The One Thing That Could Kill The Electric Vehicle

We’re seeing the electric car zeitgeist ramping up. Tesla just overtook Audi as the number four top-selling luxury brand. And registrations of EVs are rising. Jaguar announced yesterday it will produce only electric Jags by 2025. Yet, with all of this momentum moving the electric vehicle forward there is one thing that could kill it off.

“We don’t have the electric infrastructure to handle a sudden increase in EV adoption”

Electric Car
Electric Car | Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images

That one thing is we don’t have the electric infrastructure to handle a sudden increase in EV adoption. Even Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda said it just yesterday. He said if the electric vehicle is adopted too fast there won’t be the energy to support them. He predicted that if Japan banned all gas-powered vehicles today it would run out of electricity by summer. 

But that’s not all. He stated further that rushing the transition to EVs means that “the current business model of the auto industry is going to collapse.” And showing how vulnerable the current state of the electric grid is we need to look no further than the largest producer of electricity and what is happening right now. 

Texas is the largest producing state for electricity and a lot of its major cities have had power outages. Of course, this is due to the snow and ice storms that ravaged the state yesterday. But it gives a clear indication that a surge in the use of electricity can bring down the country’s largest electricity-producing state. 

Right now blackouts are the solution as electric companies grapple

New York blackout
The sun sets behind 42nd Street in Manhattan during a power outage in New York City on July 13, 2019 | Getty

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And it isn’t isolated to Texas. Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and parts of Iowa are seeing large blackouts as electric companies grapple with the increase in usage. Granted, this is an exceptional weather event with extremely cold temperatures, but with a sudden surge in electricity usage, the grid has collapsed. 

In many cases, electricity-generating equipment shut down from the cold. It was a massive case of equipment failure. Once reserves were depleted transmission providers were asked to turn off large business users. But it wasn’t too long after that when things deteriorated and the blackouts began. So far millions of homes are without power during a single-digit temperature event. 

Elon Musk said electricity consumption would double once EVs become common

New York blackout
Radio City Music Hall is seen during a major power outage on July 13, 2019, in New York City | Getty

Toyoda is not the only one ringing the warning bell. Elon Musk said in December that electricity consumption would double once the electric vehicle becomes more common. We rely more and more on electricity. Our smart homes and smart cities will rely on electricity in ways that have never existed before. 

Some solutions like ride-sharing may ease the demand. Rather than owning a car, we would just borrow one from companies like Facedrive. But most adopters will opt for ownership. With morning and evening commutes to and from work, what will surges look like at those peak times? Can our electric infrastructure handle this kind of scenario? 

Rolling blackouts during peak summer months are the norm

major blackout
The city lit solely by antennas atop buildings and vehicle headlights, during a massive blackout | Getty

Charging stations are being installed in mass so those companies are building up that portion of the electric future. And car companies are putting their all behind electric vehicle production. How are electric companies preparing for this EV onslaught? Rolling blackouts during peak summer months are becoming the norm in the west and south. Now rolling blackouts are the only solution to the surge in demand in Texas this week.

Is this how electric companies deal with demand, by limiting the supply? This will inhibit or even kill off consumers. Whether by wind, solar, or even nuclear, there needs to be a surge in electricity production with the surge in EV usage. Let’s just hope it comes soon enough.