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PHOTO CAPTION: Lars Thomsen, Futurist. Screen capture from Graz speech.

Who Killed the Gasoline Car?: A 2016 Prediction

Futurist Lars Thomsen likens the transition from gasoline cars to electric to a pan of popcorn as he predicts ICE-age cars will become obsolete after 2016

Published: 26-Dec-2013

His 36-minute talk at the 25th International AVL Conference “Engine & Environment” in Graz, Austria may be in German, as is the review in Die Zeit, but the gist of Lars Thomsen's address is this: internal combustion engines will become obsolete after 2016.

Why 2016? Especially after the U.S. Energy Information Agency predicts internal combustion engines (ICE-age) will continue to dominate out to 2040?

Two factors, in his view. One: the price of a kilowatt hour of lithium battery capacity will drop to $120. He contends Tesla is already at $200kWh. Two: by then, as the result of Europe Union moves, there will be tens of thousands of public charging stations across Europe, as well as a nationwide Tesla Supercharger network across the United States.

The Trendforscher('Futurist') thinks the transition won't be anywhere as gradual and protracted as most people assume. He likens the situation to a pan of popcorn, according to Die Ziet. As the oil in the pan heats, nothing happens. Then sudden one kernel explodes, then another, and another. Soon the explosion of kernels into popcorn is continuous. The first kernel to pop is Tesla Motors.

To prove his point, he notes that in the first half of 2013, the electric luxury car start-up, based in Silicon Valley, sold more cars in its class than did Mercedes or Audi. Writes Die Ziet, "Mercedes sold just over 6,000 models of the S- Class, Audi A8 sedan only 3,600." Other sources have noted that the company also beat out Porsche in sales in California.

Translated - via Google - from the original German, Die Ziet reports:

"This success will accelerate dramatically in the coming years, believes Thomsen. The market would be so attractive that three to four new car manufacturers [will?]... get involved... Electronics companies like LG and Samsung could step into the mobile world. Although [these companies] have no idea of [the] complex[ity of] combustion engines, but have sufficient know-how in the field batteries and electronics."

And Samsung or LG aren't the only possible candidates. Apple, too, has filed patents with electric vehicle applications.

And speaking of Apple, Thomsen points out that a decade ago, the mobile phone industry was owned by Nokia. Then Steve Jobs and his team at Apple re-imagined what the telephone could be - a miniature computer, as well as telephone - and in a relative blink of an eye, Apple iPhones and now Google Android OS dominate the industry and Nokia has been bought by Microsoft, itself now in danger of being lapped by more agile and innovative competitors.

Thomsen predicts that while EV market share today is just one percent, it could be five percent by 2015. By 2018, the market for gasoline cars - including hybrids - could come to an end, eclipsed by the electric car equivalent of the smart phone.

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