Speaking to around thirty governors on Saturday in Rhode Island, many of whom have auto-manufacturing plants in their states, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spitballed a few predictions about cars with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, including a colorful comparison to horses.
Musk on Electrification of Cars and China’s Under-Reported Progress
Probably in ten years more than a half of new vehicle production is electric in the United States. China’s probably going go be ahead of that because China’s been super-pro EV. I don’t think a lot of people know this but China’s environmental policies are way ahead of the U.S. Their mandate for renewable energy far exceeds the U.S. Sometimes people are under the impression that China is either dragging their feet or somehow behind the U.S. in terms of sustainable energy promotion, but they are by far the most aggressive on Earth; it’s crazy. In fact, the coalition of Chinese car manufacturers just wrote the Chinese government to beg them to slow down the mandate, because it’s too much. They need to make 8 percent electric vehicles in the next year or in two years or something; they can’t physically do it. China’s by far the most aggressive on electric vehicles and solar. That’s a common misperception — that they’re not. It’s one Google search away to figure this out by the way. It’s pretty easy.
Change Won’t Be Noticeable Immediately
In ten years half of all production will be EV. I think almost all cars produced will be autonomous in ten years, almost all. It will be rare to find one that is not, in ten years. That’s going to be a huge transformation. The thing to bear in mind though is that new vehicle production is only about only 5 percent of the vehicle fleet. How long does a car or truck last? They last 15-20 years before they are finally scrapped. So, new vehicle production is at most 1/15th of the fleets. Even when new vehicle production switches over to electric or autonomous, that still means the vast majority of the fleet on the roads is not. It will take another five to ten years before that becomes the majority, EV or autonomous.
In 2037, Autonomy and Electrification are the Majoriy
But if you were to say, go out twenty years, overwhelmingly, things are electric or autonomous, overwhelmingly.
Regular Cars Will be Like Horses
Fully autonomous. There will not be a steering wheel. Twenty years? It will be like having a horse. People have horses, which is cool. There will be people who have non-autonomous cars, like people have horses. It would just be unusual to use that as a mode of transport.
Below’s a video of the full conversation. Skip ahead to the 58-minute mark to see the above exchange: