Quora: A Ford technician stated that electric vehicles will always be a niche product, do you agree or disagree and why?


The following is my answer to the above question on Quora:

I’m assuming that by “technician” you mean “mechanic” and that this person works for a Ford dealership. Thus that person’s experience and expectation are different than would be, say, someone like myself who spends his time looking at the industry on the whole.

The Ford tech probably will lose most of his or her job description if most vehicles are made to be fully electric (battery or fuel cell, for example). Further, that person is only seeing and hearing what sales folks and the like are saying on the sales floor. My experience has been that most automotive salespeople have no idea what’s happening in the industry and are often badly versed in the products they do deal with. A salesperson’s job is not to know the product (contrary to what we might think) or to understand the industry. A salesperson’s job is to get people to buy product. That’s it.

As it is, electric cars are definitely going to become a large portion of the automotive market. The question is when, not if. Many are bullish on how fast this transition will occur. I’m not so much.

The industry is a long-thinking one, looking ahead by decades, not years. Cost parities, where an EV and a gasoline vehicle are roughly the same cost to produce and buy, are coming soon. Perhaps in the next decade. That will solve problem one.

Problem two is convincing the general public to purchase an EV instead of a well-understood, commonly-known gasoline option. That will take a little longer. Perhaps 20 years, or about a generation. Kids growing up today will see gasoline vehicles as the norm for most of their lives into adulthood. They are most likely going to see combustion vehicles as the “reliable” option because they know and understand them. This is one of the primary reasons most automakers have been going with hybrids and plug-ins rather than full battery electrics; people understand hybrids better than they understand a BEV.

My grandkids, however, are only a generation away. They will be much more open to the idea of buying an EV as their only vehicle or as a primary driver. So 20–30 years hence, the problem of public perception will be solved.

The third issue will be capability. That will likely resolve itself inside the 30 year span I’ve given. We should see standard EVs of every shape and size in all consumer automotive markets within that thirty years. All with at least 300 miles of range per charge and fast charging times (under 10 minutes). Our only speculation there will be what the tech will be.

My long-standing prediction for electric vehicles to be a sizeable chunk of the automotive market, as much as 50 percent, has been 2050. I don’t yet see any reason to change that prediction.