The one thing that might make a big difference is if electric cars get really long ranges and can be driven all day at highway speeds without stopping. In that case, electric cars won’t even need charging stations and can bypass the hurdle of creating the network effect. At that point, the network effect between gas-powered cars and filling stations would start to work against gasoline, just as Ralston predicts.
So as I see it, the near-term future of the electric car depends crucially on battery breakthroughs that allow very long ranges. As to how close we are to those breakthroughs […] you would have to ask a technologist.
Yes. So from a car-maker standpoint, a key requirement to electric car success will be battery know-how. And car know-how. Tesla has both. Google is working to get both.
Apple? Well, you might have heard people cite Apple as one of the biggest camera sellers in the world, and it’s true, of course. What they don’t often cite, though, is that Apple is also one of the biggest battery sellers in the world. As a device maker, it’s very interested in long battery life. And as a device maker that ships hundreds of millions of batteries, it’s very interested in cost savings. Both of those drive Apple’s investment in battery R&D. Additionally, Apple has hired engineers from at least one electric car battery maker. So, back to battery know-how and car know-how. Apple likely has the former, and signs of the latter appear day by day.
Of course, beyond car know-how and battery know-how, other capabilities will be important, too. More on that at another time.