Innovative technology in the auto industry—turbochargers or catalytic converters or disc brakes, say—tends to launch in high-end vehicles and filter down to the mass market over many years, often decades.
Technology tipping points in society happen more rapidly and become indispensable within only a few years: think the Internet and mobile phones.
So which are plug-in electric cars?
Some say that battery-powered vehicles will filter into the world's vehicle fleet slowly, over decades.
Today, seven years after the first mass-market electric car launched, plug-in vehicles are only about 1 percent of total global sales.
Others suggest that because electric cars are better to drive and cheaper per mile, their adoption will soar once battery costs fall enough to make long-range models competitive on price with similarly sized gasoline vehicles.
Electric-car growth predictions vary enormously Will it be:— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) April 2, 2018
We suspect we know where our readers fall on that question, but we decided to put our surmise to the test in a poll.
This week's Twitter poll asks our followers what they think of electric-car growth predictions.
We're not asking about specific numbers, which could get us down into the weeds very quickly.
Instead, we simply asked what poll participants think about how fast electric cars will grow versus the general expectations of that growth among society and the industry.
The choices in the poll range from "faster than most think" to "a lot slower," with a pair of less-extreme choices—"a bit faster" and "a bit slower"—in the middle.
Poll participants who believe battery-electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains represent an evolutionary change in the industry will likely opt for those middle choices.
2011 Nissan Leaf at dealership after software upgrade, May 2011, photo by George Parrott
Those ardent believers in electric-car technology as a better way to travel (once actual buyers recognize that, ahem) will likely opt for the "much faster than expected" choice.
And electric-car skeptics would likely push for the much-slower option, though we're not sure how many of them read our news coverage or participate in our polls.
Either way, we're curious to see whether our internal predictions on where the poll results fall out will be matched by the reality of the votes. Tune in next week to find out!
As always, please note that our Twitter polls are far from scientifically valid, due to small sample size and self-selection by those who choose to participate.