Can Tesla Motors speed the transition to electric cars?

Dating back to 2006, when Elon Musk wrote The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me), the mission of Tesla Motors “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport” has been clear. At Tesla, Musk has plans to add to the current product portfolio with lower priced "third generation platform" electric vehicles.

But, what's most striking is that Elon Musk is not simply looking accelerate the growth of Tesla. Musk doesn't stop there, he's taking it a few steps further. He is looking to accelerate the the growth of all sustainable transport.


In contrast, naysayers argue that old-fashioned fuel powered (or newer fuel cell powered) vehicles show the only real promise for growth in the automotive sector. Whether it's Fiat Chrysler discrediting EVs or Toyota claiming the future is fuel cells, many in the industry seem to believe that Tesla's commitment to electric vehicles is wrongheaded. But, the data disproves this -- in fact, Musk’s mission for Tesla Motors "to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport" may have already begun. Let's take a look at the numbers.

Analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) explained that electric vehicles are taking off worldwide, with global sales of 288,500 units last year. Yes, that's still just 0.5% of all car sales, but, electric vehicle sales have quintupled globally since 2011. 

As a result, more auto manufacturers are introducing new EV offerings. Most recently, Porsche chief Matthias Mueller pointed to Tesla as an inspiration for his company to expand it's electric vehicle portfolio admitting, “Tesla has built an exceptional car, they have a very pragmatic approach and set the standard, where we have to follow up now.”  

So, let’s get back to Elon Musk and his mission. What about that long-term view? Well, Musk just appeared in a fascinating documentary released earlier this year, Pump, in which he boldly predicts, “... in the future, I think there will be no gas stations, people will all have electric cars.”


In the film (and in the clip above), there are conflicting forecasts regarding when (and how) this overall transition will likely occur.

Although views on this differ, even those in the "opposing" camp, like Shell Oil*, actually predict a transition to electric. Shell Oil's New Lens Scenarios report forecasts that: “… liquid fuels for passenger road transport [will] decline after a global peak in 2035. By 2070, the passenger road market could be nearly oil-free… By this time, electricity and hydrogen may dominate” -- this is followed by a remarkable graph, see below, which shows electric vehicles (lumped in with hydrogen vehicles) gaining a significant foothold between 2030 - 2060, a shocking admission from a leading oil company...

Regardless of when this transition may occur, change is coming. Heck, Bloomberg even goes so far as to suggest that an oil company, like BP, should consider buying Tesla outright. However things shake out, we'll be watching. And as we watch Tesla Motors continue to “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport” – it will be captivating to watch Elon Musk and team Tesla act as a catalyst to speed this transition to the electrification of automobiles. Needless to say, we’re at the beginning of something big.