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Elon Musk: more than half of new vehicles will be electric and almost all autonomous in the US within 10 years

We have recently seen several projections about the adoption of electric vehicles from different companies and research groups, like Morgan Stanley, Bloomberg, and even OPEC. Most of them predict that about half of new vehicle production will be electric at some point between 2035 and 2040.

Now Tesla CEO Elon Musk jumps in with his own prediction, which is unsurprisingly much more aggressive.

At the National Governors Association today, Musk said that he expects “more than half of new vehicles” will be electric in the US within the next 10 years or roughly 10 to 15 years ahead of most predictions. He said:

“I think things are going to grow exponentially. There’s a big difference between 5 and 10 years. My guess is probably in 10 years more than half of new vehicle production is electric in the United States.”

We gave a similar prediction back in May when Morgan Stanley projected that electric vehicle sales will surpass gas-powered cars by 2040. We suggested that due to rapidly falling battery costs, there will be a point between 2020 and 2025 when all-electric powertrains reach cost parity with internal combustion engines before accounting for the cost of operation (gas and maintenance savings).

At that point, there will be virtually no reason for buyers to want gas-powered cars over battery-powered cars and automakers will divert all their investments to electric vehicles.

Musk specifically referred to new vehicles coming to market in the US – stating that it will take a few more years until all production is electric and then a few more to replace the existing fleet.

Interestingly, Tesla’s CEO added that it will likely happen even sooner in China, where they have been more aggressive with their regulations. He even referenced the fact that virtually all automakers (except for Tesla) are asking the Chinese government to slow down their electric car mandate.

Furthermore, while he expects over 50% of new vehicles to be electric in the US within 10 years, he thinks that “almost all” new vehicles will be autonomous within the same timeframe. Add another 10 years and he thinks that all vehicles will not even feature a steering wheel anymore.

Here’s the relevant part of his talk with Nevada Governor Sandoval at the NGA meeting today:

Evidently, Tesla is trying to be ahead of the curve on both fronts. Of course, all of Tesla’s vehicles are already electric, but the company also considers all its current new vehicles to support fully self-driving.

The vehicles produced by Tesla since October 2016 are equipped with a sensor suite and onboard computer that the automaker believes will support fully autonomous driving. They are currently working on the software, which they plan to send to the fleet over-the-air at some point in the future and make all their vehicles produced since last year fully autonomous.

Most other automakers have timelines ranging from 2019 to 2025 for their first autonomous vehicles, but plans to make all vehicle production autonomous are rarer. Same goes for electric vehicle production. Most automakers are currently guiding 20 to 40% of their production to be electric on Musk’s “over than 50%” timeline.


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