DETROIT – Not all electric-vehicle buyers are environmentally conscious.
For example, there’s that Uber driver in Atlanta who took ADS-TEC Energy CEO Thomas Speidel for a ride.
He drove a Toyota Prius hybrid electric vehicle. “He said his next car would be a Tesla 3,” recalls Speidel, who had assumed the driver was a “greenie” who wanted a zero-emissions battery-electric vehicle.
But Speidel was wrong.
Instead, the driver said, “I don’t give a darn about the environment. I’m interested in the lower cost of vehicle ownership that comes with having an EV.”
Presumably, if it cost less to own, he’d buy a coal-burning vehicle. (They actually made those at one time.)
The anecdote illustrates a couple of points. One, people buy vehicles for different reasons.
Two, EVs are less expensive to maintain because they contain fewer parts than internal- combustion vehicles and electricity costs less than gasoline. At least for now.
Speidel spoke about transitioning from internal-combustion engines to EVs at the recent Automotive USA 2024 conference hosted by Reuters.
“There are unlimited opportunities in an EV world,” says Speidel, whose company focuses on battery storage and charging platforms. “The dream can come true.”
He says the cost-effectiveness of an EV will become readily apparent when recharging networks are fully developed and ubiquitous.
“Chargers can be everywhere,” Speidel says, foreseeing the possibility of some places even offering complimentary charging.
“If you go into a building, do you pay to use the elevator? Use the restroom? Recharge your phone?”
So, Speidel posits, why should companies charge fees to visitors to recharge their EVs parked outside?
Regardless of the status of charging infrastructure, many automakers are all-in with EVs. Mercedes-Benz is among them.
“The change to electric vehicles for us is not a question of if but when,” says conference panelist Magnus Ostberg, chief software engineer for Mercedes-Benz R&D. He adds that the ICE-to-EV pivot is the most transformative period of transportation since vehicles replaced horses.
“How do you support and accelerate that?” he says, adding that one way is by a widespread presence of charging stations.