August 11th, 2016 by Zachary Shahan His recent article “22 Ways To Delay The Electric Car Revolution” was hugely popular, but readers offered a lot more ideas and wanted me to take the list to 50, so here we are.
Let’s say that, for some reason, you really don’t want humans to drive in cleaner, more enjoyable, more exciting, safer, better electric cars. How do you go about slowing down the transition? Below are prescriptions for four different groups (automakers, the media, investors, and politicians) that could “pitch in and do their part” to delay the transition.
- Whatever you do, don’t admit that electric cars can crush gasoline cars off the line.
- Certainly, do not produce a fully electric car that puts your quickest gasoline cars to shame.
- When the media asks you about electric cars, say that you support their development and are working on them, but also claim that they are too expensive, don’t have enough range, and customers don’t want them. (Ignore the fact that this is all basically because of how you’ve approached electric cars and the products you’ve created.)
- When advertising, target a tiny niche group of hippies and don’t focus on the better drive quality, acceleration, smooth ride, or greater convenience (home charging) of your electric cars.
- Very critically, don’t work hard to scale up battery production, and only make token baby steps (as a sign of “effort”) to roll out or help roll out fast charging.
- For that matter, act like 50 kW DC charging is “fast charging” and don’t touch anything over 100 kW for as long as possible.
- Give your electric cars 3.3 kW Level 2 max charging, rather than much more useful 10 kW or 20 kW Level 2 max charging.
- If forced to produce more electric cars in certain markets, make most of them plug-in hybrids with small batteries that take away from key benefits of EVs (like smooth acceleration, not having to go to a gas station, etc.)
- Really push the idea that the technology and consumers are not ready for fully electric cars, and that plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) will be important transition vehicles for decades to come.
- If forced to sell electric cars in popular car markets, tell customers not to buy them (but try not to admit that electric cars would destroy the competitive advantages and finances of your business, and that’s why you don’t want people to buy the better product).
- When you build your PHEVs, be sure to make the engines big and the motors small — this will help to make them more expensive than necessary while hiding the cost and performance benefits of EVs.
- Additionally, rather than designing EVs or PHEVs from scratch, just turn a gasoline model into an EV/PHEV model. This will be more complicated and make the model less appealing than building from scratch.
- When turning gas models into EV/PHEV models, make sure to cut out enough storage space that the car becomes impractical for most buyers.
- Do not produce EVs in the SUV, CUV, or pickup truck classes. Those categories are too popular and the operational cost benefits in those classes would be too appealing to buyers. Plus, if EVs/PHEVs compete in just a couple of categories (like the compact and subcompact classes), they will take less business from your gasoline cars.
- By the way, if you do have an attractive electric model, especially in a class without EVs, delay its introduction a few times, or even several times. Actually, just align your actual production plans with the concept “tomorrow never comes,” while letting consumers believe that tomorrow actually means the day after today.
- Pretend to be the biggest electric car fan and perhaps even the biggest electric car expert but sad that the technology just isn’t ready for consumers.
- If a fully electric car producer comes along with a competitive product, act like the company is a niche player that you don’t pay any attention to and criticize any downside (no matter how small) of its cars.
- When a fully electric car company like this is close to producing a mass-market car that will eat the lunch of your more expensive, performance-oriented models, claim that it is only vaporware (even if hundreds of people have ridden in a prototype and had their minds blown).
- In tandem with #8, claim that it is utterly impossible to make a profit on a competitive, long-range, attractive electric car if you are selling it for $35,000. Don’t make it sound like you don’t have a clue how to do this, or are lying through your teeth — be sure to make it seem as though this is completely impossible.
- If this new carmaker reveals an extremely attractive mass-market EV model for next year, and gets ~400,000 pre-orders for the car within a few months, announce that you will produce a similarly great (or greater) EV. Don’t give a date, or maybe say in 2020 or so. Do not give an expected price.
- Please, act like hydrogen fuel cell cars are the future, not total crap. Explain that you are not doing much with battery-electric cars because you believe in
fairy dustfuel cells.
- Even go so far as to waste money producing hydrogen fuel cell cars instead of battery-electric cars. Any delay tactic is a good tactic, even if it means wasting money — hey, that’s an even more convincing approach!
- When writing generic stories about electric cars, ignore their instant torque (which you’ve probably not experienced anyway, so is easy to ignore), the convenience of home charging, and the smooth and quiet ride they offer. Focus on any limitations you can think up, and frame the cars as being for people who hug trees on a regular basis and don’t care about much else.
- Highlight any dangers or downsides of batteries and make them sound worse than the dangers and downsides of extracting and burning fossil fuels. (Also ignore that we don’t seem to have any issue using batteries for our computers, tablets, phones, etc. Ignore that it’s much nicer to have these battery-powered electronics than to run polluting engines on them in order to do use them — something we can hardly fathom. Furthermore, ignore that many EV buyers also use solar power systems to run their cars on sunlight.)
- Write in a seemingly objective and well informed manner that lithium supplies aren’t adequate for a large number of electric cars. (Do not share that you are talking about current market supplies rather than actually available lithium supplies.)
- Ignore that we will be able to reuse batteries for stationary storage and/or recycle the vast majority of what’s inside of them.
- Claim that EV batteries will need to be replaced every 2–3 years. When it becomes obvious that is incorrect, change the timeline to 5–6 years.
- If an electric car company pops onto the scene, cover the ways in which it could go bankrupt. (Cherry pick if you must.)
- If anything ever goes wrong with one of this company’s electric cars, blow the problem completely out of proportion. (For example, if a single car catches fire, write a series of articles about this without mentioning that it is 5x more common for a gasoline car to catch on fire … and that the fire in a gasoline car is harder to contain, is less likely to let the driver out unharmed, and is thus more dangerous. Ignore that the driver whose car caught fire immediately says he wants another one of the same model and is thankful for the industry-leading safety measures of this electric car.)
- If the electric carmaker decides to lead in other areas as well, portray the leadership as risky, reckless, and irresponsible. (For example, if it has the most advanced autonomous driving system on the planet, which has multiple times been shown to prevent an accident, go absolutely ballistic if 1 person is killed while this autonomous driving system is on. Ignore statistics showing that the rate of death among drivers not using, let’s say, “Autopilot” is higher than the rate of death among drivers using it.)
- When writing about an electric carmaker’s financials and stock, obsess over short-term net losses while ignoring the money being put into growth and ludicrously fast development of core competitive advantages.
- All of a sudden, become concerned about subsidies — write long, out-of-context, misleading articles about a small portion of subsidies that go toward electric cars or electric carmakers while ignoring the trillions of dollars in subsidies that go toward fossil fuels every year. (Make sure it looks like you’ve objectively and carefully crunched the numbers — especially if you haven’t.)
- Ignore the financial, health, and livability threat of global warming at all costs.
- If you are going to skip that suggestion and write about the climate, make it seem like electric cars (despite having no direct tailpipe emissions) are actually dirtier than gasoline cars because there are coal power plants on the grid. Ignore that renewable energy dominates new power capacity (99% in Q1 2016 in USA), that electric cars are already greener than Toyota Prii almost everywhere anyway, and that electrification of transport is a critical element of any plan to keep warming below 2° Celsius (not that your readers/viewers know why that’s important).
- Assuming an electric carmaker tries to enter the scene, mock it for only producing a small number of handmade, expensive sports cars. Short the stock.
- If this carmaker grows up a bit, focus on any growing pains and predict its pending doom — maybe even throw in a countdown clock to bankruptcy/death. Short the stock.
- If the carmaker is persistent and produces a class-leading — even industry-leading … in all of history — product, according to both reviewers and customers, don’t mind the hype and start calling everyone who writes positive things about the company a fanboy or fangirl. Short the stock.
- If the carmaker won’t stop growing, and pumps a great deal of cash into faster growth, act like it will run out of money tomorrow, collapse, and leave a crater the size of Texas as a nearly eternal scar on the planet. Short the stock.
- If the company decides to expand into complementary industries, portray that as reckless, a recipe for bankruptcy, pointless, and idiotic. Ignore that top solar industry pioneers and execs claim it’s a great idea. Short the stock.
- If the company has to implement a resale value guarantee in order to obtain competitive financing options for its customers, and GAAP accounting has a warped way of recording that which makes essentially no sense to the finances or viability of the business, argue that using non-GAAP financing to fix the problem is a slick way of tricking, robbing, and pillaging investors before an inevitable bankruptcy. Short the stock.
- If this 100% electric car company also adds unique features to its cars (like automatically opening doors, falcon-wing doors, etc.), claim that the entire company, including its stock value, is built on gimmicks. Short the stock.
- Even if this car company actually had the highest gross profit margins per car in the industry, but is growing very fast and investing a lot of money into that growth, simply divide the number of cars produced by all expenditures in order to claim that the company “loses money on every car sold.” Short the stock.
- Act as if you have completely crunched the numbers and determined that a concept electric car that this electric car company is planning to sell costs much more to build than the selling price. Claim that the batteries alone cost as much as the selling price of the car — and try not to let company executives get on the same call with you and tell you that your battery cost assumptions are completely absurd by sharing the actual battery cost.
- If things are really going too well for this electric car company, claim that the CEO is lying about everything, committing felonies (making comparisons to Scrushy, Madoff, and Enron can help with this strategy), and should be throw into a jail on
the moonMars as punishment.
- When discussing EV subsidies, ignore the massive subsidies that go to oil and that have gone to oil for decades and decades.
- When discussing subsidies, completely ignore externalities — which are a form of subsidy and cost us trillions and trillions of dollars.
- Hype hydrogen as the future of cars and as a reason to not support battery-electric vehicles. (This strategy can be used for decades if approached and planned carefully.)
- Give a lot more money to hydrogen fuel cell cars and infrastructure than to battery-electric cars and infrastructure, in order to more quickly and uselessly drain the government piggy bank for cleaner cars.
- Do not mandate that automakers produce electric cars, or if you do, make sure to water down the regulations enough that automakers can jump through some loopholes to get around the requirement.
- Pretend that CO2 is good for us and plants can’t get enough of this scrumptious food (sort of like humans can’t eat too much sugar). Claim that we should actually subsidize gasoline cars more.
If all of the above fails, maybe it’s time to find a new job….