Is it possible and is it likely?
Well, incredibly, there is a strong possibility that it is going to happen.
To understand the scale of the problem here are a few figures. We currently have around 1000 million personal cars on the planet and manufacturer about 70 million new cars a year which gives an average lifespan of the fleet around 15 years,
Electric cars use high specification Lithium Ion batteries that are expensive and make up a large part of the cars total cost and the battery’s capacity dictates the cars range, so it is the battery that is the deal breaker.
The price of batteries has been dropping rapidly and needs to get below $125 per Kilowatt of storage to be below the cost of petrol for delivering transport competitively.
The technology in batteries is progressing so quickly that it will certainly be cost competitive against petrol within two or three years, if it has not already done so. The battery in the new Volkswagen iD.3 is reportedly below $100 per Kilowatt hour but that car is only just in production so we will have to wait a year before we find out.
Battery cost is one subject but the sheer volume of car production that is needed to make a difference is huge, but could it be achieved? The two manufacturers who have volume production at the moment are Tesla at around 270,000 a year and Nissan at about 85,000 while the popular Renault Zoe produces 30,000 cars a year and the Hyundai Kona a similar number. If we add in all the other manufacturers, we could be just over 500,000 cars a year.
If it all comes together as predicted battery prices will be lower than the comparable cost of petrol transport by about 2022 and hence there will be no point in an oil powered car. The volume car plants will convert to electric cars by about 2025 and we may have converted our entire vehicle fleet by 2040.
It may be earlier because, if we allow autonomous self-driving cars then many people will cease to have personal ownership of a car and therefore, we may not need to replace the whole 1000 million fleet because they would not be needed.