[2023 Predictions #2] — Fossil Fuel / ICE Cars Are Here To Stay
-- reposting blog articles in its new home --
Tesla has been on a tear, gaining massive market share, setting the car industry on fire ever since it launched its pioneering EV Car on the consumer market back. Tesla’s Model S sedan launch in 2012 was a super duper bumper hit with the consumers and immediately caught everyone attention and propelled Tesla to the limelight of both media & business spotlight.
Elon Musk instantly rose up the echelons as one among the greatest entrepreneurs & visionary of the century. Elon Musk has vigorous promoted and touted Tesla & the battery powered, carbon emission free, electric vehicle as a game changer in the fight against Global Warming and reducing dependency on Fossil Fuel.
There is absolutely no doubt that Elon Musk via Tesla “smacked on heads of the car industry & oil industry veterans” and brought everyone's attention to build “clean cars” and not pollute the air that all of us breathe.
There is absolutely no doubt that Elon Musk almost single handedly managed to influence almost the entire middle-east countries — including the great Saudi Arabia, UAE, & more — to loosen their grip on solely depending on oil for their future to looking at “alternatives”. This has actually been quite beneficial to the region, as currently in 2023, the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region which includes Saudi Arabia, UAE & others are the fastest growing economies with heavy investment in technology, new infrastructure, and scientific research in new / alternative sources of energy.
It couldn’t have been just a coincidence but a reckoning due to Tesla’s growing dominance. Bottom line, the strategic impact Tesla has had for the OPEC consortium & MENA region, cannot be undermined.
Lets look at the fundamentals:
Its quite known fact that US, China, India, UK and many developed countries in Europe are among the largest contributors to the Global Warming / greenhouse gas emission.
According to US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), almost 30% of the these greenhouse gases are from transportation, specifically cars
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation account for about 27 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor of U.S. GHG emissions. Between 1990 and 2020, GHG emissions in the transportation sector increased more in absolute terms than any other sector.
This is largely due to the fact that burning gas / petrol / diesel for the Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) that propels almost 100% of the cars, prior to Tesla & EV cars, releases harmful Greenhouse Gas (GHG) to the atmosphere polluting the environment. This is bad no doubt.
While the US govt had “wanted” to figure out an exit from this tricky conjecture, Elon Musk apparently thrusted himself into this equation, wanted to solve this for the better for all, meticulously & successfully innovated on the Electric Vehicle to launch Tesla.
While much of this history, Tesla and the array of EV companies have surely caught the interest of younger generation, Gen-Z and Alpha’s, by branding them as the “Emission Free / Clean Cars” to drive for the benefit of Global Warming and more.
OK great, now what are the raw materials required to build this awesome, clean batteries that power the EVs?
EV battery chemistries depend on five critical minerals whose domestic supply is potentially at risk for disruption: lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, and graphite. The U.S. Geological Survey designated these and other minerals as “critical,” according to the methodology codified in the Energy Act of 2020
OK great, where do we go to extract these raw materials?
We started to get attracted, fantasized to the EV cars due to the fact the Fossil Fuels are, technically, 1) Limited in supplies and 2) They are harmful to global warming.
Lets look at first predicament:
How does global oil reserves compare to lithium and other raw material for EV cars?
We technically have enough oil reserves for another 50 years till 2070 say.
Now lets look at Lithium & EV raw material reserves:
According to World Economic Forum — https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/07/electric-vehicles-world-enough-lithium-resources/
The world could face lithium shortages by 2025, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says, while Credit Suisse thinks demand could treble between 2020 and 2025, meaning “supply would be stretched”.
About 2 billion EVs need to be on the road by 2050 for the world to hit net zero, the IEA says, but sales stood at just 6.6 million last year, and some carmakers are already selling out of EVs.
Lithium supply faces challenges not only from surging demand, but because resources are concentrated in a few places and over half of today’s production is in areas with high water stress.
Future developments with batteries or manufacturing methods could eventually alleviate some lithium shortages.
Basically we would run out of Lithium before Oil reserves deplete !!!
Sure there are some new interesting technology being developed that can produce more energy per battery, which can technically extend the depletion by a decade, that is still puts at 2050 or so when Lithium reserves will be depleted out of the face of Earth!
Second Claim: EV batteries are more friendly to Global Warming
There is no doubt that EV cars to do let out smoke while driving and pollute the air that you drive. However manufacturing the energy potent batteries in itself is quite unfriendly to the environment. There has been an increasing focus and voices from experts to double down on research and efficient tracking on the total net cost of mining — to — manufacturing the batteries
Taking a step back, EV’s are mining for Lithium & other rare-earth minerals, while ICE engines are mining for Oil. Both are just mining one mineral vs the other. Both are technically in “limited” quantity!!
Both Lithium & Oil are not infinite, renewable energy resources , but finite minerals mined from the crust of the Earth.
One might be a lesser evil than other at the moment, but both are just equally bad to the global warming equation on the overall.
The Flip Side:
I remember a time when the fuel efficiencies of cars were in the low single digits (5 km / liter or so) , when things changed all of a sudden with Obama‘s new Emission Control law — https://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/19/business/19emissions.html
A new national standard that will create a car and light truck fleet in the United States that is almost 40 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016 than it is today, with an average of 35.5 miles per gallon.
I can imagine that somewhere , some company is working on a revamp Internal Combustion Engine that is 10X more fuel efficient and emits near zero Greenhouse gas. I predict that someone will innovate on this in the next 3yrs, by 2026, and it will be a game changer for the car industry as we know it!
While EV might become a fancy at that point in future, the new ICE cars will continue to run on fossil fuel with much better fuel efficiency and emissions that net-net will be more eco-friendly that mining & manufacturing those lithium batteries.
The Longer Goal:
“We were promised flying cars…!!”
Think about it, the Star Wars back in 1970’s were bold enough to dream about flying cars. We have got Star Trek fiction where in most of the cars and vehicles are powered by some sort of an “LASER” or “Hydrogen” energy.
Hydrogen, Nuclear, Laser, Water, Solar , Magnetic — all these are mostly available in infinite quantities and turn out to be the true “renewable energy” sources.
It would be fantastic, if we could soon invent cars , buses and taxis powered by one of these truly renewable energy sources, getting rid of “mining” altogether.