Tony Seba is used to making predictions that many think are insane, but turn out to be spot on.
About a decade ago, the Stanford University academic, co-founder of RethinkX and specialist in disruptive technologies, predicted the age of solar. He wrote the book, Solar Trillions.
Nuts, he was told. Turned out he was spot on.
Four years ago, he predicted that by 2018 the world would see electric cars with 300km range in the $YS-$40,000 price range.
Nuts, he was told again. But again, he was spot on – the models are here, at least in the US, Europe and Asia.
Now get ready for his next prediction.
By 2025, he says, all new cars sold with be electric. And this won’t be driven by subsidies and other incentives, it will be a matter of simple economics,
By 2020, Seba predicts, the cost of EVs will be the same as cars with internal combustion engines. EVs will be 10 times cheaper to operate, 10 times cheaper to maintain, and many times more powerful.
Seba says the 10x factor is the key to disruption. It was the case when the horse was replaced by the first automobiles – more quickly than anyone guessed at the time.
“We love our cars, but we loved our horses too, and then we stopped buying them because of that 10x change in the cost of transport (horse to car).”
That takes him to his next prediction. That automated , or self-driving will take over, and will usher in a new phenomenom – transport as a service.
That means electric vehicles will be provided mostly in fleets , particularly in the big cities. And car ownership will become a thing of the past, and so will the massive parking lots that dominate the design of our cities and suburbs.
What does that mean for consumers? Well, it means that now – considering the average length of owership is 10 years – that the next car you buy may well be the last.
For that reason, Seba suggests, you might be better off leasing it rather than buying it outright. That way, when the transition comes, you can flick it to a fleet owner.
If not, we may see in the car market something we are starting to see in the electricity market – negative pricing. Which means you may have to pay someone to take your old car.
This interview with Seba – the first of our new podcast series for The Driven – is truly fascinating, as Seba goes into more detail about his predictions.
We hope you enjoy it.
This podcast is also available on iTunes.