From Fossil Car to Electric Car

The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. Nor did we run out of hay before moving to the car from the horse.

With oil, the expectation has by contrast always been that we would run out (or start to) and the resulting shift in transport would be to ‘something else’ by necessity.

Currently, oil is in a state of oversupply. Worldwide, it has been at a generally low price per gallon for almost two years. Yet the headlines across the country and the world are all pointing to a new direction for transport. The Whitecar team feel strongly this is a tipping point, as pressure builds for something better.

The electric car is a hugely sensible vehicle.

Batteries in an electric car can be used for at least 200,000 miles, then re-used for decades as stationary energy storage. At the end of their second working life, they are recycled. Electric cars recharge while you sleep, when the power grid is in a state of oversupply. They are quiet, extremely comfortable in traffic, and make no pollution at the street level. Electric cars lend themselves to autonomous driving through their simpler drivetrains. You can pre-heat or pre-cool an electric car before you start a journey. No more scraping on a windscreen to remove frost!

You can refuel your car at home, for pennies worth of electricity. With more electricity generation coming from clean and cheap renewable power, the grid gets cleaner and your fuel source does as well.

King among the electric car is the Tesla – that is why we chose Tesla for our rental fleet – and both Tesla and Whitecar are right at the front of the coming revolution.

The electric car rises, but what does the fall look like for the others?

The shift to electric car from fossil fuel car will be cemented by new laws and government targets. As a result, the economy will go through several threats. The value of current fossil fuel (or old-fashioned) vehicles will decrease rapidly. A century of engine research and development will be thrown out or massively, expensively, modified. Fuel supply mechanisms will be rethought and the price of electricity will undergo a significant review.

The first victim will be diesel vehicles. Millions have been spent on improving the combustion of this fuel, but air pollution in cities is getting worse. Pollution from diesel fuel shoulders the majority of the blame; the fuel is now taking on the negative social perception usually reserved for smoking in a hospital.

Large diesel vehicles should be expected to depreciate at a far higher rate, falling below the future value current car finance packages allow for. A reduction in future value leads to a negative equity situation for large finance institutions, causing a squeeze on car credit. If this is identified early enough, then it will lead to increased costs for purchasing a diesel car, which will have a multiplying effect on their demise. As cities attempt to tackle air pollution, diesel vehicles will likely be banned first, with a shift to electric cars long term and possibly petrol hybrids in the short term.

As diesel vehicles are pushed out, the focus will turn to reducing the amount of petrol vehicles.

The Electric Car Emerges

Meanwhile battery technology is improving and prices are falling considerably. With their simpler drivetrain, electric cars will become cheaper to manufacture than current cars. The buying process will move from ‘Should I buy an electric car’ to ‘Who makes the best electric car?’.

Manufacturers across the world are moving quickly to develop electric cars. Volkswagen, Volvo and Ford have made extensive commitments to increase their offering. Jaguar will launch their new electric car soon. But they all continue to make and specialise in old-fashioned cars. Their dealership network exists to sell and service old-fashioned cars. They are not ready for the change that is coming,

Electric cars need less servicing, and in the future perhaps will not be owned by individuals. The increase in autonomous driving and the shared economy will have a big effect on car ownership.

So we are left with the question, is a ban on petrol and diesel cars in 2040 ambitious enough?

The air pollution issue we face today is not going away. The climate change issue we face today is not going away. A concerted effort across all modes of powered transport to reduce and eliminate pollution is needed, today.

But the announcement of the ban is a start and is one we welcome. Whitecar is happy to work to accelerate progress to an electric future, one rental customer at a time.