Some Members Of The Auto Industry Are Still Clueless About Electric Vehicles

0 55

Yeah, big shocker, right? Even though this cluelessness is hardly new information, it is still fascinating to see it when it presents itself. I recently had an exchange with said cluelessness in the comments section of a LinkedIn post. I know, I know, online comment sections are a vacuum for the egomaniacally ill-informed. I try my darndest not to engage in such fruitless exercise as I try to deprogram the disillusioned, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. I feel it is my duty as an ambassador of the rEVolution. 

The post that sparked this exchange was about Massachusetts requiring all new cars sold to be electric by 2035. A lot of the comments were in support of the measure, but it didn’t take long for the ill-informed to chime in with the bellows of government overreach, EV inadequacies, and climate change denial. Below is an exchange I had with two such individuals, both of whom appear to be members of the incumbent automobile industry’s dealership apparatus. 

The first individual I shall refer to as “Clueless Industry Guy #1.” His stated title on LinkedIn is “DEALERSHIP COMPLIANCE | INCOME DEVELOPEMENT | TRAINING.” He does not seem privy to the S-curve adoption model that comes with disruptive technology. Or perhaps he has not yet realized that the S-curve model can apply to the automobile industry, and that it is in fact in the initial stages of its exponential climb. 

Clueless Industry Guy #1: 

“Seems like a fantasy to me considering minimal demand for electric vehicles.” 

Me:

“minimal demand?”

Clueless Industry Guy #1: 

“Compared to 14–17 million new car registrations. Minimal is not the right word. Almost non-existent is more accurate.” 

Me: 

“With Tesla’s exponential year-over-year adoption rate, the EV ‘fantasy’ is becoming a reality at an accelerated rate. Tesla is the fastest growing, and most valuable, auto manufacturer in history. The Model 3 had over 400k $1,000 preorders for it — an unprecedented level of demand that the rest auto industry had never even come close to seeing. As the graph I posted shows, that is translating to unprecedented production demand. It is estimated that the Cybertruck has somewhere around one million — I repeat, one MILLION — preorders. No vehicle has ever even come remotely close to that preorder number. And those preorders will most certainly translate to production sales … which will then garner even more demand as more and more consumers experience it. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the EV empire is growing; and growing fast.” 

Clueless Industry Guy #1: 

“I agree. Tesla is a cult.” 

Me: 

“Just like the iPhone, and we have seen how that turned out.” 

Clueless Industry Guy #1: 

“love your optimism!” 

Dismissing Tesla as cult, with all the connotations that come with it, is a common response from industry critics. Not only do they disregard the electric vehicle revolution as a trivial passing fad like bell-bottom jeans or the “Gangnam Style” YouTube craze, but they go as far as to call it a cult; its believers naïve and its fate doomed. To them, Tesla is the automotive equivalent to Jamestown. A cult is a group, usually led by a charismatic leader, with a devotion to an idea that is usually predicated on lies. Tesla is not a cult. Tesla is helmed by a charismatic leader, Elon Musk, but he is no charlatan, and the companies he leads are not scams. Quite the contrary. Musk is a visionary leader (arguably the most profound visionary of our time), and the companies he leads make extraordinary products — in this case, Tesla’s truly extraordinary vehicles. 

Tesla’s vehicles are not extraordinary as a matter of opinion, but extraordinary by being quantifiably superior in the metrics that one uses to measure what makes a great car — performance, safety, efficiency, technology, connectivity, cost (and ease) of ownership, etc. Tesla is the bonafide leader in all of those. These superlatives translate to a fanatical customer love/loyalty that any other company in the world could only dream of having. Tesla’s success is not predicated on intangible cult delusion, it is predicated on building amazing products that people love. Ask any Tesla owner, or spend some time in a Tesla yourself, and you’ll start to understand why this company garners so much adoration. 

Next we come to Clueless Industry Guy #2. His viewpoints highlight a disturbing trend in America’s polarized political culture, particularly heightened to new hysteria during the Trump administration — mistaking science/data-driven public health protocols for freedom-robbing tyranny. Couple this with a few stale “Big Oil” talking points, and you’ve got yourself a real character on your hands. 

Clueless Industry Guy #2: 

“Only the market not government can dictate what the consumer will buy.” 

Me (*facepalm*): 

“That should not be the case when there is significant amounts of data that shows a particular product to have widespread detrimental effects on public and environmental health.” 

Clueless Industry Guy #2: 

“In a free country the consumer makes the difference of what will sell and when by there demand. Not the demand of a government. And trying to legislate technology!” 

Me: 

“I understand the concern over possible government regulatory overreach, but that is not the case here. It’s a public health issue. Regardless, it probably won’t matter anyway. By 2035, it will be widely realized that EVs are far superior to ICE vehicles. Owning a gas powered car in 2035 will be like owning a horse and carriage.” 

Clueless Industry Guy #2: 

“Actually it’s not so much [with how] clean ICE has become. What about all of the pollution created by coal burning power plants to produce electricity for the electric vehicles.” 

Me: 

“Ah yes, the old ‘long tailpipe’ argument. EVs are still significantly better than ICE from an overall carbon footprint and toxicity standpoint. This has been definitively proven. Besides, the grid continues to transition to cleaner sources at an ever accelerated rate. I encourage you to explore this topic further. It would be interesting to pin this conversation and revisit it in 2035.”

Then Clueless Industry Guy #2 tries to shoehorn the fact that his 40 years of time in the stagnant incumbent automobile industry, that has been devoid of any real disruption for the last hundred years, somehow makes him more knowledgeable on the new disruptive technology that is (apparently unbeknownst to him) antiquating the very outdated products/processes/viewpoints that he himself so stubbornly clings onto. 

Clueless Industry Guy #2: 

“If you notice I work for Audi and have been in the auto industry for 40 years. I have a lot of experience with both that you don’t.”

(“Ooooo Audi!” — my inner monologue says, with extreme sarcasm.)

Me:

“Nokia and Erikson said the same thing about Apple. Having experience does not make you immune to being incorrect. Don’t confuse experience with dogma. If you are suggesting that it is ‘experience’ that led you to the conclusions you have made here, then that ‘experience’ is doing you an incredible disservice and proving to be more of a liability than an asset. What you are displaying here is not the product of experience, it is the product of dogma; and it is misinformed dogma at that.” 

Clueless Industry Guy #2:

“Didn’t say I was or correct or you are. But market demand is what makes a future product sell not govt force. And until we can get over 400 miles to a charge it isn’t feasible for travel and work. I can’t drive one of my companies electrics because the range won’t allow me to get to my dealers without several hours of stopping to recharge. I think my employer would rather I be at a dealership earning my paycheck than sitting idle at a charger for several hours a day.” 

Me *double face palm*:

“Again, this is not a government overreach issue, it’s a public/environmental health issue.

“I haven’t used gas in over eight years, and I never will again. During that time I had a 120+ mile round-trip daily commute that I easily did with half a charge; plugging in at my garage at the end of every day. I have also comfortably traveled from south Florida to northern Michigan — across the entire country — in just two days; and have easily done many other long distance road trips using the Tesla Supercharger network. The average daily commute in the US is about 35 miles, well within the range of practically every EV available on the market today. 

“Yes, Audi’s EV program is in its infancy now, but I know several people working within VW’s EV program who are seeing to it that it will become the future of all of its brands. Big changes are coming. Within the next decade we will see a huge adoption rate for EVs, and not even brought about by spooky government regulation either, but by good old fashion consumer demand.”

The road trip I did from southern Florida to northern Michigan. The combined convenience of Tesla’s Autopilot and vast Supercharger network made it a joy.

Clueless Industry Guy #2 continues to be completely deaf to the concept of consumer/environmental protection. He also continues to not recognize the myriad of advantages that a properly designed EV has over its ICE counterpart. Yet he forges on, shifting into full Trump-like making-sh!#-up mode… 

Clueless Industry Guy #2: 

“That’s exactly what it is when the markets, consumers don’t support it. If the consumer was that concerned, we would have had electric cars, planes and trains on April 1, 1970.” 

Me (pfff!): 

“The technology was not ready in the 1970s, but it is ready now. The current EV market has been made possible by the advent and commercialization of the lithium-ion cell, coupled with $/kWh unit cost reduction brought on by economies of scale. How can you not know this and still consider yourself relevant in the current auto industry?” 

As of writing this, he has not replied. 

I know that my last question to him may seem a little harsh, but it was a sincere question. I mean, come on. How do auto manufacturers and the dealers they supply plan to stay relevant, or even survive, with such ignorant mindsets within their organization? What these two men are exhibiting, particularly “#2,” is a phenomenon that I call “Boblutzism.” Boblutzism (named after formerly respected automobile legend turned EV industry nincompoop, Bob Lutz) is when someone whose decades of “industry leading” participation in the bureaucracy, complacency, and short-sightedness of the incumbent automobile industry has made them completely inept on the topic of electric vehicle disruption.

The dismissive viewpoint of the “Clueless Industry Guys” appear to come from their dogmatic complacency, which feeds their industry/technological ignorance, which then feeds their inability to make inference. It’s the same blasé complacency that telecom giants like Ericsson, Nokia, and Blackberry took towards Apple when Apple had the audacity to dare enter the cellphone market that these established titans had a seemingly unshakable grip on. They shrugged off the iPhone as an impractical touchscreen gimmick for the rich that was doomed to fail. We all know how that turned out. Apple’s iPhone ended up rolling over them like a freight train, and in just a couple years, these incumbents went from being leaders of their industry to antiquated irrelevant obscurity. I often use iPhone analogies when discussing what is happening in the current auto industry because the parallels are so shockingly similar. 

When and what will it take for the “Clueless Industry Guys” to finally realize the folly of their flawed logic? Will they come to the realization before their brand’s extinction is imminent? Time will tell. And for those in the automobile industry who remain clueless, that time is quickly running out. 

Viva la rEVolution! 

STOCK DISCLOSURE / DISCLAIMER: During my employment at Tesla from 2012 to 2019, I was granted and optioned thousands of shares of $TSLA stock at ~$5/share (post split). I am long $TSLA with a multimillion-dollar stake in the company, and do not intend to sell any part of my stake for several years. Any content I create is not intended to be investment advice, and should not be viewed as such. Always do your own research before investing.

 



 


Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

 

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

New Podcast: Forecasting EV Sales And EV Battery & Metal Prices — Interview with BloombergNEF’s Head of Clean Power Research

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More