If anyone has ever been in Oslo and take a taxi you’ll have probably been in a hundred thousand pound Telsa. Norway is expensive for just about anything bar walking in the countryside and eating Knekkebrød and cars are no exception.
It’s a funny place Norway and a lot of people that I would have thought of as petrol heads – middle aged, middle class, manly men – are now converts to the idea of an electric car. It’s all an issue of tax; petrol/diesel cars are very expensive in part due to tax and eletric cars don’t have the same taxes applied to them – or indeed have tax breaks to make them affordable. This means that the choice between an electric vehicle and a liquid fuel one is less a question of green conscience (as it may be in many countries) but a question of financial common sense. There’s also the fact that thanks to Elon Musk electric cars are not a combination of a scooter and a shopping trolley but are very desirable, luxury items – things of beauty.
And the trend is unstoppable; in 2018 32% of new car sales in Norway were electric cars and this is expected to be over 50% in 2019. This same trend is happening in many countries with Norway leading the way. The idea that we should be burning fossil fuels to drive around the place forever is preposterous. There is an energy transition on the way and the V8 will soon go the way of the horse and cart. This S-Curve from Dent Research shows you the way things are moving.
Where GFF is on the S-Curve
Personally, I don’t like cars; I don’t like how much they cost, cost to fuel, maintain, to tax and insure and to house and keep. They are great at siphoning off your hard earned cash and when it’s really just a large enclosed metal box wheel chair, it’s extremely expensive overall. I know that I’ve spent tens of thousands of pounds on cars over the last few years and that’s with me trying to be cheap! I have no idea of how some people can spend so much on something that will just cost them even more – conspicuous consumption and Status Anxiety are not for me!
For me, the very idea of car ownership is a bit funny. It’s something that we are wedded to. It seems our entire civilisation is designed around the use of cars. Take shopping for example. Our local Tesco’s has pedestrian access until you enter the car park and then you have you waltz between the parked cars and avoid the moving ones. You can shop local and on foot but it’ll cost you more.
However, I believe that it would be best for our family to cut down to one car. If I’m not working, I don’t think I’d really need one. If I did need one, I could rent one for the day from people like Co Wheels. There’s always Uber/Lyft and the future of automatic driverless cars to think about. The grid problems posed by electric cars should mean that long term fuel cell cars are the way to go and plugin electric is just a stepping stone or hydrogen. The need for personal transport will not diminish.
And that’s why I don’t think I’ll ever “own” an electric car. I have never bought a new car and don’t really want to. The crazy low monthly rental prices you see on brand new cars may be attractive but I don’t think that it’s a frugal way to do things for us. So, we’ll probably keep our petrol/diesel cars until we decide we don’t need them anymore. The majority of new cars “sold” in the UK are really just being rented for 2/3/5 years by their “owners” and they typically have such low mileage allowances, that they are not driven that much. What’s the point of owning something that you don’t use very much, costs you money when you could easily rent an alternative whenever you need it? If you only use a car for 1 hour a day, do you really need to own it 24/7?
Car ownership has its costs. Living somewhere with parking costs you more and having a car as your default option of going somewhere is probably bad for your health. It’s no surprise that car ownership is correlated with obesity! There are the societal costs – like how you can’t walk down some streets now because people have parked all over the pavement! That really gets me.
So the future may be electric for cars but I’m not going to be leading the charge. I do want there to be fewer CO2 emissions and that’s why I’m on the side of the producer and investors and not the consumer. If you want to buy a Telsa, be my guest; you can feel like a climate hero – a global warming jihadi and a prosperous altruist but just know that I’ll be the one selling you the green juice that charges up your battery.