America 2.0: Electric Vehicles & The EV Revolution
Electric vehicles — also called EVs — are the next evolution in automobiles. They are powered by electric motors, as opposed to gas-fueled internal-combustion engines.
EVs are eco-friendly because, unlike conventional cars and trucks, they have no air-pollution emissions.
They can be powered with clean, renewable energy from external sources — such as solar, wind, hydropower or other nonfossil fuels. But even when they are charged with electricity from conventional plants — using gas, oil, coal, natural gas or other nonrenewable fossil fuels — EV motors are more fuel efficient than internal-combustion engines.
As a result, EVs release less carbon per mile, no matter what power source is used to charge them up.
EV sales are poised for massive growth in the years ahead. EVs comprised only 2% of the global automotive market in 2016, but their numbers are growing by leaps and bounds every year. By 2030, 22% of the cars and trucks on the road will be electric.
That’s why EV technology is one of the key mega trends fueling what Paul calls America 2.0 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
What Are Electric Vehicles?
EVs are powered by one or more electric or traction motors — powered by rechargeable batteries stored in a battery pack, instead of internal combustion engines fueled by gas.
Most are powered by batteries charged with electricity from off-vehicle sources. Some EVs and hybrids have their own self-contained batteries juiced by solar panels or electric generators that convert fuel to electricity.
EVs include conventional automobiles and trucks, but also trains, rail vehicles, water craft, underwater vessels and even aircraft and spacecraft.
A brief history of EVs:
The first experimental EVs were actually developed in the mid-19th century, when electricity was the preferred source of energy for engines and machines of all types.
In the early 1900s, Thomas Edison said he believed EVs were the best mode of transportation and built a better battery.
But Edison, and EVs, were quickly pushed aside by internal combustion engines, which have dominated the automotive industry for more than100 years.
We can thank Henry Ford and his Model T for that. He began mass-producing gas-powered cars available right after the turn of the 20th century. But even Ford made a concession to the appeal and efficiency of electric power: In 1912, he introduced the electric starter for his vehicles.
Renewed interest in EVs emerged with the environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s, when smog and pollution from automobiles poised the air around the world. EVs got a big boost from NASA’s Lunar Rover, when the electric-powered vehicle trekked across the surface of the moon in 1971.
By 1973, gas prices were also soaring — remember the energy crisis that struck the U.S. during the Carter Administration — providing another incentive for EVs to go mainstream.
The first experimental EVs were built by individual engineers and college students in do-it-yourself projects that tested various technologies and approaches. By the mid-1970s, General Motors and other automakers began exploring options for alternative-fuel vehicles like EVs.
A few prototypes — including Sebring-Vanguard’s CitiCar — even began showing up. But throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, most EVs had limited range and performance and were too costly to mass-produce.
It was only in the early 1990s that federal and state regulations — and huge leaps in EV technology — generated new interest in them.
The first true commercially available EV emerged in 1996, when GM rolled out its EV1, which quickly gained a cult following. Toyota followed a year later with its hybrid Prius — which was released worldwide in 2000.
But Tesla Motors took EVs to the next level, producing its first luxury electric sports car with a range of more than 200 miles on a single charge. Other automakers quickly followed Tesla’s lead, and by 2009, a new nationwide charging infrastructure was under development — accelerating the rise of EVs.
By 2013, nearly 20,000 residential, commercial and public charging facilities were in place, boosted by U.S. Department of Energy investments.
About the same time, EV battery costs began to plummet, helping to bring down the costs of EVs to levels comparable to sticker prices of conventional gas-powered cars. In addition, research shows EVs cost less per mile than their gas counterparts, even though they tend to cost more up front.
- A 2018 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found EVs cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered cars. The American EV owner spends $485 per year on energy costs, while the average gasoline-powered vehicle owner shells out $1,117 on gas.
- A 2019 analysis by Loup Ventures found Tesla Model 3 owners save almost $6,000 on fuel and $2,800 on maintenance over five years, compared to Toyota Camry drivers.
- Market research by Cox Automotive shows average EV prices dropped overall from $64,300 to $55,600 in 2019 — a 13.4% decline over the previous year.
- Cost-comparison studies show EV prices falling, with a new Bloomberg study saying EVs as a vehicle class could be cheaper than combustion-engine cars by 2022.
Plus, a range of federal and state electric care rebates and incentives are available for new EV buyers.
Cost, technology, efficiency and environmental factors are all fueling a rise in EVs. Today, consumers have an enormous variety of EV makes and models to choose among. Tesla has risen to dominate the market.
But a handful of automakers are jockeying for room on the road, including GM, Kia, Hyundai, Chrysler, Subaru, Audi, Jaguar, BWM and Volvo.
How Do EVs Work?
Fintech’s growth is driven by three primary factors:
EV engines are technologically simpler than internal-combustion engines. The latest models require less maintenance, such as regular oil changes, and tend to run better over time.
EVs are powered by battery packs that need to be plugged into charging 240-volt stations — residential, public or commercial — typically for at least a few hours to fully charge.
But advances — in batteries, battery storage and charging capability — will certainly bring those numbers down in the years ahead and expand the lifespans of the batteries.
Today, most EVs are currently capable of going about 100 miles between charges. The exception is the Tesla Model S, which can travel about 250 miles on a charge. In addition, Tesla recently announced that it is developing a new battery that can run 1 million miles over the course of a vehicle’s lifetime — twice the typical mileage.
So here’s what’s happening under the hood of an EV:
When you plug an EV into a charging station or facility, the car draws electricity from it for storage in its a battery pack. The pack can only hold so much electricity, just as a gas tank can only hold so many gallons. In an EV, this limit is expressed in kilowatt hours, or kWh. Most EV batteries store electricity levels in the 20-30 kWh range, but the most expensive Teslas can take up to 100 kWH. The EV battery’s level of efficiency will determine how many miles it can cover with each kWH in the pack.
How long your EV has to be connected to a plug for a full charge depends on many factors. All modern EVs are able to accept at least 240-volt so-called “level 2” charging speeds, which adds about 25 miles of range per hour of charging to your battery pack. Some chargers — like the Tesla Supercharger — are faster.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy
All electric cars have these key components:
Battery (all-electric auxiliary): In an electric drive vehicle, the auxiliary battery provides electricity to power vehicle accessories.
Charge port: The charge port allows the vehicle to connect to an external power supply in order to charge the traction battery pack.
DC/DC converter: This device converts higher-voltage DC power from the traction battery pack to the lower-voltage DC power needed to run vehicle accessories and recharge the auxiliary battery.
Electric traction motor: Using power from the traction battery pack, this motor drives the vehicle’s wheels. Some vehicles use motor generators that perform both the drive and regeneration functions.
Onboard charger: Takes the incoming AC electricity supplied via the charge port and converts it to DC power for charging the traction battery. It monitors battery characteristics such as voltage, current, temperature and state of charge while charging the pack.
Power electronics controller: This unit manages the flow of electrical energy delivered by the traction battery, controlling the speed of the electric traction motor and the torque it produces.
Thermal system (cooling): This system maintains a proper operating temperature range of the engine, electric motor, power electronics and other components.
Traction battery pack: Stores electricity for use by the electric traction motor.
Transmission (electric): The transmission transfers mechanical power from the electric traction motor to drive the wheels.
What’s Driving the EV Trend?
Government policies, subsidies and grants, tax rebates and other nonfinancial benefits — such as special parking and car pool lane access for EVs — have helped drive sales and use of electric cars in recent years.
In addition, changes in new car registration have bolstered EVs. In some urban areas of China, for example, new car registration of internal combustion engine vehicles is banned.
The increasing vehicle range, falling costs and better availability of charging stations — part of a new Infrastructure 2.0 emerging the U.S. and around the world — are also fueling global electric vehicle sales.
But the primary force that is driving the EV trend is consumer and commercial demand for renewable and sustainable forms of energy — for our vehicles, homes, businesses, commercial buildings and public facilities, as well.
These consumer and manufacturing trends are fueling tech developments that are reshaping the nation’s — and the world’s — energy use, and will continue to do so over the next three decades.
Renewable energy is any power source that comes from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished indefinitely — such as sunlight, wind, water, tides, waves and geothermal heat.
It is sometimes referred to as clean energy, or “endless energy,” because it is largely nonpolluting and comes from never-ending power sources that are available 24/7 (i.e. those that are constantly being renewed).
By contrast, fossil fuel sources — gas, oil, coal natural gas — and nuclear power are finite and limited in supply. Fossil fuels are also much more environmentally damaging and contribute far more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than renewable energy sources.
Nuclear plants do not generate air pollution or carbon emissions. But they do produce radioactive waste that must be stored indefinitely and the plants can pose risks, as we saw with the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986.
Fossil fuels and nuclear power are the dominant energy sources worldwide today, in part because they have tended to be cheaper than renewable energy. But that balance is changing as renewable energy sources — principally solar, wind and hydro — are catching up, as technology advances and costs are falling.
As a result, the world is starting to turn away from these traditional old-world fuels to new-world renewable enery that is cleaner, safer and often more efficient.
By 2050, renewable energy is projected to overtake fossil fuels as the primary source of electricity worldwide.
Market research projects the share of renewable energy will increase from 25% in 2017 to 85% over the next 30 years, mostly through growth in solarand wind power generation.
Paul has identified the renewable energy revolution as one of the key mega trends that will fuel what he calls “America 2.0” and a Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The rise of EVs is a great example of how consumer demand is pushing sales and technology advances up, and costs of such vehicles down.
As the focus shifts cleaner, safer and more efficient alternatives, they will become the primary power sources for vehicles, as well as homes, businesses and public utilities.
It is estimated that, by 2050, renewable energy will generate 85% of the world’s power overall, up from 25% in 2017, market research shows.
So, the energy market is evolving quickly, as new technology is expanding the reach of renewables — including huge advances in battery storage tech — which is driving down consumer, commercial and public costs.
This trend is not only good for the environment — curbing pollution and carbon emissions — but it also reduces energy costs and consumer expenses.
EVs are a great example of how the renewable energy trend is taking hold.
Historically, EVs cost more than combustion-engine cars and trucks, but those prices are falling along with tech advances that have brought down the cost of manufacturing them.
Market research by Cox Automotive shows average electric vehicle prices dropped from $64,300 to $55,600 in 2019 — a 13.4% decline over the previous year.
And cost-comparison studies show the operating costs of EVs are substantially lower over a vehicle’s lifetime than for their conventional counterparts. A new Bloomberg study says EVs as a vehicle class could be cheaper than combustion-engine cars by 2022.
For all these reasons, we’re seeing an uptick in EVs on the road, in addition to the growth in home- and business-based new energy systems.
And it’s not just an American trend. Globally, fossil fuels accounted for two-thirds of the world’s energy supplies in 2018. By 2050, renewable energy sources will take their place, while gas, oil and coal will fall to less than one-third of the global power grid.
What this means is that the new energy revolution will rival — and trump — all of the industrial revolutions of the past.
And the key to all of these advances is energy storage.
Businesses will need new battery technologies to store all of that new, renewable energy over the next three decades.
State-of-the-art EV charging stations and in-home plug-in systems that power up vehicles’ batteries are already starting to step into the gap here, with lower-priced batteries hitting the market.
In fact, tech innovations have driven battery prices down 84% over the last nine years, as electric vehicle-charging facilities have become increasingly common, market research shows. And market research shows the expansion of battery manufacturing for electric vehicles, homes and businesses will continue to drive down the price of batteries.
By some estimates, battery costs will fall 64% between now and 2030, as advances in battery tech make energy storage even cheaper and more efficient for wind, solar and other new energy sources.
One other factor driving the EV revolution: The nation’s 92 million millennials have embraced them (along with other tech innovations at the heart of America 2.0), in part because of the environmental benefits.
Millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996 — are the most tech-savvy generation in history. And they’re on track to become the biggest wage earners, buyers and money managers since the baby boomers.
They are also embracing renewable energy, particularly EVs, in a big way.
What Are Some Examples of EVs?
The three main types of EVs are classed by the degree to which electricity is their energy source:
- BEVs — battery electric vehicles.
- HEVs — hybrid electric vehicles.
- PHEVs — plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Here’s a closer look at each type of EV:
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are fully-electric vehicles with rechargeable batteries and no gasoline engine. Battery electric vehicles store electricity onboard with high-capacity battery packs, powering the electric motor and all onboard electronics.
BEVs are charged by electricity from an external source, classified by the speed with which they recharge an EVs battery — level 1, level 2 and level 3 or DC fast-charging.
- Level 1 uses a standard household (120v) outlet to plug into the EV and takes eight hours or more to charge an EV for typically 75-80 miles. Level 1 charging is typically done at home or the workplace and can charge most EVs on the market.
- Level 2 requires a specialized station providing 240v of power. Level 2 chargers are typically found at workplaces and public charging stations and will take about four hours to charge a battery to 75-80 miles of range.
- Level 3 charging, or DC fast-charging, is the fastest option. DC fast chargers are found at dedicated EV charging stations and charge a battery up to 90 miles range in approximately 30 minutes.
BEV makes and models include:
- Tesla Model 3.
- BMW i3.
- Chevy Bolt.
- Chevy Spark.
- Nissan LEAF.
- Ford Focus Electric.
- Hyundai Ioniq.
- Karma Revera.
- Kia Soul.
- Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
- Tesla Model S.
- Tesla X.
- Toyota Rav4.
- Volkswagen e-Golf.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) are powered by both gasoline and electricity. An onboard computer controls the two motors, ensuring the best economy for the driving conditions The electric energy is generated by the car’s own braking system to recharge the battery — called “regenerative braking.” HEVs start off using the electric motor, then the gas engine cuts in as load or speed rises.
HEV makes and models include:
- Toyota Prius Hybrid.
- Honda Civic Hybrid.
- Toyota Camry Hybrid.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) can recharge the battery through both “regenerative braking” and by plugging into an external source of power. Standard HEVs can go about one to two miles before the gas engine kicks in, but PHEVs can go 10 to 40 miles before their gas engines provide assistance.
PHEV makes and models include:
- Chevy Volt.
- Chrysler Pacifica.
- Ford C-Max Energi.
- Ford Fusion Energi.
- Mercedes C350e.
- Mercedes S550e.
- Mercedes GLE550e.
- Mini Cooper SE Countryman.
- Audi A3 E-Tron.
- BMW 330e.
- BMW i8.
- BMW X5 xdrive40e.
- Fiat 500e.
- Hyundai Sonata.
- Kia Optima.
- Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.
- Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid.
- Toyota Prius.
- Volvo XC90 T8.
Which Companies Are at the Center of the EV Trend?
Tesla Motors is the big dog on the EV block, dominating the industry worldwide. Elon Musk’s innovative company wasn’t the first to mass-produce an EV — that was GM, whose 1996 EV1 was the first commercially available electric vehicle to hit the market, followed by the Toyota hybrid Prius in 2000.
But Telsa has taken EVs to the next level, producing the first luxury electric car with a range of more than 200 miles on a single charge.
In terms of market share and sales, Tesla is — by far — the leading U.S. EV manufacturer, accounting for 80% of the 245,000 EVs sold in the U.S. in 2019, according to Statistica. com.
Second-ranked Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, accounted for just 7% of EV sales, followed by a host of others, including Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Ford, Fiat, Kia, Hyundai, Subaru, Jaguar, Volvo, Chrysler, Mercedes, Porsche and Mini Cooper.
What Are the Global Market Projections for EVs?
The global EV market is projected to reach nearly 27 million in sales by 2030 — up from less than 3.3 million in 2019. That’s an annual growth rate of 21.1%.
Government policies, subsidies and grants, tax rebates and other nonfinancial benefits — such as special parking and car pool lane access for EVs — and new car registration (specifically in China where ICE engine new car registration are banned in some urban areas) the increasing vehicle range, better availability of charging infrastructure and proactive participation by automotive OEMs would drive the global electric vehicle sales.
What this means for the future of EVs is that what we’re likely to see amazing advances in technology and market share growth in the years ahead. Engineers are already working to create new breeds of EV batteries that will take only minutes to charge and allow cars and trucks to travel for months and cover thousands of miles between charges.
Industry leader Tesla has even created a prototype lithium-ion battery with a million-mile capacity. And while Tesla is the EV industry leader, most major global car brands have a “Tesla killer” in the works, on the road or on the way.
Paul has compared the automobile of today to the horse-and-buggy transportation system of the 1800s. It’s primed to be replaced by a new transportation system that’s fueled by electric, self-driving, internet-connected cars — a system that will completely change transportation and, in time, life as we know it.
Just to get a sense of car history, consider this: Nelson Jackson, Sewall Crocker and their dog, Bud, made the first successful transcontinental automobile trip in 1903.
Car technology was primitive. They relied on stagecoaches to ferry spare parts. At one point, a cow had to tow them. Another time, a team of horses had to be sent to get them out of a Vermont bog. The 4,500-mile journey took 63 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes.
Few then would have imagined what happened next. Incredibly, the U.S. went from 800 cars in 1900 to 458,500 in 1910, to 8.2 million cars by 1920, to 287.3 million registered U.S. vehicles in 2020. Globally, it’s more than 1.25 billion cars.
That’s an insane level of growth.
And over the next 30 years, EVs will rise ninefold and begin to dominate the global automobile market.
All of this will be driven by the renewable energy revolution.
Today, at $250 billion, the renewable energy market is small compared to the $7 trillion global energy markets, which are largely fueled by oil, gas, coal and nuclear.
But the world’s leading researchers project it will explode into a $51 trillion industry in the next few years, growing 12 times bigger than all old-world fuels combined.
If you’d like to know more about how the key mega trends at the heart of America 2.0 such as EVs will transform how we live, work and play — and the best ways to profit by investing in them today, click here.