TO THE EDITOR:
Huge auto companies aren’t just betting on customer demand for electric vehicles, they are watching it happen (“What if they are wrong?” Keith Crain, Jan. 22). Look at Tesla’s Model S — it is now the best-selling vehicle in its segment, and it beats the likes of luxury flagships Mercedes S class and BMW 7 series. Additionally, over 400,000 people plopped down $1,000 to stand in line for the Tesla Model 3. If these examples don’t show demand, I don’t know what does. Adoption of battery-electric vehicles may be slow to start, but I implore you to investigate the exponential adoption of disruptive technologies in years past — see the S-curve.
A fundamental point about autonomous vehicles was also missed: Few consumers will actually own a fully autonomous vehicle. Rather than have to own and maintain a depreciating asset that sits 95 percent of the time, consumers will turn to on-demand ride-hailing. Fleet operators of autonomous vehicles will certainly choose the three times efficient and cheaper-per-mile electric powertrain, lest they want to go out of business maintaining the internal combustion engine.
Those taking a modest path and only focusing on traditional products are setting themselves up to go the way of horse carriage manufacturers, typewriter companies, Kodak, Nokia or Blockbuster. Remember, “Not all fossils are in the fuel” (ex-oil Maurice Strong), and firms hampered by old ways of thinking won’t be a problem “because they simply won’t be around long-term” (ex-DuPont, Edgar Woolard).
STEVEN SHERMAN, Ann Arbor, Mich. The writer is an engineer in the energy and environment fields.