Tesla Motors killed the gasoline-powered car last week. The Silicon Valley company accomplished this feat without delivering a single automobile. But as sure as Henry Ford killed the horse and buggy by mass producing an affordable Model T a century ago, Tesla’s announcement of its Model 3 means we’re approaching the end of the internal combustion engine.
The proof is in the astonishing public reaction to the announcement of a car that will sell for $35,000, and won’t even enter into production until late 2017. In the first weekend after the announcement, 276,000 buyers put down a $1000 non-refundable deposit for a car they won’t be able to see for two years.
This is by far the fastest growing order book in the history of the auto industry. It’s more cars ordered in four days than General Motors delivers in a month. It’s not surprising — Tesla promises to deliver features that are obviously exciting to the mainstream market:
- 215 miles of range per charge, a significant technological advance
- acceleration from 0 to 60 in six seconds
- seating for five people
- autopilot features
- an interior design that will “feel like a spaceship,” according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
To give an idea of how the numbers have blown past projections, Musk tweeted, “token of appreciation for those who lined up coming via mail. Thought maybe 20-30 people per store would line up, not 800. Gifts on order.”
Tesla’s success is the clearest sign that the market wants to move quickly to electric cars, but there are other signs as well:
- Volkswagen’s admission that it systematically cheated on emission tests pushed the industry to scrap diesel development and move aggressively toward the development of electric cars.
- India and China are moving aggressively toward electric vehicles. In India the government is offering incentives to automakers to encourage electric vehicle production, and has recently set a goal of having 100% of all vehicles powered by electricity by 2030. Chinese auto manufacturer BYD tripled electric vehicle sales to 150,000 in 2015, and expects that number to double each year for the next three years.
Doubters should recognize that what we’re talking about here is global market disruption, not excess government regulation, and the impact will be tremendous. Vehicle consumption currently accounts for about 70% of our oil usage in this country. The rise of the electric car and the death of the internal combustion engine will change our energy landscape forever.
Watch the video to take a test drive in the gas-powered car killer.