HomeCar CultureCommentaryThere’s a long road yet to electric cars

There’s a long road yet to electric cars

It could be decades before voltage vehicles dominate our streets


With the rise of Tesla sales and stock values, and newcomer hydrogen/electric truck manufacturer Nikola that has just gained a market value of $26 billion without producing anything but a prototype, industry CEOs and many on Wall Street continue to see electric cars as a hot opportunity.

But according to GM’s CEO and a Yahoo Finance analyst, “it could be decades” before electric dominance will become prevalent on our streets.

Electric vehicles represent only 1 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States. The technology is still costly. But supporters are hopeful that more companies like Nikola will get in the game. The latest round of funding for the upstart would-be truck manufacturer has some fearing, however, that this could be similar to the tech bubble of the late 1990s and early 2000s, which burst and caused a lot of financial havoc.

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, believes in the technology, but she realistically does not see electric dominance on America’s roads inside of 30 years. Barra told Bloomberg, “We believe the transition will happen over time.” When asked if it could happen in the next 20 years, she said, “It will happen in a little bit longer period, but it will happen.”

The Nikola Badger, available in Hydrogen fuel cell or electric will begin taking orders June 29, 2020 | Nikola Motor photo

Nikola Motor Company, an Arizona startup, made its debut as a publicly traded company on June 4. Pre-manufacture reservations, set for June 29, have created a frenzy in the marketplace. People are reported to be lining up to buy the hydrogen fuel cell/electric pickup truck, known as the Badger, that by design is meant to compete with the Ford F-150.

“Reservations, or pre-orders, will open June 29 for the hydrogen-electric pickup truck known as the Badger,” Nikola Motor founder and chairman Trevor Milton tweeted Tuesday.

According to TechCrunch, “Nikola’s initial focus has been to design, develop and eventually produce hydrogen-electric Class 8 trucks and build out hydrogen station infrastructure throughout North America. Since its founding in 2014, the company has expanded its hydrogen-electric vision to powersports and more recently to pickup trucks. The company shared in February the first details about the Badger pickup truck, which will be available as a battery electric or fuel-cell vehicle.”

Nikola plans on only developing trucks, from pickups to eighteen-wheelers, and the market has paid attention. The ambitious company recently merged with SJ Girsky & Co, founded by GM board member and former Morgan Stanley banker Steve Girsky, who was instrumental in rescuing GM from bankruptcy.

But despite all these power brokers backing the push for electric vehicles, the reality is that where the rubber meets the road, it remains a virtual anomaly. “These are laptop batteries all tied together,” said Rick Newman of Yahoo Finance.

The costs associated with the batteries, vehicle manufacturing, and the infrastructure still needing to be built to support the cars, plays into the hands of the internal combustion engine. Which, as noted above, still sells 99-1.

Then consider how long the national fleet stays on the road. That alone puts the marketplace out 20 years. Barra is most likely correct. Most of you worrying about electric car dominance: it probably won’t be in our lifetimes. So, go burn some rubber after filling up!

Tom Stahler
Tom Stahler
Tom Stahler is the Managing Editor of the ClassicCars.com Journal. Tom has a lifelong love of cars and motor racing – beginning with the 1968 USRRC race at Road America, in a stroller, at eight months of age. His words, photos and broadcasts can can be found on a myriad of media. He has won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and a Gold Medal in the International Automotive Media Awards.


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