Electric cars have gained significant traction over the past couple of decades, with companies like Tesla booming in popularity in a small but quickly growing market. As climate change becomes an increasing inevitability, and the government continues to push alternative energy, manufacturers around the world are producing electric cars.
Electric cars will replace gas cars by 2040. While there will still be gas-driven cars in the world, all new cars at this point will be manufactured as electric cars per industry experts. As gas-driven cars fall into disrepair, electric cars will become the dominant form of transportation.
A society with only electric cars may seem part of the distant future, but it’s only a few decades away. Keep reading to learn more about the transition from gas cars to electric cars and when the world can expect to see it.
Will Electric Cars Replace Gas Cars?
It’s inevitable that electric cars will eventually replace gas cars. This is not just because electric cars are gaining popularity as a mode of transportation that runs on alternative energy. It’s also because the fossil fuels used to run cars are a finite resource. As it stands, the world’s supplies of oil used to create gasoline will be used up within 53 years but this is constantly being revised as drilling and exploration technology advances. (Source: Ecotricity)
Even though electric cars will eventually replace all gas cars, there are still significant technical challenges to the supremacy of electric cars on the road. Currently, the technology of electric cars is not as powerful as gas-powered technology. There are also constraints, such as the lack of charging stations that make electric cars a less popular option than conventional vehicles.
It’s unlikely that we’ll stop seeing gas cars on the road anytime soon. When it comes to production, though, these cars should start being phased out of car manufacturing within the next decade or so. By 2040, over half of the cars on the road will be electric, and no new gas cars will be produced outside of specialty production.
After this point in history, the number of gas cars will only continue to dwindle as more of them fall into disrepair and are replaced by electric cars.
What Year Will Cars Be All Electric?
The year most often quoted when it comes to discussing the supremacy of electric vehicles is 2040. This is the year when all cars are expected to be produced as electric cars. More than half of the cars on the road in 2040 are expected to be electric. However, the question of when gas cars will be eliminated is much more complicated. (Source: Motor Biscuit)
When you consider what year all cars will be electric, you have to consider the following:
- Vintage collectors: Even after electric cars become the primary mode of transportation, there will still be plenty of vintage automobile collectors who will keep gas cars available on the market. Since many of these collectors are also amateur mechanics, these cars can also be expected to last longer than the average vehicle due to careful maintenance.
- Government mandates: A potential government mandate ordering gas-powered cars off the road as an environmental protection measure would involve citizens being forced to trade their gas cars in for electric substitutions. A government mandate to take gas cars off the road is unlikely, but it could happen in the future as pollution continues to impact the global climate.
- The economy: While many people would happily switch to an electric car if they could afford it, many people can’t afford an electric car at its current cost. Whether more people get on board with electric vehicles in the future depends on electric vehicles coming down in cost and on the economy being stable enough to support people buying new cars.
- Extenuating circumstances: There are many kinds of environmental crises or unforeseen events that may positively or negatively impact the adoption of electric energy transport. The sharp drop in gas prices following the COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of world events having a direct impact on transportation.
Because these future variables are impossible to predict, it’s hard to say what year gas cars will completely drop off the map outside of antiquity. One limiting factor that may prevent newer gas cars from being kept alive beyond their natural lifespan is digitalization.
With the increased use of computer electronics in vehicles, cars are more difficult to keep running without regular software updates. The software helps to do everything from running the air conditioning to monitoring and initiating engine operation. Without this digital tech, it will be hard to keep cars on the road once dealers decide to stop making parts for them.
Why the World Is Switching to Electric Cars
Even though the movement towards an all-electric car population might seem glacial, many industry experts believe that the move towards electric cars is still certain. There are a few major factors that are pushing the world towards electric cars:
- Green technology and climate change: As the effects of climate change become more apparent, more and more governments and companies are stepping up to try and reduce the emissions put off by gas vehicles. Eventually, this could lead to gas vehicles being phased out or banned. Right now, the movement towards green technology is still relatively slow.
- The end of fossil fuels: While the peak oil prediction that predicted humanity would have depleted our sources of fossil fuel by 2004 has been disproven as an inaccurate model, scientists are still predicting the end of fossil fuels within the next century. This means alternative energy sources will go from a novelty to a monopoly in a few short years.
- Technological singularity: One reason electric cars are becoming more popular is that they are easily integrated into the Internet of Things. As humanity becomes more and more digitized, we’ll require our vehicles to keep up with that level of integrated technology too. Since gas cars will eventually be discontinued, they will be obsolete when they can’t connect digitally.
Even though it will probably take a major event such as peak oil to force a sea change to electric transport, the adoption of electric cars will only continue to have positive effects on our environment and global resources moving forward.
Reasons Electric Cars Can’t Replace Gas Cars Yet
As advanced as technology is in 2020, many people are probably wondering why society hasn’t already swapped over to electric vehicles. The truth is that many different factors contribute to the lack of global adoption when it comes to electric cars. Here are a few of the reasons why electric cars are still a minority on the road (Source: Goliath):
- Gas prices aren’t high enough yet. Experts agree that one of the major tipping points for convincing consumers to swap to electric cars is when driving an electric car becomes cheaper than driving a gas car. Currently, gas prices are not high enough to deter most of the population from using gas.
- Electric cars still cost too much. Electric cars often advertise that they will eventually pay for themselves in saved gas costs, but even an economy electric car is as expensive as a brand-new mid-range gas car, or around $30,000. This is a cost that is prohibitively high for many people in the middle or low class, who regularly buy cars of $5,000 or less.
- Electric car batteries are expensive. It’s not just electric cars that are expensive as a purchase—the accessories that go along with electric cars, such as home charging ports, are expensive too. While a gas car’s battery only runs a few hundred dollars, an electric car battery can easily run over a thousand dollars.
- Electric cars require special accommodations. Electric cars need some special accommodations that can make them difficult to keep for some users. For example, people who live in apartments do not have a garage to install a home charging port in, which limits the accessibility of electric cars in metropolitan areas.
- Many people find electric car charging times inconvenient. Charging times for electric cars have improved over the years, but they still take a long time compared to gassing up a gas-powered vehicle, which takes mere minutes in comparison. This is a factor of electric car ownership that will change as charging stations become more efficient over time.
- Electric cars don’t perform as well as gas-powered cars. This is a sticking point for many car aficionados. While some high-powered electric cars such as the Tesla sports car can give conventional sports cars a run for their money in terms of performance, standard grade electric cars do not have the horsepower or acceleration of gas cars.
- Electric cars have a much lower range than gas-powered cars. The range of electric cars has been one of the hardest challenges for electric car engineers to work through, with companies only recently making strides in bringing a higher travel range to their vehicles between battery charges.
- Electric cars are seen as an attack on the coal and oil industries. Even though these industries have been bracing for the swap to alternative energy for decades, many lobbyists continue to fight hard against green technology initiatives to protect energy corporations. Politically, an attack on energy is seen as an attack on the working class.
As it stands, electric cars are nowhere near the point of replacing gas cars. In 2019, electric cars only made up 2% of global sales. (Source: Business Insider)
Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Cars
Electric cars offer many benefits and drawbacks compared to gas cars, and it’s the benefits associated with electric cars that are driving their sales growth. Here are some of the advantages of driving an electric car:
- Improved digital networking: Compared to gas-powered cars, many electric cars have state-of-the-art wireless applications and other digital tools. These tools are used both to maintain the vehicle easily and to also integrate electronic accessories such as Bluetooth seamlessly.
- Improved response: Electric motors are responsive and have good torque in comparison to gas-powered motors. (Source: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy) They aren’t as powerful as gas motors, but they offer quick handling.
- Fuel savings: The cost of powering an electric car is only a fraction of what it costs to fuel a gas-powered car week by week. The cost of fuel savings for an electric car is capable of eventually paying for the vehicle.
- Quiet operation: Electric cars are whisper-quiet on the road, to the point that some lawmakers have suggested that electric cars have noise-making devices introduced to their systems to make them more apparent to pedestrians.
- National security: Aside from the personal benefits of electric cars, there are also societal benefits. People investing in electric cars help to diversify the market, making the nation less dependent on a single source of energy.
- Less maintenance: Electric motors require much less maintenance than a gas motor, and many repairs to electric vehicles can be performed remotely through the car’s digital systems. This is in stark contrast to servicing gas cars, a process that can be tedious and time-consuming.
While the above points are some great reasons to buy an electric car, there are still some serious drawbacks to electric cars that keep people from investing. Here are some of the disadvantages of buying an electric car:
- Short-range: This is one of the biggest drawbacks to electric cars currently. Even though the range of electric cars is gradually getting better with each new model, the charging limitations are a major turn-off for consumers. (Source: Freedom National Insurance)
- Expensive repairs: Electric cars may not need repairs as often as gas cars, but the repairs they do need to go into the shop for tend to be more expensive. This is because many electric cars can only be replaced with OEM parts from the manufacturer rather than cheaper third-party or aftermarket parts.
- Inconvenience and lack of accessibility: Lack of charging ports can make it difficult for electric car owners to charge their cars away from home. Making sure that the car is charged up enough becomes a daily concern rather than the weekly concern of putting gas in the car.
- Not enough government incentives: The swap to electric cars would be quicker and easier if it was facilitated by more robust programs such as government rebates that rewarded citizens for investing in green technology, but currently, these programs are few and far between.
- Difficulty obtaining service: For several years during their growth as a company, the leading brand of electric cars, Tesla had a reputation for its cars being slow to repair. Repair centers backed up for months at a time, waiting on parts, leaving owners out of a vehicle. Many of these service issues have been rectified in recent years, but service is still hard to find in some areas.
- Image problem: For many years, electric cars were seen as a hippie sort of vehicle for people overly interested in environmentalism. This perception is slowly changing as the electric car gains mainstream traction. However, there are still some negative connotations in popular culture when it comes to electric cars versus gas cars. This is especially true in America.
These drawbacks and more have kept electric cars from being adopted on a mass scale. Only advancements in electric car technology and pressure from the market to convert will continue to shift the ratio of drivers in favor of the electric car.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Gas Cars
Even though electric cars have been around for years, gas cars continue to dominate the market. Other than being the status quo, gas cars do offer advantages and disadvantages in comparison to electric cars. This stands in the way of electric cars easily replacing gas ones.
Here are some of the reasons why people prefer gas cars to electric cars:
- Gas cars are cheaper. This is the biggest advantage for gas cars over electric cars, at least from the perspective of the consumer. Many used gas cars can be bought for only a few thousand dollars in comparison to the tens of thousands of dollars an electric car would cost in comparison.
- Fueling accessibility: In America, at least, it seems like there is a gas station on every corner. It takes decades for these gas stations to convert over to electric charging stations, and in the meantime, the easy access that people have to purchase gas at a relatively low price will drive its continued demand on the market.
- Home repair: As modern cars become more digitized, it becomes harder and harder for home mechanics to repair cars without having to take them to a dealer or manufacturer. Even car repair shops are often forced to take cars to a dealership for digital reprogramming. Gas cars can be at least partially repaired by an amateur mechanic.
- Increased performance: Overall, gas cars perform better in terms of horsepower and speed than their electric counterparts. For car enthusiasts, this makes gas cars the more attractive choice every time.
- Easy to obtain service: Even if you aren’t a home mechanic, finding someone to service a gas car is as easy as opening a Google search engine. Even many rural towns have at least a half dozen auto repair shops to choose from. This makes it easy to find someone to fix your car if you drive a conventional vehicle.
- Variety in design: The models of electric cars are still very limited in comparison to gas cars, which come in hundreds of shapes, sizes, and colors. Electric car companies have gone to great lengths to make sure that their products are viewed as good-looking and sophisticated. However, they still don’t offer as much variety as the gas car market.
Just as there are some benefits to driving a gas car, though, there are also some distinct drawbacks. Here are some of the downsides of driving gas versus driving electric:
- More expensive to run: A gas car might be cheaper to buy on the front end, but over time the costs associated with fueling and repairing a gas car will be much higher than those of maintaining an electric car.
- More dangerous to drive: Because they are run on highly combustible gasoline, gas cars are inherently more dangerous in a wreck than an electric car. This is also the result of most electric cars being designed with the electric motor on the floor of the car rather than in the front end like most conventional gas vehicles.
- More frequent repairs: Gas cars break down relatively often compared to electric cars. Even if many of these repairs are simple, the cumulative frustration of having to make them can add stress and inconvenience to a person’s life.
- Oil dependency: Dependency on gas-powered vehicles makes an entire nation more vulnerable to price-gouging and other economic blows from international rivals, weakening that nation’s security. Oil dependency can also tie a country unwillingly to a country they otherwise would not have political dealings with.
- Bad for climate change: An average gas-powered car puts 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere every year. (Source: Environmental Protection Agency) Combine that number with the number of cars that are driven in the world each year, and you’ll see the source of a serious environmental crisis that has caused problems from wildfires to crop failures.
Both gas and electric cars have desirable qualities, which is one of the main reasons why we’ll continue to see a mixture of both on the road for decades to come. But the lifespan of gas cars will ultimately determine how long they’ll remain in service after electric cars become the dominant form of transportation.
How Long Do Gas Cars Last?
According to consumer reports, most gas cars only last around eight years. However, this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to the lifespan of a car. For example, a car that is maintained well may last many years longer than eight years, while a car that is neglected could have a significantly shorter life.
The short life span of a gas car has serious implications when it comes to the transition to electric transportation. If every car being manufactured in 2040 is an electric car, that means within a few decades of 2040, most of the gas cars in the world will be in such a state of disrepair that they’ll no longer be in service.
Gas car owners will likely continue to use their cars for as long as they can and as long as they have access to fueling stations. Because gas-powered cars and driving are such huge cultural touchstones in America, this transition is expected to take longer there than in countries such as Europe and China. The Chinese are the largest growing market for electric cars going into the 21st century.
How Long Do Electric Cars Last?
In comparison to gas cars, electric cars are looking to have a longer lifespan overall. As it stands, consumer reports state that most electric vehicles won’t require a replacement battery for 200,000 miles. The number of miles traveled per year varies from person to person. 200,000 miles is estimated to roughly 17 years of service at 12,000 miles per year. (Source: My EV)
Not only do electric car batteries last longer, the cost of replacing an electric car battery—while expensive—is not nearly as expensive as having to replace the entire motor on a gas car or the gas vehicle itself.
Related article: Do Electric Cars Lose Range Over Time? Here is the Data
Choosing Between a Gas and Electric Car
Investing in an electric car is a good option to go with if you can swing it, but it isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone. If you’re thinking about making the switch, here are a few things to think about:
- What does your car budget look like? Purchasing an electric car, compared to a gas car, is expensive, and the insurance isn’t cheap either. High costs can prevent some people from being able to invest in an electric car even if they want to.
- Where do you live? People who live in certain parts of the country have better access to charging ports and technical support for their electric car than people who live in more rural communities. Being far from an electric car repair center can also make any repairs or maintenance much more time-consuming and inconvenient.
- How far do you have to drive each day? Electric cars are best for drivers who have a short daily commute, as these vehicles do not like to sit idle, and they don’t have the range for longer trips. Someone who has to drive a lot each day may not be able to get the range they need out of an electric car.
- Can you do mechanical work? People who can do mechanical work can save a lot of money buying a gas car over an electric car since they can perform a majority of the repairs and maintenance themselves.
While it’s good to go with alternative energy sources when you can, it isn’t a viable choice for all drivers. Go over your options carefully to decide if investing in an electric car is the right decision for you.
Electric Cars Are Expanding in Scope
There are some major roadblocks to the growth of the electric car in the American market, but these cars are continuing to see expanded use elsewhere in the world. As the technology behind electric cars improves, it’s only a matter of time before these vehicles take over the roads from gas cars for good.