Weekly Digest #81
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In this digest-
1. Say Watt?
2. Happiness Quotient From Around The World
3. Did You Know?
4. Entertainment Quotient
By: Agastya Rao
There was once a time when people didn’t trust electricity and a time when they shunned electric vehicles. Well, this is changing, for the better. With new electric car companies coming up every year (Notable examples being Rivian and Lucid Motors) and newsworthy instances like Tesla gaining a market valuation of $1 Trillion US Dollars in 2021, it seems like we are in for the start of an “Electric Age.”
Tesla delivered over 900,000 cars in 2021, with 310,000 Teslas sold in the first Six months of 2021, with more than 120,000 sold in California alone (For reasons you will see later in the article).
Well, you get the point- Electric Vehicles are getting popular, and not just in the USA, but worldwide. This begs the question – are we ready to transform entirely to electric vehicles? (and if yes, should we?)
Types of Electric Vehicles-
Before we get into why electric vehicles have become popular, we need to understand the 3 major types of electric vehicles (“EVs”) that are currently available:
1. Plug-In Hybrid EVs- These electric vehicles are ones that use petrol/diesel but also use battery powered electricity. Electricity is also used to run the car. These come with both electric L2 charging ports and fuel ports.
2. Battery Electric Vehicles- These are solely powered by the battery which is charged by a charger.
3. Hybrid Electric Vehicles- These are powered by petrol/diesel but electricity assists in powering the car, however these run mainly on conventional fuel and cannot be charged by a charge. This does keep emissions low.
Why have EV’s risen in popularity?
In the quest for clean energy, electric vehicles have become a key part in preventing climate change. Now it's not just companies that are promoting electric vehicles, but various countries’ governments as well. It seems that the entire world has been gripped by “electric car fever”. According to me there are 3 key reasons for this popularity:
1. Climate Friendly
The first option, and the most cliché, but logical, is that EVs are climate friendly. This is an age where there is enough awareness about the planet to make more and more people climate-conscious in their lifestyle choices. From switching to turning vegan or eating less meat, to decreasing/stopping the use of single-use plastic, it is a welcome development to see people changing their ways, for the better.
One of these instances includes buying electric cars. People consider them far more climate-friendly than your regular diesel or petrol cars. I'm assuming that this may make people feel better about themselves while they are at it. I am not saying that people buy them to feel better about themselves, but it could be a major contributing factor (and the earth is definitely not complaining about this happy side-effect).
To make a long story short, electric vehicles are more climate friendly than vehicles powered by petrol or diesel, which helps the Earth, and is a major factor to add value to the idea of buying an electric car.
2. They are “in trend”-
Now this may not be the most practical or “scientific” reason in support of electric vehicles, but I believe that being trendy is a major reason behind buying electric cars.
I mean, people make heads turn driving their new electric ford mustang. I would go as far as to say that electric cars are the new Ferraris. More people are buying Teslas and various electric sports cars and other cars because they are popular. The fact that so many YouTubers and celebrities have purchased the Tesla Model X has added to their popularity.
3. Cost effective
Another major factor for people buying electric vehicles boils down to the essential aspect of the cost. Electric cars generally have lower fuel and maintenance costs. Sure, the overall average upfront cost of an Electric vehicle may be around 50,000 US Dollars, but CNBC reported that electric car users spend an average of 60% less than the average “regular” car user. In fact, servicing costs of electric trucks and cars are an average of 30% lower than similar petrol/diesel cars, due to lesser parts to be replaced.
Another important factor that brings their costs down is the tax deduction provided by Governments of various countries on the purchase of electric cars. The most popular among them being various tax deductions or rebates such as the CVRP or the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program which is applicable in the state of California in the USA, which offers a deduction of up to US$ 7000 on the purchase/lease on an electric vehicle via rebates.
The State of California also has a Clean Fuel Reward which can provide savings of up to $750 on the lease/purchase of an electric vehicle eligible for the criteria.
The Big Players - Electric Vehicle Companies (Tesla, Rivian, Lucid, GM…)
i) The number 1 and most popular EV maker has to be- TESLA.
The common misconception about Tesla is that it was founded by Elon Musk. However, it was actually started by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. They received funding to the tune of US$ 30 Million from Elon Musk at the start. They first released an Electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster.
The company later had an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and have since released 4 models of cars. The company, now headed by Musk, recently hit a valuation of over US$ 1 trillion and is one of the most successful car and electric car companies ever.
ii) Rivian- Compared to Tesla, Rivian is a fairly new company. Rivian is owned in part by Amazon, who hold a 20% stake in the company. Ford Motors also own some stake in the company.
(Photo Credit- The Verge)
Originally started in 2009 by Mr RJ Scaringe, a graduate of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) they recently had an IPO which valued
them at over US$100 Billion.
Scaringe had originally envisioned an idea for an electric sports car, but later changed the idea to that of an electric SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle and Pick Up Truck. While their stock has dropped in recent times, they are seen as a viable competitor to Tesla in the future.
iii) Lucid Motors- Next up are up and coming company Lucid. Lucid is notable as the biggest possible competitor to Tesla, with their first car, the Lucid Air being seen as a direct competitor to the Tesla Model S.
(Photo credit- Wired.com)
(Lucid Air just beat the Tesla Model S’ mileage by roughly 160 KM, by clocking out at a mileage of a shocking about 830 kilometres)! Lucid is also taking the electric car market by storm, with a niche in the market focusing on being a “luxury” electric car maker.
Lucid has only recently begun delivering cars, but it seems to have a promising future. The next Mercedes Benz of Electric cars, perhaps?
iv) Lastly, there are a whole bunch of companies like General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen which have or will soon be releasing electric cars. I haven’t included them in the list because they are mostly non-electric car makers or are still in the developmental phase.
What about Petrol and Diesel Cars- The Electric conversion by GM, Ford, Mustang, Jaguar.
Now that Electric Cars are becoming popular, will traditional car makers become obsolete? Well, not really but there is a slight possibility of them becoming obsolete. Most car makers are now planning to adapt and slowly phase out their current petrol and diesel cars, over the next 10-20 years. Many companies have been releasing electric versions of existing cars in an attempt to adapt.
Good examples of this are Ford, who released an electric version of their Ford Mustang car, and Jaguar who released an all-electric car called the Jaguar I Pace. South Korean car maker Hyundai have already released an electric car called the Hyundai Kona and are slated to release another all-electric car in 2022 called the IONIQ 5.
These examples do demonstrate that car manufacturers are ready and in fact are slowly but steadily making the transition towards hybrid and fully electric cars. In fact, Jaguar has announced that they will sell only electric cars from 2025, and Volvo shall sell only electric cars from 2030.
But are companies taking a turn to only electric cars too early? I would say that 2025 is a little too early to switch to an all-electric business model, but somewhere around 2030 would be a good time to switch to an all-electric model, as petrol and diesel cars are soon to be phased out, first by hybrids, and then by all electric cars.
Any downsides to electric cars?
Yes, there are a few downsides to electric cars.
1. The time factor: Electric cars take a considerable amount of time to charge. The time it takes to fully charge an electric car isn’t exactly fast, which means if your car doesn’t have any charge, you can’t just hop in it and drive off as you would in a diesel/petrol car.
2. Lack of chargers- While electric car chargers are scattered across the USA and a bunch of other countries, they haven’t exactly spread across the whole world to make them as accessible as a petrol pump. And yes, while this will obviously improve over the next few years, it would still be quicker to fill your car up with petrol and drive off rather than wait for a 30 minutes to an hour for your car to charge.
As CNBC reported, there are 46,000 commercial charging stations as opposed to the 150,000 fuel stations in the USA.
Electric Vehicles Scams- The Case of NIKOLA-
Electric vehicles have their fair share of scams, the biggest one being the scam of NIKOLA, an electric truck maker. Nikola was an electric truck making startup which was sued by the SEC (Securities and Exchanges Commission) and was made to pay US$ 125 Million to settle a case of defrauding investors.
They defrauded investors and raised more than US$ 500 Million after claiming that they made their own hydrogen fuels and received billions of dollars’ worth of orders for their trucks.
Their fraud continued with their promotional video where they showed their truck powered by hydrogen cells moving, when it was later discovered that it was in fact, just rolling down a hill. They clearly made fools out of everyone, as General Motors was about to invest more than US$ 2 Billion for a stake in the company. Since the level of awareness about new technology is not widespread, such scams are a cautionary tale.
EVs and India- the MG and Kia Story
In the last few years, India has become one of the hottest markets for electric cars. Electric car companies have risen in India the past few years. With companies like Morris Garages (MG) and Kia releasing Electric vehicle hybrids and all electric vehicles in the past few years with great success, the Electric vehicle market in India has become incredibly promising.
MG sold over 40,000 units of their cars in India last year and their sales have gone up by 43% from 2020 to 2021. While other electric car makers are slowly making their way to the Indian market, the future of electric vehicles in India is promising!
Electric Scooters- The Indian Story
All this time, we have been talking about electric cars, but we forgot a very new and exciting component of electric vehicles - electric scooters - which are becoming increasingly popular in India. Ather has released affordable electric scooters called the 450 X which has been met with interest. Ather has also received an investment of $56 Million from Hero MotoCorp, for a roughly 30% stake in the company, showing the promise of future growth in this market.
Another similar product coming soon is the Ola electric S1 scooter which has also captured the interest of the market. It is noteworthy that electric scooters are still testing uncharted waters, but public reception has been promising for them.
What the future holds…
Electric vehicles are becoming more popular and more advanced by the day. With electric vehicles moving from cars to trucks to scooters, who knows what the future has in store for electric vehicles? Perhaps very soon we will have fully electric boats. What we do know is that electric vehicles have a shot at stopping or at least decreasing/preventing climate change. If we have a chance to save the planet, why shouldn’t we take it?
HAPPINESS QUOTIENT FROM AROUND THE WORLD
By: Mihir Rao
DID YOU KNOW?
Entertainment quotient for the week:
One of us is lying (14+)
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