When you talk about disruption, nothing seems to approach the electrification of the automobile, at least in the short term.
There have been plenty of government mandates over the years that have made the auto manufacturers squirm, including emissions standards, safety regulations and corporate average fuel economy. But nothing any country has tried — or any group of countries have tried collectively — will be more disruptive than electric vehicles.
I agree with those who are convinced that current batteries simply don't hold enough energy for long-distance travel or convenient refueling. There will be better and less expensive solutions in the future.
Meanwhile, if governments are successful in force-feeding electrification, we will see some companies slowly go out of business. Whether you make pistons, valves, camshafts or any of the hundreds of parts for an internal combustion engine, your business will diminish, regardless of the consumer's desires.
Another industry will also be slowly and painfully diminished — travel. Resorts that relied on automobiles to deliver tourists will see fewer customers because battery-powered vehicles simply will not have the range to allow for family vacations. All sorts of businesses along the nation's interstate system will have to deal with a reduced number of travelers spending money at their facilities.
After a few decades, the auto industry may be able to bring to market a more sophisticated source of electricity for vehicles, but nothing is on the horizon for the short term.
Automobile manufacturers are investing billions of dollars in electrification, perhaps to satisfy potential government edicts. Countries such as China can mandate radical change overnight, even though the future of the electric vehicle is unknown.
But the world's customers have not yet spoken, and the consequences, whether the move to electrification succeeds or fails, are enormous. Countries and automakers are not just betting their farms, but lots of farms they don't even own.