.

        Hybrid designs vary too from versions whose focus is not on a broad band of power but economy or range on electricity alone. Not many hybrids focus on broad power ranges.

        Hybrids are simply a stopgap to full EVs being attractive and useable for the great majority. They also provide a pathway for people who are not yet ready (and some not able) to make the leap into EVs. That will change when we solve the affordability and recharging issues on a broad scale and for the vast majority of users.

        • As an engineer I can promise you that modern hybrids for road cars are not just about saving fuel/money. The drive-by-wire hybrids like Toyota’s have all sorts of sophisticated tricks to flatten that power band, which you can experience directly when driving them. They can access a whole continuum between ICE and EV, and blend them almost at whim, depending on power requirements, just like a F1 car. There would be no point to them if they couldn’t, that’s what saves the fuel as well.

          They’re still too complex in an engineering sense, full-EVs make more sense. But nothing matches a hybrid for continuous power in all conditions.

          • Declan Power says

            Can’t say I agree with you Nick. For example I have done a long trip in a current model RAV4 hybrid and it is a very efficient car, great on fuel and has a good spread of torque. However it not as torquey across as wide a rev range as the Skoda 2.0 petrol turbo I owned or other VW group forced induction vehicles I have driven (including a 1.2L turbo and supercharged Golf and various other modern forced induction vehicles. Or even the excellent torque and power spread from low in the rev range of my 3.6L VR6 naturally aspirated VW group vehicle – flat from under 1800rpm (though good even well below it) up to almost 6,000rpm. Modern petrol engines, particularly forced induction or VVTI type engines have overcome or significantly reduced the limitations of early designs.

            But if you look across the market most hybrids, whilst improving flexibility of torque and power ranges (the former being most important for daily driving, have their largest benefit in terms of economy and use in short runs on electricity alone if that is how they are designed. And that is primarily what the manufacturers sell them as benefiting.

          • Thanks Declan, and no doubt road hybrids are tuned to prioritise efficiency. Sure if you add a turbo you can overcome some of the intrinsic limitations of ICEs, but even at the top end of performance, in a F1 car, they went with hybrid because nothing else would match it for performance. I recently saw the Mercedes engineers asked how they would improve the F1 hybrids if they had free rein, and they said ‘we’d reduce the size of the petrol component even further’. It’s slowing the car down, and that’s *with* a turbo built in as well.

          • Ian Thompson says

            Strange, Nick
            ‘we’d reduce the size of the petrol component even further’. It’s slowing the car down, and that’s *with* a turbo built in as well.

            Formula-E is fully electric, yet is way down on F1 performance in all ways, except perhaps initial launch (until ~100 kph down-force, the F1 is traction limited).

            After all, in an F1 ALL the energy is generated by the ICE – the hybrid aspect of KERS simply provides additional power from that produced from previous braking.

            And I have to save, my 11yo 180 kW ICE car has a very smooth flow of power (shifts are barely perceptible), and while not at the drug money performance levels of the Model S, it responds extremely well – and wirh good economy.

  6. Ian Thompson says

    Interesting that neither BMW nor Mercedes are on the list – although I know both marques are selling EVs, and BMW have done a lot of research on hydrogen vehicles.

  7. Today it is a lovely 30 degree sunny day here on the north coast NSW. I am sitting inside at my computer relaxing in cool environment, with the guilt free aircon set to 24 degrees, having baked sourdough bread this am without a care for heating up my place. Why is that? because my 9kw of solar is still making money for me. And my 4yo house was built with really good insulation and siting.

    I am not some hippie or particularly green type. Yes, I care about the environment but I care even more about saving money. I am a 67yo retiree on a fixed income so I approach this issue from a pragmatic point of view. This is my second house, my retirement place after many years in a colder part of Australia. That house had solar too when it was less common and riotously expensive compared to today. But subsides and some other incentives eg rapidly increasing cost of fossil fuel energy, caused me to take the leap. The first system was paid for in about 4 years or earlier. This one will be not far off that. This month’s bill is expected to be about $70 in credit.
    Both were premium level systems.

    As for an EV, a similar quandry is taking place as fuel costs skyrocket. But now my reduced income creates another factor. Even though I may save money when using it, the upfront cost of a suitable EV for my usage pattern is now well beyond me. If certain things come to pass, that may change, but if they don’t I will be stuck with the ever rising cost of operating an ICE vehicle.

    I have friends who could readily afford an EV but have been affected by the exaggerations, misinformation and some downright lies of detractors. Though it would save them operating costs and suit their usage they won’t yet.

    The previous government undermined investor, industry and consumers’ confidence in EVs and clean energy overall. The current government seems reluctant to introduce fleet fuel and emissions standards which would force manaufacturers to bring affordable EVs here.

  8. Wow, ageist or what?
    EV is a very old technology, it is lithium batteries that have now made them a real possibility. The biggest issue in Australia is that most will be charged by burning coal. When we fix that EV will can City/Town driving. Longer trips will be an issue until we sort the charging issue. Even driving on LPG, I can drive 1200km in 12-14 hours. The simple fix is standard battery fitting in all EVs that can easily be removed and replaced like on a camcorder. Obviously it will be done with something like a fork lift. Swap and Go.for EV.

    Now back to problems with your argument.
    There is much more solar about because of technological improvements. 10 years ago the output was lower, the cost higher and panels didn’t last as long. This left the early adopter with the real possibility that by the time the solar system paid for itself it would need to be replaced. Today a good solar system can pay for itself in 2 years or less. At the moment adding a solar battery faces the same issue, it takes too long to pay for itself, but hopefully this will get better. We have so much solar generation being wasted we need to find a way to store it to use again and not at 4 times the feed in tariff. Communal batteries or mini hydro where the feed in current pumps water uphill during the day and we get cheap hydro at night.

    You list great innovations that faced resistance, as all do, but forget that many more innovations failed. Even electricity, what a disaster if we had gone with Edison and DC, You need to thank the naysayers because not all the problems they bring up are wrong.

    Resistance to new ideas is always present and it never stops the progress of a tech that works. With this in mind you have to stop worrying about Boomers, The youngest boomers are mid 60s to 78 max (any older must not be referred to as boomers). Neither are the target market for new cars, so why bother.

    Car manufacturers are switching as legislation means they have no choice.

    • Armin Lunsmann says

      The youngest boomers are 59. Final year of birth for the boomer generation was 1964.

      That said 😉

      I can’t foresee EV’s dominating our market without fleet fuel standards coming first. EV’s are far too expensive and currently take far too long to pay off their price difference vs their ICE alternative. On average you need to drive around 124,000 km to pay back the difference just on purchase price. The average driver gets around 10,000 km a year.

      I’m 57 years old and on a low income, I would need to win the lotto just to be able to afford a new car regardless of powertrain.

  9. From personal experience based on who I meet at chargers, I would really like to call BS on your Boomers comment. Gets kinda tedious being the brunt of over generalised ageist, unfounded rubbish in the media. I would would love to know if you have any data to back up your ageist comment regarding resistance to change, particularly regarding evs?
    From:
    https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9258-electric-vehicle-intention-soars-june-2023
    “Roy Morgan says intention to buy an electric vehicle has almost doubled across all age groups, and more than tripled for all age groups aged 35 years or older. By far, the fastest age group intending to buy an EV within the next four years is the 65 years and older set, up a whopping 340 per cent.21 June 2023”

    Anyhow, younger people can’t afford an ev, it is mainly over 60 retirees with too much super. Hold on if you still have job you can salary sacrifice with FBT exemption giving you around 5 times the subsidy of others.

    Don’t forget the reason there is no Franklin Dam in Tassy is down to those over 60 today.

  10. Horses for courses. Use what is suited to the application.
    Boomer grey beard pensioner here.
    I have a feeling the dual cab diesel ute will not be replaced by an EV to tow the caravan – for a few years yet.
    However the 13 year old station wagon is definitely a candidate for replacement by an EV for local trips and picking up the grandchildren. Plus I want to soak up the excess solar generation with which I am currently destabilising the grid.
    I wistfully recall the internet, and AARNET in the days of the command line, whois, Altavista, Usenet, nn, ftp, telnet &c…. with less crap but perhaps not as useful.

  11. John Klumpp says

    For myself, it is the “current” state (pun intended) of eMotorcycles, and eMaxiScooters available for sale in Oz, that is very disappointing.
    The range available are either disappointingly slow (many not highway capable), or outright expensive (picture 180% of a Harley Davidson price range i.e. $40,000 or so).
    I’m convinced that I’ll own a eRide-on Mower (42″ cut, conventional steer) much earlier than I’ll own a eMotorcycle or eMaxiScooter.
    Still- bring on the Sodium-Ion or Solid State – Gen 3 – battery tech.

  12. Mick Costello says

    I know it is inevitable, and the for the most part look forward to living in a world with less pollution, and to filling up my car at home from my solar The thing I see as a possible downside is the lack of the old $400 car that you buy when young and go on massive road trips all over Australia, having a ball. If something broke, you could fix it yourself or find someone in just about any small town who could.

    When I was at uni I got my hands on a $400 Ford Falcon station wagon that got me through six years of uni, driving all over Sydney for my work installing blinds, and three road trips to Cairns via Central Queensland.

    As the article mentions, maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I can’t see this as possible with electric vehicles.

    • Electric motors rarely break. So I don’t see this changing, there’ll likely be lots of EVs out there with millions of kms on the dial. And swapping out electric motors will likely not be rocket science even when they do break.

    • My Uni bomb of a car was a Dato 180B (with roof rusted under the vinyl top) that went through similar use to yours, including overloading so the back wheels angled at the bottom like something was about to break.
      Most cars sold today are far more complex than they need to be, so once they are old bombs electric or ICE you will need a computer and OBD reader to work on them and keep them running, and have far more complex sytems to deal with.
      So I guess you concerns are relevant with or with out Evs.
      Far more basic EVs could be produced for a much lower cost. I know mine has far more “Bells and Whistles” (Guess that phrase shows my age) than I want. Some of these are there to achieve safety ratings, others like a sun roof as standard, are items I just dont want.
      Maybe the future will include old EVs being hacked, modified and kept on the road, with a different of skill set to those modifying older cars today.
      If an EV with the same safety features as an old pre airbags Ford was allowed on our roads, they could be well under $10,000 new. Check the price of cheap EVs in China.

      • Declan Power says

        “If an EV with the same safety features as an old pre airbags Ford was allowed on our roads, they could be well under $10,000 new.”

        This is a myth sometimes put around by “old codgers” who seem to think that there were “the good old days when….” or “lots of people want what I THINK I want.”

        Let me explain why these ideas are a myth. Bear in mind I am, according to my kids, “an old codger”, a car nut and have been around cars and working on them, talked to people in the industry etc all of my teen and adult life.
        1. Old cars from the time we grew up we crap – poorly built, unreliable, polluting heaps of junk. No-one would actually lay down their money these days for anything like that.
        2. Modern safety and emissions rules, market competition and buyers’ functional demands would make a car like you propose unsellable.
        3. Take a Holden Commodore when it was built here, or a car like the Toyota Camry built in many places around the globe or even something like a BMW 5 series. The cost to build a standard model vs the cost to build a higher end model is little different. And broadly speaking it is fleets that tend to buy the lower end models (though that is quickly changing too as there are more user-chooser requirements even in fleets now) and private buyers the higher end models. Why? Because most people don’t want the more basic models, they want the safety, capability and features of the higher end models. Manufacturers make little or no money on lower end models but make them to create market volume and spread fixed costs. Note the disappearance of many cheaper cars from the market in recent times, not just in Australia.
        4. the car you suggest would cost much more than $10,000 as explained above if it complied with current standards. It would cost barely less than other better cars and hardly anyone would buy it. Each one would lose money.
        5. No society wants to go backwards.

        • The big questions in relation to affordable EV’s and the still increasing fleet of current model ICE vehicles are: 1. when will critical mass mean that ICE vehicles are worthless and 2. when will ICE > EV conversions become affordable?

          • Erik Christiansen says

            If it has to be critical mass which makes ICE vehicles worthless, then it could take nearly until the end of the decade. But escalating events, especially potentially embroiling Iran, can make them too expensive to operate, except as an occasional luxury, earlier than that. All ICE manufacturers have decreasing sales, and a number are heading for bankruptcy.

            But there are other variables. For some, ICE vehicles are worthless now. For me, my 24 year old ute is adequate until an EV ute with good carrying and towing capacity eventuates here. But I would unconditionally fill in with an interim EV before lashing out on legacy technology with increasingly insecure fuel prospects.

            As for the second question, it seems highly unlikely that an ICE to EV conversion will ever be an economic proposition. Last year the one I looked up was over $50k – doubtless more now with inflation. Neither range nor performance can compete with a ground-up EV, and nor will price before long.

        • Declan, maybe read the comment that someone is replying to for context before you reply to a reply.
          In response to the first bit before you start using numbers:
          Cheapest EV for sale in China was less than $5000 USD last time I checked. I don’t want one, I have a proper safe one. There might be a place for a restricted tier of speed limited town or city only vehicles. Might be safer than the “Gophers” that are driven around the footpaths and roads near where I live.
          I see you have gone with calling yourself an “Old Codger” as a preemptive defence to refer to others in that way.
          To your numbered bits.
          1. Not everyone would agree. Plenty are quite driveable, collectable pieces of history. Certainly often very unsafe. Happy to stick to a modern safe vehicle myself.
          2. Not really sure what you are saying I have suggested other than I could do with out a sunroof. (be a great spot for a shaped Solar PV panel). The only safety item in my EV I sometimes question is the lane assistance. Cutting towards the edge of the road because a clown is on your side on a corner, only to be given a nudge back in the “correct” direction, then be nudged back the other way when the car on the wrong side of the road is detected, is not as safe as me just avoiding the problem using my in built collision dectection and avoidance system.
          3. Very interesting opinion piece. Just not sure how it fits into a conversation revolving around the availability or otherwise of very cheap used cars in the future.
          4. Think this is in response, without actually reading my “If an EV with the same safety features as an old pre airbags Ford was allowed on our roads, they could be well under $10,000 new.”
          It could be:
          Hongguan Mini from $4800 USD. Never pass ADRs in base format I don’t want one. It should not be sold here, suggest it would sell.
          5. Fashion, design, architecture, mores, do go backwards and forwards. What we call progress is not always that. EVs are.

  13. Robert Cruikshank says

    I started down the EV path in 2016 when I ordered a Tesla Model 3 performance. Didn’t arrive until 2019 but by then I had solar and battery in the house as well. Now I’m charging my car through the day for free from the solar saturated grid (I sometimes get paid to charge the car) and making money from the solar charged battery at night. No cost to run the car (except tyres) and no electricity bills only credits. Now I’ve upgraded the EV to a Model Y performance and laugh every time I drive past a petrol station.

    • Sounds like an ideal situation ,good for you. However I”m sure the average person could not afford the initial costs and outlays . I”m sure the Government is pushing for the scenario you have , not caring or not realising the set up is way beyond the majority of the population

    • Ian Thompson says

      Yes, appears obvious that we’ve be encouraged to do the ‘heavy lifting’ by spending our own capital to raise decarbonising assets.

      But Robert, I don’t feel you can claim to charge your EV for free – when in reality you have pre-paid for the solar installation – so if you are forgoing feed-in tariffs to charge your EV, small though they are, then these cannot be claimed to pay for your asset.

      You do realise as well, that I could also achieve zero power bills – by simply paying enough to keep my account in credit… Clearly, one had to consider both the costs, and the savings generated.
      We see that a solar installation pays for itself within 4-5 years – but up until than, you’ve made zero, nada, savings.
      Of course if you cost petrol savings at $3 / litre, you will appear to pay off the capital cost so much faster – same applies for increasing tariffs.

      • Oh, I’m not charging my car from my solar panels. They are not powerful enough for that. I’m using the free energy from the grid in the middle of the day.
        My solar system will only produce 3 to 5 kWp (at its peak) while my car sucks 7 kW for a decent charge from a single-phase supply. I reserve my solar to charge my house battery charging, home appliances and to sell back to the grid at high tariff in the evening.
        When I charge my car the feed-in tariff is negative, so I have to either curtail export or use it. Feed-in tarif is up to -10 cents per kWh and the supply tariff is between 1 and 3 cents per kWh at this time of year between about 9am and 2pm on a sunny day (I’m on the amber electric tariffs using Ausgrid’s two-way tariff).
        Then after 2pm the feed-in tariff jumps at least 26 cents and then makes its way up to 40 to 50 cents by 6pm typically and I dump all the stored energy in the home battery and make a dollar or two and charge the car for 4 hours and run the house for a profit. Sometimes there is a spike, and we’ll see $17 per kW and I’ll make $20 or $30 for the day. Haven’t paid for any electricity for a couple of months now.
        ROI is on the way.

      • Ian – I see several problems with your claims. Your first point is partly true in that we are being encouraged to input our own capital in a subsidised process to invest in solar energy. We can see the benefit though of this investment in terms of ongoing savings – during the payoff period we are acquiring a subsidised asset and our bills are reduced or even removed.

        Studies have shown that in many parts of Australia domestic solar power may be paid for in much less than 4-5 years – as little as 2 years depending on siting, weather conditions and energy usage.

        Take my current situation. My large premium system is probably paid off – I haven’t bothered checking – and my bills are in credit. I have a good plan by current standards and significant net feed in – around 35kw/day. But some of that is on only 6c a kW/h. Unfortunately I can’t work out from the current setup if I am not being paid for excess feed in but the numbers seem to suggest that is the case.

        If I had an electric vehicle (as I will in the future, it would suit my situation very well – I could charge it almost exclusively during the day when I am either likely to forgo only 6c kW/h. Compare that to the likely increasing cost of petrol/diesel and I think the benefit is significant. And I suspect the time will come when we receive little or nothing for solar feed in. Rare topups either at night or when travelling would not change my annual cost much.

        Once this asset is paid off (including any interest cost or forgone return) then we are making a significant profit from our asset in terms of electricity cost not paid. In my previous house with a smaller system with a high gross feed in tariff (on a 20 year contract) it was paid for in about 4 years including a low interest loan of 2/3 of my capital cost.

        I do not understand your idea of keeping your account topped up in advance of paying a bill. As far as I can see that is increasing your electricity cost, not saving money.

  14. My father was born in 1906. At the time my grandfather owned a coach building service in Central Queensland. I remember him telling me when cars (motorcars as he called them) came to town all the Luddites banded together to petition the local authorities to ban cars from the centre of town. They argued that cars would scare the local population and the horses on the road as they passed through town. They argued that people would be killed or injured and horses would bolt especially at night. So the local authorities enacted as law that required a person to walk in front of a car holding a lantern as they pass through intersections in town. I don’t think that law lasted very long as everybody in authority had a car before long and my father turned the family business into an International Harvester franchise and trading in motorcars.

  15. Des Scahill says

    Seems to me Kim, that you’re severely under-estimating the full extent of overall ‘disruptive events’ of one kind or another throughout most of the globe. Many of those intertwine with each other to greater or lesser degrees, and have flow-on effects to OZ

    For example, many people live in areas adjacent to the sea, and coastal erosion is accelerating. Perhaps sooner than we think, those people might find themselves with few actual roads left to drive on. Moving further inland, widespread fires tend to melt bitumen surfaces on some sections of major highways, which can have all sorts of unexpected flow-on effects in regional centres. Likewise with ‘disruptive’ floods.

    About the only prediction we can make with any confidence these days is that things will continue get significantly worse but, depending on where you live and who the people around you vote for, personal situations will vary considerably.

    Energy and transport costs are two major influences on the everyday cost of living.for all of us, along with unexpected extreme weather events which affect our food supply and the manufacture of many everyday items most take for granted. Likewise in other countries.

    My overall concern is that despite our national mediocre performance so far towards a future that largely excludes fossil fuels, any further progress of any significance in OZ could end up being almost completely stymied..

  16. George Kaplan says

    Naysay: To oppose, deny, or take a pessimistic or negative view of.

    Skeptic: One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions.

    While this piece refers to naysayers, it doesn’t seem to make a distinction from skeptics, though recognises contrarian voices have legitimate concerns, some of which are mentioned. It also recognises there are a wide range of reasons for contrarian positions, some of which are valid e.g. perceived risks or political influence, though it doesn’t drill down to the fact that different people have significantly different considerations and interpretations e.g. human costs and influence pertaining to mining and use of EV resources versus influence of current fossil fuel providers and human cost of use, if any.

    Is the Boomer thing actually relevant? Oh it’s indisputable that folk usually get more conservative in some ways as they age, more skeptical of things, and more resistant to change, but is it fair to blame the 59-77 age bracket? Is the Silent Generation’s views no longer relevant? In all honesty I’m not sure if most of the EV skeptics I know are born before 1965.

    As regards the 10 Lessons, censorship is not only still rife, it’s even easier with digital technology. Quote the wrong source and your content can be reverted or unpublished. The Luddites probably had some valid concerns, not that most of use really have a clue what they believed, but advances in modern technology do raise questions about where, or if, there is a future role for human employees. Not mentioned, and perhaps apocryphal rather than real, but I vaguely recall hearing the head of a major company – something like IBM but presumably not them, stating that 3 computers would be all that was ever required, no need to invest in them.

    And are EVs guaranteed? Not really. Are the vehicles of Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate etc EVs or other tech? Perhaps the future will be something else.

    • “Is the Boomer thing actually relevant?”

      No it isn’t re EVs and provably so with data re sales and intention to purchase surveys.

      Is it a popular stance to take yes.

    • Kim Wainwright says

      Hi George. Yours are all fair points and it’s great to hear a range of opinions. This article is after all, an opinion piece, and certainly not fact. Thankfully we have a forum here on SQ where anyone can respectfully give theirs. The boomer thing is just my opinion from anecdotal experience (I’m one of them). The silent generation – they’re mostly even worse! It takes a special type of person to be open to new ideas as they enter the sunset years. That’s just my opinion, keep yours coming!

    • Erik Christiansen says

      George wrote “And are EVs guaranteed? Not really. Are the vehicles of Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate etc EVs or other tech? Perhaps the future will be something else.”

      In essence, the future will be what the doers make it, whether in concert or in conflict, so not always exactly what is anticipated. The talkers/sceptics and/or bemused meanwhile, can always climb aboard later.

      With BYD and Tesla profitably ramping sales at a market demolishing rate, sundry legacy ICE vehicle manufacturers busy doing a Kodak, and buyers waiting for the inevitable price reductions and/or a nifty ute being the major brakes on even more rapid adoption, the advent of ICE replacement is not merely a guaranteed future, it is a present which is already happening in sales, and will run to completion in a handful of years. Just as coal cannot survive commercially against renewables, overcomplicated primitive ICE propulsion cannot compete against electric propulsion with its ONE moving part and negligible maintenance. (And SiC power electronics is decidedly durable.)

      Whether H₂ has a chance depends on developments in battery technology. But it would be surprising if it manages to become more than a modest number of truck refuelling stops at major freight depots, as transporting H₂ is decidedly uneconomic. And before much H₂ generation and distribution infrastructure materialises, their lunch will have been eaten by simpler cheaper EVs.

      Absolutely need a long range 4WD every second year, for that outback safari? It’s cheaper to hire one. (In a few years it might be an EV with a battery trailer, due to nothing else being made by the few remaining vehicle manufacturers.)

      What price mechanical typewriters, when your AI finishes your sentences for you, as it types from speech? How long till manual driving without AI supervision will be a traffic offence, more serious than mobile phone use?

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Eric
        ‘One moving part’?
        You do realise don’t you, that EVs have more than just a rotor? How about a (fixed ratio) gearbox? A differential (unless dual motor, i.e.
        two rotors)?
        A torque motor (or similar) for power steering?
        An electric motor for brake boosting (even with regeneration)?
        Numerous motor and battery pack cooling fans?
        The performance model ‘S’ even has electric motor pumped oil cooling and bearing lubrication.
        Yes, I agree EVs are here to stay, and I feel sure they will be charged without the (current) heavy benefit of coal-sourced power in the fullness of time.
        What I have trouble understanding, with the ‘EV sales at a market demolishing rates’, is why the theory of market forces has changed. You’d think that with less demand for ICE vehicles, that the demand for fuel would be similarly reducing – in which case the costs for fuel should be reducing? Unless Geoffrey Miell’s ‘peak fuel’ theory is outstripping the reduction in demand (if this is even happening yet)? Or are the fuel vendors simply gouging us?

        • Erik Christiansen says

          Ian, I’m sorry that your riposte misses the point, as so often occurs in a knee-jerk reaction. The straw man you have created is not what I asserted. Please re-read what I did write: “Just as coal cannot survive commercially against renewables, overcomplicated primitive ICE propulsion cannot compete against electric propulsion with its ONE moving part and negligible maintenance. (And SiC power electronics is decidedly durable.)”

          Not once, but _twice_, the point is constrained to the motor, i.e. “ICE propulsion” vs “electric propulsion”, its power delivery, and the maintenance differential. The one moving major part in an electric motor has only rolling friction on long-life roller bearings, and no brushes, being either a 3 phase synchronous motor or a BLDC, which differs only in the commutation smarts. The myriad parts of our now steamless steam engines with fire inside have to be soaked in oil to delay the slow death of sliding wear.

          It seems to me that it takes frequent fast charging or perhaps driving in salt water to shorten the average life of a population of EVs. My 24 year old ICE ute has done a quarter of a million km, but only with a $4k engine job, and another $10k to $15k in regular maintenance. There are reports of EV taxis in China nearing one million km with negligible maintenance expenditure. Tesla owners in USA are sneaking up on half a million km, and they don’t even do an initial warranty service.

          The universal statistical bathtub curve produces a modest flurry of initial teething issues in any product population, and a gradual increase toward end of life, but with well built EV technology that life is much longer and incomparably low maintenance. (Also less oily.)

          It seems overly simplistic to expect petrol prices to decrease with falling demand. Saudi Arabia recently dropped production by a million barrels per day, to maintain artificial scarcity and its high price. Lower refinery & distribution volumes cause _higher_ unit prices, not lower.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Erik Christiansen: – “It seems overly simplistic to expect petrol prices to decrease with falling demand.

            I agree. Also, I’d suggest most of the easy/low-cost to extract oil has been found, extracted and consumed. The oil remaining to be exploited globally is increasingly more difficult/expensive to extract. Extraction costs will inevitably increase, and thus crude oil & petroleum fuel prices must rise or oil companies go broke.

            Erik Christiansen: – “Saudi Arabia recently dropped production by a million barrels per day, to maintain artificial scarcity and its high price.

            Per OilPrice, dated 12 Oct 2023:

            Saudi Arabia’s September production rose to 9.006 million bpd. The country’s quota—which includes The Kingdom’s 1 million bpd voluntary production cut quota—is 9 million bpd.

            https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/OPEC-Oil-Production-Rises-In-September.html

            I’d suggest circa 9 Mb/d in Sep 2023 is still well below 12 Mb/d, which was apparently almost achieved briefly in Apr 2020, or 11 Mb/d in Sep 2022.
            http://crudeoilpeak.info/wp-content/uploads/Saudi-Arabia-quotas-Brent-Covid-Oct22a.jpg

            Is Saudi Arabia just keeping production quotas low to “maintain artificial scarcity”, or is it that they cannot produce much more? It’s well known that Saudi Arabia’s largest oil field, Ghawar, has been in production decline since about 2008. Perhaps overall Saudi oil production is beginning to decline?
            https://energy-cg.com/OPEC/SaudiArabia/OPEC_SaudiArabia_Ghawar.html

            You may be interested in the NEVS Emily GT, with 4-wheel drive in-hub electric motors and 600 mile range battery.

  17. Why we decided to prioritise buying an EV over installing a solar system:

    We are a low income family and whilst we really wanted to go solar for the environment, when we did the sums we realised that because we are a small two bedroom household, our power bills are so low that it would take at least 12 years to pay off a decent solar system! …even if we didn’t go anywhere all weekend and charged our EV from solar during the day.

    The repayments and charging cost of our new EV over 5 years works out less than fuel and servicing of our old petrol car + we generated income when we sold our petrol car. With the savings we make now, even charging our EV from the grid at 25c/kw, compared to the fuel and servicing costs of our old petrol car, is significantly less. For people on a low income, surprisingly it was a no brainer to get the EV.

    So now we don’t generate any emissions from our vehicle, we have a reliable new car, and we are saving money.

    Whilst we’d prefer to go full solar for our household power usage, the cost of solar systems is too high and the panels and battery may need to be replaced in 12 years time anyway! putting us back to square one.

    Consequently, we now believe that it is government and the power companies’ responsibility to produce zero emissions electricity, especially when they do not offer subsidies for consumers to take this pressure off them.

    We’ve also decided it would be better to invest in double glazing than a solar system, which would cost less than a decent solar / battery system for a small house, reduce our power bills even further and would be a non-depreciating asset compared to solar.

    Solar doesn’t add up for everyone, the upfront costs are high for low power usage families, especially when there are virtually no real subsidies or incentives, and feed-in tariffs are collapsing too. Putting pressure back on to the power companies and government to produce clean power is valuable in its own right too.

  18. Another Bret Busby in WA says

    I did not see in the above article, or elsewhere on the web site, a comparison of what, if any, financial incentives are offered in each state/territory, for people to buy BEV’s (excluding hybrids, which equate to diesel train locomotives).

    My reason for this, is that IO have today, received an email message from BYD Australia, which states

    “Buy your BYD ATTO 3 today and receive an additional $500 on your WA Government electric vehicle incentive.

    Buyers of electric vehicles (EV) may be eligible for a $3,500 rebate from the WA Government.

    Receive an additional $500 Top-up when you purchase your BYD ATTO 3 before October 31, 2003.

    For a limited time, that’s a $4,000 rebate!”

    Now, my reason for including all of that text, is not for promoting either BYD or the ATTO 3 – I have no confidence in BYD Australia, after the mishandling of the T3 in Australia which was deliberately undersupplied and, is apparently not supported by BYD Australia.

    My reason for the inclusion of all of that text, is that that is the first notification that I have seen, of any financial incentive in Western Australia, for buying BEV’s, or, any other form of clean energy usage.

    Can someone please clarify the status of financial incentives for buying BEV’s in Western Australia?

    Thank you in anticipation.

  19. Kim Wainwright says

    Hi Bret. Thanks for your comment. Your best bet would be to flick an email or call the Australian Electric Vehicle Association to get the latest on financial incentives for buying BEVs in WA. When you find out you’re welcome to post the info here for all to see.

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