TO THE EDITOR:
If the oil giants feel "threatened" by electric vehicles and are investing to install chargers, they have only themselves to blame ("Oil giants, threatened by EV era, set sights on chargers," March 4). Their future is a permanent per-capita decline in U.S. demand by 2050.
By then, probably half of U.S. vehicles will be EVs — and either the oil industry creates the national network of charging units, or EV manufacturers do. By my estimate, the upfront capital costs, given the oil giants' inertia, could climb to $2 trillion — and they won't know if their costs can be recaptured until "EV economics" are established.
This is what the Ford Model T did with gasoline in 1908 while oil companies clung to a horse-age mindset: There was no mass market for a low-priced car; the horse already owned the nonrail individual transport market; and the horse was cheaper.
It took oil companies until 1914 to grasp that Ford had changed their world and that they could spend the money to serve the new market — or else. In a speech in 1999, I warned that oil companies that wanted to survive would need to build networks selling every fuel form.
Gas, hydrogen, hybrids and all-electrics have to fight each other for survival, much less dominance. But it was steam vs. electricity vs. gasoline from 1895 to 1925; gasoline's economics weren't fully "known" until steam and electricity lost the battle.
NORMAN P. HIGBY, President,WMP Forecasts, Menlo Park, Calif.