Tesla might be bringing in a new definition for the term “Ice Age.” Instead of “a long period of reduction in the temperature of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental and polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers,” Tesla’s Ice Age has to do with the disappearance of ICE, meaning Internal Combustion Engines. A relatively small percentage of the world’s vehicles are powered by battery cells, with the overwhelming majority of passenger modes of transportation being fueled by gasoline or diesel. However, Tesla is turning the tide by offering enhanced battery cell technology and making their cars more appealing than their gas counterparts.
Simply put, the development of Tesla’s battery-powered cars are bringing in a new era of transportation. Soon enough, gas cars will be the minority, and Teslas, along with other electric vehicles, will be the most popular cars on the road. How this will happen for the next twenty to thirty years comes down to the development of electric vehicles and the process of making them better than their adversary. Without a doubt, Tesla and Elon Musk are leading the charge.
Interestingly, Musk’s development of affordable electric transport is strikingly similar to Henry Ford’s development of the Model T. In 1908, Ford produced the first Model T, a step toward making cars a more mainstream and widely-affordable type of transportation for everyday people. While the rich and wealthy had been riding around in cars since the 1880s, Ford knew that the way cars were made had to be streamlined and that people would eventually need something affordable.
One hundred years after Ford produced the first Model T, Tesla was releasing the first Roadster. An expensive, but functional and revolutionary machine, the Roadster was really the first electric car that could be taken seriously. It had performance, range, and a car company that was only focusing on EVs had built it, so consumers knew it was the specialty of the company, not just some interesting side project.
The similarities between the two situations are resemblant to each other because both Musk and Ford knew that: 1) Transportation had to be revolutionized, and 2) Cars needed to be affordable.
Before the first cars were being built, people were primarily traveling by horse and buggy, by water, or by passenger trains. A combustion engine was the next best thing at the time because Ford knew how to make it affordable for the average person. It also gave people the freedom to travel where they wanted, and the time they desired instead of being packed into train cabins like a pack of sardines.
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Musk’s situation is that, while cars were already functional and nearly everybody had one, the industry needed to be revolutionized once again. Gas cars dominated the market because there was really no other option, but Musk saw a better way.
While the 2008 Roadster certainly wasn’t a perfect fit into everyone’s financial plan, it gave Tesla a headstart in the EV sector. Tesla was forced to work out the kinks that other car companies are experiencing now early on in its existence. The car’s hefty price tag definitely wasn’t for everyone. Still, it allowed Tesla to round up additional cash for its future projects, which included more affordable models and ramped production lines.
It is pretty rare that anyone sees a Model T on the road. Apart from if you’re in Los Angeles and you happen to see Jay Leno strolling around in his, or if you’re at Hershey Park riding on the Sunoco “Fast Lane” ride, you’re more than likely not going to see one puttering around. The fact that many people have never seen a Model T in real life is a sneak preview of what is to come in the automotive industry over the next 50 to 100 years: a disappearance of gas-powered cars. In their place, electric vehicles will roam the streets, free of noise and fossil fuel-driven pollution.
While the combustion engine was improved over time to increase efficiency and performance, the same thing needed to be done with batteries. Tesla’s Battery Day event on Tuesday brought to light how the electric automaker plans to deal with this roadblock. The company’s cars need to continue to improve. Efficiency needs to get better, longevity, performance, you name it. Tesla unveiled a new battery cell during the event that will effectively usher in the beginning of the new ICE Age.
With the developments, gas-powered engines are beginning to appear pointless. When the cost of battery cell manufacturing goes down, people will be forced to reconsider what they’re driving now, especially if it is a gas-powered vehicle. While EVs are already appealing because of their low maintenance requirements, they will also be the same price as gas cars within the next 3-5 years, which is really the biggest factor in why consumers buy cars, to begin with.
Just like a tube television, in a few decades, the young children will point at cars with tailpipes and say, “Mommy, what’s that Tesla with a pipe coming out of the back of it?” The Mother will answer, “Oh honey, that’s a gas car. They’ve been extinct for nearly 20 years.” This conversation will happen while both begin to breathe significantly cleaner air, and the average global temperature will be reduced. Not to mention, the quick back and forth will also occur at an Automotive History Museum, because gas cars will be so rare, that will be the only place most will see them.