Electric cars won’t bring down oil prices anytime soon

Hardly a day goes by without another media report about the impending demise of the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) as petroleum powered cars and trucks are replaced by uber-clean Electric Vehicles (EV). It is just a matter of time before EVs start to materially reduce global oil demand thereby capping a meaningful oil price recovery now and creating an ever-shrinking industry in the future. EVs are yet another reason why the decline of petroleum production and consumption is inevitable.

Except it isn’t true. Your writer read dozens of articles and attended a conference on the future of EVs. The evidence overwhelming proves they pose no threat to oil prices anytime soon. Following is a summary of the major points.

The forecasts for EV growth are all over the map. Late last year investment research outfit Morningstar figured EVs will be 10% of new vehicle sales by 2025 (only 8 years from now!) compared to 1% in 2015. Washington’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted in January cumulative sales of EVs (cars and light trucks) would push 1.4 million by 2025. Last month Morgan Stanley predicted 1 billion EVs would be sold by 2050 and 70% of European vehicles would be electric. Bloomberg New Energy Finance wrote a glowing report on EVs in early July titled The Electric Car Revolution is Accelerating stating “…adoption of emission-free vehicles will happen more quickly than previously estimated because the cost of building cars is falling so fast. The seismic shift will see cars with a plug account a third of the global auto fleet by 2040 and displace about 8 million barrels a day of oil production. In just eight years, electric cars will be as cheap as gasoline vehicles, pushing the global fleet to 550 million by 2050”. When Volvo recently announced it will only produce vehicles with electric motors of some sort – pure EV or hybrid – in a couple of years made global headlines.

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