What’s Holding Electric Cars Back? The Cost of Batteries. And Tesla’s About to Fix That.
Self-described Tesla fanboy Vivek Wadhwa predicts that Elon Musk's car company will re-invent the battery industry by the end of the decade.
Vivek Wadhwa is a Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering. He is a globally syndicated columnist for The Washington Post and author of The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future; The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent, which was named by The Economist as a Book of the Year of 2012; and of Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology, which documents the struggles and triumphs of women. Wadhwa has held appointments at Duke University, Stanford Law School, Harvard Law School, Emory University, and Singularity University. You can follow him on Twitter @wadhwa.
Vivek Wadhwa: I call myself a Tesla fanboy. I've been driving a Tesla for a year. It's to the point that I can't drive regular vehicles anymore. If you recall the first time you got an iPod, it was amazing wasn't it? You went from a cassette player to this amazing little device on which everything was "solid state.” You remember solid-state electronics and so on? But this amazing advance we saw in technology, that's what it feels like to drive a Tesla.
I call it a spaceship that travels on land. No gears, no bumps; you step on the accelerator, the car literally flies and it flies so fast that when my wife is sitting with me, she complains, “Vivek, we just had dinner. Please, I'm going to throw up if you go like that.” Because it feels like you're getting into warp speed. The car literally, seamlessly picks up torque like you wont believe and flies. This is the future of the transportation industry that we're going to have clean vehicles that fly. That's the magic of electric.
Now what's holding back this industry is the cost of batteries. Knowing Elon Musk, he's going to far exceed his anticipated 30 percent savings by 2017. I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of this decade we're talking about batteries costing a fifth as much as they do today; if not a fifth, maybe a third, which means that it becomes more economical to produce electric, clean vehicles which are like spaceships then to deal with the filthy internal combustion engines that we're dealing with right now — these machines that we put that horrible liquid into, that explosive liquid called petroleum, and then you have to load them up with that black viscous liquid called oil, pollute the environment. These cars are as clunky as hell.
Those internal combustion engines, it's time for them to go. We need to replace them with electric engines, and this is why I've become such a Tesla fanboy because it's the first real electric vehicle that is better than anything else ever made.
Why does self-described Tesla fanboy Vivek Wadhwa like Elon Musk's car company so much? Because it's not just a car company. As we explored last week, Tesla is gearing to make a major announcement this week that could spark a reinvention of the battery industry. The reason Wadhwa loves Tesla so much is because its technology blows away everything we've ever seen before.
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