Cautionary Progress

With more and more car companies adopting electric models, we’re looking at a future that phases out gasoline and diesel in the same way that these fuels phased out steam-power. We’ve fought wars for fossil-fuels. Even this past year in the United States, the Dakota Access Pipeline has brought on many civil rights groups and activism to defend the right to live free of contamination. Americans have killed thousands upon thousands in order to maintain this resource, and now we’re on the cusp of creating a world where it it’s better put to use for starting fires than it is for running cars. Many major countries are aiming to eliminate fossil-fuel-vehicles by 2040. Previously, it was only cars that could be even hybrid, let alone fully-electric. That changed this past year, when BMW unveiled that it would be building a hybrid motorcycle known as the R1200 GS xDrive Hybrid. This will be the first hybrid motorcycle to reach a consumer market (and the first I’ve heard of any company building at all). This is still a hybrid and does’t guarantee a market for the fully electric model. So what do we know of the fully electric vehicle? Well, there’s Elon Musk’s Tesla for one.

While Tesla has not been turning profits since 2013 when they had their first profitable quarter in ten years, the company is still on many investors top lists. Despite not turning any noticeable profits since then, the company has been pulling in tons of revenue and Musk is planning to have fleets of Model S’s (their new sedan) set for the $35,000 vehicle mark. Pricey, but worthwhile. In the United States we offer tax credits to people who buy Electric Vehicles, with Tesla netting you a whopping $7,500 (the maximum possible is $7,500). So what’s to stop new drivers from switching to an Electric Vehicle? Using these vehicles doesn’t mean you can just plug into any outlet in your home. Sure, you no longer need to perform oil-changes, change engine fluids, or any of the other maintenance in relation to fossil-fuel-vehicle, but you will need a charger. You’ll need to ensure you’re doing proper battery maintenance, keep your battery levels appropriate for the distances you’re traveling, and ensure that there are stations along the way for your longer trips (not to mention waiting for your vehicle to charge on said trips).

Now, I’m not attempting to advocate for fossil-fuels in any way. If anything, I’m a huge fan of what Tesla is doing and cannot wait to drive my own Tesla sedan someday (long before 2040 I hope). The problem isn’t what EV’s will be bringing to the automotive industry, but what they will be taking from it. When we move to an Exclusively-Electric-Vehicle model, the entire Gasoline and oil industry will take a severe step back (or possibly dissolve entirely). A survey covered by the guardian back in January of 2016 shows that Solar has exceeded Oil in the total number of people employed. This survey only covers the USA, so calling it globally representative would be inacurate but it does help put things in perspective. The more important thing to think of is how many nations depend on oil as a resource in order to maintain trade and revenue. In that case, what does the Fully-Electric model spell for them?

When we jump (WHEN, not IF) we’ll need to ensure we’re creating a market for all these people to be employed in. Every single gas station you’ve ever seen will eventually close down for the sake of charging stations. Every single fossil-fuel-vehicle mechanic and repair shop will be unemployed if they don’t move forward and learn these new vehicles. Every scent of gasoline and that older car smell will be a memory and people will actually grow up in a world where they don’t know what a car engine turning on sounds like. These are things that will occur that we haven’t considered, along with millions of jobs that need to be replaced in order to maintain the societal norm when we shift away from Fossil-fuel-vehicles. It’s easy to say this is the right choice, but it’s harder to do it the right way. When we do shift, we will need to ensure that most (if not all) of the gasoline/oil industries move into positions which allow them to prosper. Multiple corporations which have been long-standing will need to change not just the way they operate, but also the product and methods by which they sell. We aren’t just talking about upgrading a technology, we’re talking about actually revolutionizing human transportation on a scale we have not ever seen before. Steam did not employ people on the scale that oil does. The invention of the fossil-fuel-vehicle created new jobs, there was a creation of a market without the destruction of another.

Again, I am not calling for us to halt on Fully-Electric vehicles. This is just a call to start the conversations we need to be having if we intend to be Fully-Electric nations by 2040. It will take us another 23 years to reach that point, and we need to ensure that we do not create a vacuum of employment for the working class when we do. I can’t say I’m too sympathetic for the corporate level oil-industry, however they too will need to be employed should they not wish to retire. Try talking to your fellow car-fans about these ideas and see what comes to mind! Seek out ideas and ways that will help to bolster the solar industry and employ the fading fossil-fuel industries. Instead of creating a void in our world, we should be moving towards this as the beautiful upgrade it really is. I hope this helped you to think more on the premise of Electric Vehicles from a perspective you may not have considered. If so, please leave a comment and continue the discussion! I’ll be sure to reply and keep the conversation going with you all.