I am constantly amazed by watching the auto industry rush headlong into an abyss of electric cars while consumers have no idea it's just around the corner.
I have little doubt that electric vehicles are coming, if for no other reason than most of the world is putting lots of pressure on governments to lower emissions and adopt EVs.
It does not take a lot of observation to realize that China is leading the way.
I suppose China can mandate EVs overnight, but the Chinese are still going to have to figure out what to do with the millions of internal combustion engines still in use. They can scrap the cars and, more importantly, the trucks — but it will take quite a while.
Meanwhile, everyone is looking at Norway as the poster boy with its high EV adoption rate. It may well be a case of successful adoption — but in a very small market.
We have a lot of manufacturers rushing to convert operations to EV production without telling the millions of consumers and thousands of dealers — especially in the U.S. — what exactly they are planning.
We have hundreds of millions of cars and trucks running all over the U.S. with owners who have no intention of replacing their vehicles anytime soon, regardless of what companies and governments might be suggesting. So, yes, we will see many thousands of EVs with their chargers dotting the landscape. But keep in mind: That will be thousands of electrics in a land of millions of vehicles.
The real question should be whether the auto companies can survive a global conversion to electricity when there will be millions of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles with owners saying quietly and politely, "No, thanks, I will stick with my gasoline vehicle." They might convert to electricity eventually. But it will take many years, and I am not sure that the car companies have the fortitude to hold on for a decades-long conversion.
I know plenty of zealots, particularly among the media, who are devoted EV fans. I can only tell them, as with autonomous vehicles, be patient. This is not a sprint but a marathon, and it will take a very long time in a country with so many vehicles. It may well happen, but chances are very good that none of us will be around to see it.
Maybe fuel cells could be the answer for cleaner air and a less-hot environment, but do not bet on it.
Internal combustion engines have more than a 100-year head start. It will take a long time to replace all those vehicles.
It will happen, slowly over time. But don't sell your car anytime soon — it isn't a buggy whip.
Just be very patient.