WSJ Auto Critic: My Next Car will Be Electric

January 21, 2019

Above, Ben Van Beurden, CEO of Shell, volunteers that his next car will be an EV.

Below, Wall Street Journal auto critic says the same thing, and gives some eye popping reasons.
The wave is peaking and beginning to curl…


Pulitzer Prize–winning auto columnist Dan Neil recently discussed his next car in the Wall Street Journal — and it’s going to be electric. He writes, “This is above all a pocketbook issue for me. A gas-powered vehicle would be too expensive. I plan to keep my next vehicle 10 years, at least. Over that time, the cost of ownership for an EV, including fuel (on the order of a penny a mile for the electricity), repairs and maintenance would be considerably lower than comparable costs of an IC [internal-combustion] car.”

“My other big worry: resale value. In case you haven’t been following the news from the Paris climate talks, most nations of the world have put the IC vehicle under a death sentence. Post-Paris, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that there will be between 125 and 220 million EVs on the road by 2030,” reports Neil.

The writing is on the wall. According to Neil, “We are living through the S-curve of EV adoption. The total number of EVs on global roads surpassed 3 million in 2018, a 50% increase over 2016, according to the IEA. In November Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling small/midsize luxury sedan in the U.S; and Model S sales (26,700, year to date) outsold Mercedes-Benz S Class, BMW 6- and 7-Series, and Audi A8 combined, according to industry-tracker”

Neil says, “During the reasonable service life of any vehicle I buy today, I expect the demand for IC-powered vehicles will drop to practically zero, equivalent to the current market penetration of flip phones. No one will want them and there will be nowhere to get them fixed; by that time widespread fleet electrification will have cratered traditional dealerships that depend on service dollars to survive.”

Right now, “The Twilight of the IC engine is pretty awful, actually. All the technical gymnastics to reduce consumption and emissions from IC engines—stop-start, cylinder deactivation, CVT transmissions, high-strung turbos hooked up to small displacement motors—it all feels junky and compromising.”

What about a plug-in hybrid instead of an all-electric car? Neil says, “The steady improvement in lithium-ion batteries’ energy and power-density over cost will render the latest plug-in hybrids comically superfluous in a matter of years.”

And, “Internal combustion isn’t going to get any better. Last year the chief financial officer for Continental, the Tier 1 global automotive supplier, lit up the chat rooms with his prediction that IC development at the German carmakers will effectively end by 2023.”

Below, GM chair Mary Barra underlines the auto giant’s vision of an all electric future.

23 Responses to “WSJ Auto Critic: My Next Car will Be Electric”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Wouldn’t a wee bit of sugar in the tank do the trick? Or is that just a myth?

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Big Whoop! Van Beurden “volunteers” that his next car will be an EV (said in 2007—did he ever buy one?). He also volunteers that “liquid fuels” will “peak sometime in “the early 2030’s” (25 or so years in the future), and that “gas is a much longer lived form of petroleum” that Shell will be “moving into”. This is somehow good news for reducing CO2?

    Neil gets all enthusiastic about the fact that “the total number of EVs on global roads surpassed 3 million in 2018, a 50% increase over 2016”. Is Neil aware that there are over ONE BILLION vehicles on the road world-wide? Math lesson time (mainly for Sir Chucky who is more concerned about putting sugar in gas tanks than doing any kind of thinking)

    3,000,000 divided by 1,000,000,000+ = .003

    That means that 3 out of every 1000 cars on the planet is an EV.
    Another Big Whoop!

    As for “….estimates that there will be between 125 and 220 million EVs on the road by 2030,” reports Neil”, the total number of vehicles on the planet will likely reach 1.3 billion or more by 2030, since it it thought by some that it will reach 2 billion by 2040—-so, somewhere between 1/10 and 1/6 will be EVs—-the third Big Whoop to be awarded here.

    I often give Jeffy4Z a hard time, but he is right on with his rants about waking up and getting the job done NOW. EVs are not getting it done, nor is EcoQuacky’s refusal to look at how COAL is NOT going away fast enough, or his inability to look at population growth and energy use in CHINA and INDIA, as well as other projections dealt with in the WEF piece:

    “The global number of cars on the road and kilometers flown in planes will nearly double by 2040, according to a report released on Monday by research house Bernstein.

    “Cars are projected to reach the two billion mark by 2040, while air travel kilometers are set to hit 20 trillion in the same period.

    “Bernstein said it expects most of this transport growth to happen in emerging markets like China and India, as global populations are set to rise by another two billion over the next 25 years to 9.2 billion.

    “Growing GDP in those regions will increase demand for items once seen as luxuries, including automobiles and flights”.

  3. indy222 Says:

    EV’s are great, and I want one too…. but not enough to get rid of my old IC car when EV’s are so expensive and short-range so far. And I’m a “rich” American. I think as the load of debt, of climate crippling from “in the pipeline” damage unfolding, are all going to short circuit the vision of Wonderland. I hope not, but I don’t see any mention of the larger context of the economy and how things are going. This happy-talk just takes trends today and extrapolating them from the past. No brains needed there. Any high school senior could do it. Brains are needed to look at the non-linear 3-D chess of compounding climate damage, skyrocketing debt levels at private and governmental levels, and the rest… and convolving with these nice trends in EV’s.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      You can still buy a new Chevy Volt for under $17,000 at Quirk Chevy in Massachusetts. That price assumes the full $7500 Federal tax credit, but does not include any additional state and local credits you may receive.

      For about $5000 more you can get a Clarity Base model, or you can lease one for $2500 down (less your trade-in) and $187 a month.

      These are PHeV’s which get about 50 miles on a charge in the summer, and about 30 miles per charge in the cold winter. Plus they have an ICE so no range anxiety.

      That’s pretty cheap, considering.


    • dumboldguy Says:

      Ditto on all of that from indy. I’ll add that I’m also a “rich” American, long retired and don’t commute anymore or even drive that much. My old ICE’s are running just fine and cost me nothing but some repairs every once in a while. They don’t get great gas mileage, but it’s not that bad, and their manufacturing carbon footprint is far in the past.

      GB is again blinded by his unreasoning love for EV’s when he tries to talk to indy or I about “cheap”. First, the tax credit is expiring, and even if reinstated, the “drops to half” provision will impact anyone but the first 200,000 buyers of a model. Here in VA, we pay pretty big sales and licensing taxes on new vehicles (with $64 EXTRA for EV’s), plus annual personal property taxes of $42 per $1000 of assessed value. Anyone who has a good “old” car would be a fool to trade it for an EV just to be a bit “greener”.

      When you look at the fact that only 200,000 EV’s were sold in 2017 and not quite double that in 2018, while total vehicle sales were 17,500,000 in 2018, it appears that lots of folks are making that same choice.

      And of course, lower gas prices because of the Orange Menace’s love for fossil fuels and the easing of fuel economy standards help the MAGA Morons buy big pickups and SUV’s instead. Get real, GB.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        It’s not my fault you have to eat cat food and bbq centipedes to survive on a schoolteacher’s pension, dog. You knew what you were getting into. (deep deep doo-doo).

        The fact is a cheap Volt, as well as a cheap Clarity are cheap by today’s standard – less than the average new car, and perhaps less than the median?

        Besides, I’m the guy here who keeps screaming for increased RE subsidies. It would be money well spent to get recalcitrant Dinosaurs like you (and, until just recently, ME!) weaned off the petrochemicals to decarbonize the transpo sector. Increased RE subsidies means giving destitute curmudgeons MORE than 7500 bucks toward a new EV.

        I am saying that all explicit-like because I can tell you already lost interest in this conversation and are even now on the porch yelling at those effing kids about property boundaries.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Very funny, GB. I never went into education expecting to get rich, but working in Fairfax County VA, one of the wealthiest big counties in the nation, gave me a better pension than “cat food and bbq centipedes”. Those who hold my administrator’s position today top out at ~$140,000 a year, with other good benefits like generous vacation (five weeks a year + holidays) and sick leave, as well as subsidized health, disability, and life insurance. Had tenure too, so there was no chance of being downsized by some vulture capitalist. The pension plan was so good I retired at age 52-1/2. We eat out a lot, and I often get steak.

          Too bad you never looked into it. When I ran a Vocational Center here, I had a guy there teaching a photography course—-he worked an extra month beyond what an English teacher would to “prepare” the lab, and at the top would make about $120,000 today (with an MA). And he still had nights and weekends to work his outside photography business as well! And hired some of his best students to help him—they got OJT and made some bucks. Good deal for all. You could have afforded a nice big Cadillac Escalade and forgotten about puny “cheap” EV’s.

          As far as the rest of the conversation, I lost interest right after “The fact is a cheap Volt, as well as a cheap Clarity are cheap….” ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz……..!!!!!!

          You can call me “Dinosaur DOG”, D-DOG for short, if you want, but I will always fight excessive bright-sidedness and wishful thinking. Reread what indy and I said, and get real.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            So, if you have the money, why don’t you lease a Clarity or a Bolt? I know one household not using gasoline won’t make a huge difference, but when everybody does it, each contribution is the exact same size.

            Plus, it’s irrational, but it feels good to help. Plus, driving a PHeV on electric power is amazing. It is SO smooth and quiet and comfortable and easy it’s eerie.

            Not to mention all the gadgetry. I have a little thumbdrive inserted in a usb slot, and it holds hundreds of albums and books on tape with room to spare. And it sounds awesome through the stereo. You can hit a button the steering wheel and say “Play Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsys” – and it does!! Gobsmacked.

            That said – I understand your position completely – because I was in the exact same position. If the Gray Ghost had not literally been rusting apart I would still be driving it. On the other hand, the savings on gas pays a substantial percentage of the monthly lease.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            A lot of rationalization and wishful thinking there, GB. How many times must I say that things are going downhill so quickly that EV’s are not going to save us?—-not even close—-I’m sorry that you don’t want to face the reality that we are in a near hopeless planetary situation, and that my buying an EV will make NO difference, but that’s REALITY.

  4. mboli Says:

    I’m contemplating new-car time, looking at plug-in hybrids. Will there be replacement batteries using new technology a decade from now? Will an aging 30-mile battery be replaced with a newer 100-mile battery, thereby extending the life of the car? Or will it be replaceable with only a pitiful (by 2029 standards) 30 mile battery.
    Because that’s what happened with my aging 2nd gen Prius. When the battery finally kicked the bucket, at 11+ years, the only options were reconditioned batteries with aging cells or new cells that pretty much matched the original decade-old specs.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      This may be of interest to you 🙂 :

      • dumboldguy Says:

        That IS interesting, but still doesn’t answer mboli’s question. This “fix” used a reconditioned battery with only a 3 year warranty? For $1500? When will they come up with batteries that will exceed the “11 year old specs”?

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          “When will they come up with batteries that will exceed the “11 year old specs”?”

          Toyota? Prolly never. Not exactly on the foreskin of BEV tech. Plus, improved batteries in new versions of the model will likely not have the same form and won’t fit. And the computer chips would also need to be upgraded.

          So, renewing hybrid or PHeV battery packs will likely stay a 3rd party affair, in my not very well informed opinion. Btw, that 3 year warranty doesn’t mean the darned thing won’t last a lot longer, and by that point you have a 15-year old car.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Grasping at straws again? The lifespan of an ICE vehicle depends on good original design and careful manufacturing, care in maintaining it, how “hard” it’s used, and a lot of just plain LUCK.

            Batteries in EV’s just get used up, like tires. You get only so many cycles. Reconditioned batteries simply don’t last as long as new ones, and it would be nice if they came out with better new ones that last longer.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Here is a FACT: BEV’s don’t use gasoline. Not a single drop.

      The fact that the market share growth of electric vehicles is not fast enough doesn’t mean the tech won’t work, and doesn’t mean all is despair. It simply means we have to keep working to accelerate the market share growth.

      I would suggest government mandates and/or vastly increased government subsidies to electrify the transportation sector. (Not some fruity flavor of carbon tax.)

      • dumboldguy Says:

        You say BEV’s don’t use a single drop of FOSSIL FUEL (that’s what gasoline is)? But how about all the FOSSIL FUEL (like coal and natural gas) that is “used” to generate the electricity to charge them? Or in their manufacture? Or in the trucks that transport them to the dealer?

        And you’re babbling against carbon taxes again? Haven’t you read ANY of the great volumes of opinion that say a carbon tax is the ONLY way we’re going to get the world to move quickly on cutting CO2 emissions?

        Why do you keep making me repeat myself?
        “There are over ONE BILLION vehicles on the road world-wide? Math lesson time:
        3,000,000 divided by 1,000,000,000+ = .003
        That means that 3 out of every 1000 cars on the planet is an EV”

        You say “we have to keep working to accelerate the market share growth” (of EV’s). Yep, by waving our magic wands and chanting incantations—OR by instituting measures that will drive ALL forms of RE—like a carbon tax. Again, get real, GB.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          Now you are getting silly. A fleet of 100% BEV’s would get us very far toward our goal. And you bloody well know that the other part of that goal is to decarbonize the generation sector and the industrial sector. You are just engaging in denierish nay-saying here and it is depressing. Chew some Wellbutrin.

          As far as carbon taxes, if you can show me a SINGLE analysis of any real-world carbon tax that was *properly* controlled AND showed significant benefit of the tax to increase new RE deployment, I will eat my hat and trousers, and poop out embroidered gold doubloons.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Of course a 100% EV’s would help greatly, and decarbonizing generation would also, BUT IT’S JUST NOT HAPPENING FAST ENOUGH!

            There’s no denier nay-saying involved in accepting the reality of the figures. 3 out of every 1000 vehicles on the planet is an EV, and that number is going up too slowly. Fossil fuel use is going UP worldwide, and coal use is declining only slowly. The Chinese are in fact building $35 billion worth of coal generating plants in other countries around the world.

            The carbon tax to date may not show much impact on RE deployment, but, to repeat, it is the ONLY hope we have in this market-driven profit-seeking world of getting things off center.

            YOU are the one who needs the Wellbutrin, not me. Eating hats and trousers is one thing, but anyone who talks of “pooping out embroidered gold doubloons” is definitely overreving the old brain. .

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Not quite great, but pretty good (in spite of some glaring shortcomings). Still doesn’t answer the question of HOW we are going to get the entire planet moving, particularly the big emitters who are still digging coal, pumping oil, and piping and liquefying natural gas. Oh, wait, speaking of “financial sense”, there’s that thing called “a price on carbon” that might do the job. Otherwise known by the name that must not be uttered or GB starts pooping doubloons. Hmmmmmm.

  5. […] via WSJ Auto Critic: My Next Car will Be Electric — Climate Denial Crock of the Week […]

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