Tesla CEO Elon Musk: Half Of New Cars Will Be Electric In 15-20 Years

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2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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Last time Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made a bet, with journalist Dan Neil about several aspects of the Model S, he won it.

That same confidence and ambition has now led him to make another--that by the late 2020s, more than half of all new vehicles being manufactured will be electric.

If you're raising an eyebrow right now, you aren't alone. Elon's ambitious prediction hugely eclipses that of market analysts, who do predict a rise in the number of EVs by 2020, but not to the extent where they account for more than half the market.

Beyond that, predictions are less clear--so Musk might be on to something.

Speaking on Friday, as he was handing over the keys to the first Model S buyers, Musk said: "In 20 years more than half of new cars manufactured will be fully electric... I feel actually quite safe in that bet. That's a bet I will put money on."

According to Reuters, Musk said, "It's probably going to be in the 12- to 15-year time frame."

Even Nissan, makers of the Leaf electric car and partners to EV-focused Renault, predicts a lower number of electric cars by 2020. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says that by the end of this decade, ten percent of all new vehicles will be electric--still higher than analysits predict.

Analysts will no doubt be watching Tesla closely over the next few years, to see if the company can deliver on Musk's claim that it will deliver over 20,000 Model S vehicles next year.

One set of keys to be handed over on Friday was for Tim Draper, venture capitalist and business partner of Tesla Model S owner number one, Steve Jurvetson.

"It's the smoothest car I have ever driven," Draper said.

Smooth perhaps, but not as smooth-talking as Elon Musk. Will he win his bet? It seems unlikely, but we're not counting against it either...


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Comments (18)
  1. Musk is certainly qualified to organize a team to produce a great car, but his comments on the future are just plain nutty. How anyone, especially someone who deals so much with batteries as he does (well, actually, he just buys them off the shelf) would apparently be so ignorant of the remarkable recent progress made by half a dozen companies and universities in developing both much better and much cheaper batteries. Get on the internet and do some investigating there , Elon. Those great new batteries are just around the corner. The current crop of li ions you're putting in your cars are both exorbitant to buy and don't last that long. We're not going to ride into the age of mass electric vehicles on the back of that battery technology.

  2. Not sure what you're saying, Kent.

  3. Elon Musk smooth talking? Guess the author never heard him speech...But he certainly isn't modest when it comes to making claims for his products or industry nor can he afford to be with an army of sceptics out there always ready to put him down.

    As for 2030...with oil production way in decline, hydrogen no doubt still going nowhere, biofuels the less elegant alternative and new battery tech solving the problems with current battery tech (price 200WH/KG and recharge time >150 miles of range in

  4. Hmmm, half my comment magically disappeared....continued:

    ...recharge time

  5. one more time:

    ...recharge time >150 miles of range in

  6. I really just regard this a a "visionary statement" as in, "image if ..." Based on that vision, you can then work to answer the question of what it will take to get there.

    If you don't have the vision, it will clearly never happen.

  7. i am with him 100%. right now the price of gas is dropping like a rock around here (albeit about 3 months after the rest of the country) and part of it was due to our refinery coming back online after a fire earlier this year and a reduced demand for fuel based on $4+ per gallon.

    EVs should be about half because probably 80+% of two car households could easily make an EV work for them and as the charging infrastructure develops people will actually become aware of that.

    Right now, i am exposing EVs to my area. i get inquiries several times a week and some leave thinking its a curiosity for the strange, but others leave deep in thought, weighing the substantial benefits. price is no longer the barrier here. its the "jumping into the unkn

  8. I won't be one of those in that catagory because I have a 2006 Nissan Frontier that just turned 26k miles on the OD. At this rate my truck will outlive me :-)

  9. Yeah and it will probably be in a museum ?

  10. I wouldn't make a bet with a guy that put a rocket into space...


  11. more conservative than my estimates have been.

    50% in 20 years seems like an almost no-brainer.

  12. The future is unpredictable, but I'd like to see this prediction come true. And who knows the Model S could be the car that turns the tide against gasoline.

  13. He said electric, not necessarily battery electric. I'm assuming capacitors will play a huge role in the mass adoption of electric vehicle in the future.

  14. Kevin there is a lot bantered about on capacitors can you please explain to me how they can be used in place of batteries. Capacitors are only good for quick charge build up and quick discharge possibly good in racing F1 etc but not in EVs in place of batteries. Do you know something I don't ??

  15. @Don: Capacitors don't have to have a quick discharge, if you have enough resistance in series with the load. That resistance can be automatically reduced, as available energy loss drops source voltage, to keep actual usable voltage constant. Downstream from that, the accelerator could simply be a user-variable resistor.

  16. @David: Resistance creates heat not very efficient!

  17. no doubt hes in good sted to make those claims. peak oil is certain for late 2013, no matter what the $85 barrel shows. in 15-20 years airlines, truckies and ships will hold all the fuel to the point that normal people will need to purchase a permit to run a vehicle that runs on oil based product.

  18. if all the oil on the planet became unusable, we would have evs that people could buy in 6 months.

    so the real question is do the bigwigs really want to wean us off gas cars ?

    and if so, how fast ?

    they prefer to sell evs for 35k to everyone who will buy, before they start costing 34k, etc.

    this is true of all products, so this should come as no surprise.

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