The auto industry, with the help of some national governments around the world, is rapidly plunging into a massive bet on vehicle electrification with little or no consumer demand.
Now I can understand why China has a few hundred electric vehicle manufacturers, given that the Chinese government can decide to switch to EVs overnight and put all gasoline-vehicle companies out of business in a flash. But it would appear that even China will have to worry about having fossil-fueled vehicles for commercial shipping.
Some other national governments seem to be taking a more measured approach and are talking about eliminating gasoline-powered vehicles after a decade or longer — certainly enough time to see how the public reacts to EVs and whether there is demand without government subsidies.
Meanwhile, many manufacturers around the world are rushing headlong into a new and unproven market.
Consumers may embrace EVs, and everything will be fine as new companies are formed and others go out of business. Only time will establish winners and losers, and let us hope that the marketplace decides, not big governments around the world.
The stakes are very high, and if a car company makes the wrong bet, it could go out of business or shrink.
The irony is that although a shift to EVs will require a large change in business practices, automobile retailers would seem to be in a position to survive intact.
No one knows what lies ahead, but it seems that many car companies are willing to bet the farm, so to speak, with their commitment to electrification, happy to risk everything on a technology that consumers have not yet supported in large numbers.
We have seen some success with Tesla's and General Motors' EVs, but that is a long way from the millions of gasoline vehicles sold nowadays.
I would think that a more cautious approach would make more sense. I am surprised that more companies have not adopted a more moderate strategy.
Maybe they know something that the rest of the world doesn't.