Electric Car Tipping Point (For Domination) Within 10 Years, Tesla CTO JB Straubel Predicts (Video)

Tesla Motors CTO JB Straubel was the headliner at Intersolar North America last week. He talked about the transition to lithium-ion batteries and how that opened the floodgates for electric cars and stationary storage (eventually); the synergy between EVs, solar, and grid storage; the growth of solar power and grid storage; blah blah blah.

I know, I actually love all that stuff as much as the rest of you — it’s what I read, edit, & write about every day(!) — but it’s basically all general history and trends we know all about. But then JB dropped the awesome-bomb:

“I think we’re at the beginning of a new cost-decline curve, and, you know, this is something where there’s a lot of similarities to what happened with photovoltaics. Almost no one [would have predicted] that photovoltaic prices would have dropped as fast as they have, and storage is right at the cliff, heading down that price curve. It’s soon going to be cheaper to drive a car on electricity — a pure EV on electricity — than it is to drive a gasoline car. And as soon as we see that kind of shift in the actual cost of operation in a car that you can actually use for your daily driver, you know, from all manufacturers I believe we’re going to see electric vehicles come to dominate the whole transportation fleet.

“Also, that same battery cost decrease is going to drive batteries in the grid. There’s going to be much faster growth of grid energy storage than I think most people expected. You suddenly get to have energy that’s 100% firm and buffered from photovoltaics that’s cheaper than fossil energy. And we’re within sort of grasping distance of that goal, which is very, very exciting.

“Because once we get to that, and there really is no going back, it will make sense to do this economically without any environmental consideration whatsoever. So that’s the amazing tipping point that’s going to happen within I’m quite certain the next 10 years.”

The next 10 years!


Mic drop.

(Though, he didn’t actually drop the mic.

You can watch the highlights via Intersolar on YouTube — video below or just start here to jump to JB.

Another great quote, however, was this gem: “It’s not going to be many years before Tesla will have a million cars, or 70 gigawatt-hours of storage.” (That quote wasn’t in the highlight video above for some reason!)

One million cars. Can you imagine? Will you have a Tesla by then?

11 thoughts on “Electric Car Tipping Point (For Domination) Within 10 Years, Tesla CTO JB Straubel Predicts (Video)

  1. The man is spot on. Electric cars will win the field big time and it will create all kinds of social chaos. For example if you own an expensive, new, car right now what will its value be five years from now? It just might be zero even if it looks like the day it was created.

    1. I am little bit more worried about the stranded assets in traditional car industry. To extrapolate from recent but still expanding Volkswagen scandal, it is increasingly likely that traditional car companies cannot make the transition to electric cars without massive wave of bankruptcy.

      1. We probably will see chaos in the traditional car makers financial status. But chaos is normal. Imagine what the horse industries went through when cars became a reasonable choice. Making buggy whips went to hell in a hand basket. More recently the beeper industry crashed due to smart phones. But the greatest issue is that human employment is going to become very rare. People will be forced to accept new ideas and attitudes and it will be quite painful for them. Just as Uber swept the transportation industry self driving cars will sweep away Uber drivers rather soon. There are already homes and one bridge being built by 3D printers. Imagines high quality homes with almost no humans involved sweeping the construction industry. There are already small boats that have been 3D printed. I’ll bet money that larger, luxury boats will soon be 3D printed displacing boat builders really quickly.

        1. There will always be value in things created by hand. But it is already seen as a luxury.
          Personally I would much rather live in a house built by humans with natural locally sourced materials than a 3D printed one.

      2. Change will cause pain. It always does. A drama is about to be seen in electric companies. As more and more homes go solar the effect will be that power lines will be out of use in more and more homes. Imagine if you are in the suburbs and your home is the last one on the block. All of the poles, wire and transformers now must be maintained just to supply that one home instead of every home on the block. The cost of electricity will soar. Tesla is now producing storage batteries that could keep homes going at night. Heavy industry will still require power delivery so the cost will be much higher for them as well. Electric cars can act as storage for powering the home as well.

      3. Nah. They know the writing is on the wall. Don’t be so doom and gloom Jouni- if anything the auto industry is going to explode with new brands and products. Going to be a very good time for car fans.

  2. These trends are exciting, but I can’t help but believe that they are way to optimistic. A Tesla S costs 80K, and I don’t think the costs are coming down to a comparable hybrid or all-gasoline car as soon as this author thinks.

    However, there will certainly be disruption when electrics begin to be competitive for the masses. And pointing out the disruption that will be caused when gasoline fueling stations begin to disappear because of the lack of business is most interesting, and something I hadn’t thought about.

    1. The high costs of the Tesla products reflects the high demand for their products. Really the Tesla cars could be made cheaper than a Ford or Chevy ever could. Tesla is now in the electrical industry as well and you can bet there is no end to the money that they will make.

    2. You can’t gauge retail price on Tesla – they’re currently a niche, low -production product. Just wait until GM, Ford, Toyota et al have ramped up the assembly lines- prices for electric vehicles will be very similar to gas – maybe even lower. We re-tooled the entire auto industry in a year to build planes and tanks for WWII, and then re-tooled it all over again in a year when the war was over. It won’t take mass-manufacturers long to convert from gas to electric production. PS – it’s “too optimistic” not “to optimistic” Sorry- I’m a grammar nazi. Good points though…

  3. I think this is right-on. Mom-Pop gas stations are already on the verge of going under because they’re a hassle for the owners and only net pennies a gallon. It won’t take much of an arm-twisting to get them to open a used electric car lot on their property instead. Once Tesla has some working-man-priced competition the end will be near for gas-powered vehicles.

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