Oil industry trade mag asks: Is Tesla’s Model S the beginning of the end for oil?


Not all in the oil industry are inclined to dismiss EVs as a passing fad.

In a recent article in the trade magazine Alberta Oil, Max Fawcett writes, “The Tesla Model S is one of the most beautiful and interesting automobiles to ever get made. It might also be one of the most dangerous. That’s because it’s managed to do something that no other electric vehicle has ever achieved: become an object of desire.”

“Creative disruption has already wracked most major industries, and it’s wrecked more than a few of them in the process,” the article continues. “If it’s going to visit itself upon the fossil fuel industry, it’s almost certain to take the form of an electric vehicle [and] that could happen a lot sooner than some people might want to think.”

The article includes an interview with Steve LeVine, author of The Powerhouse, a new book about the global race to build a better EV battery. LeVine has spoken with others in the fossil fuel industry who are well aware of the threat that improving battery technology poses to their livelihoods.

Among other interesting insights, LeVine points out that gaining the Grail “doesn’t have to happen in the way some people are imagining. A big breakthrough can happen by twinning a hybrid model of battery – a super capacitor with a battery, or a fuel cell with a battery. These are all different forms of electrochemistry. There can also be a partial breakthrough in batteries and a partial breakthrough in manufacturing that, together, get you to where you need to be on the cost curve to be fully competitive with combustion.”

Ironically, Exxon was the company that built the first rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Could any of the oil giants get into the battery business? “Generally, the big incumbent companies tend to hold back and assume that when a new technology reaches the critical stage, it can swoop in and buy up anyone,” answers LeVine. “I don’t think you can say they’ve missed the boat. They think they can get on the boat. Could ExxonMobil or Chevron buy a battery company that made this big breakthrough? Yes.”

LeVine is no starry-eyed optimist – he speaks of a big battery breakthrough happening “in the next few decades.” But what he has to say is unlikely to improve the sleeping habits of the oil-addicted. “Demand for oil isn’t going to disappear…but the demand for it could plunge. It could really plunge.”


Source: Alberta Oil

  • http://www.gospacego.com/ David Sharp

    Secretly Big Oil must be quacking in it’s tar covered boots. The simple fact in EVs are better vehicles – period. The world is catching on to this and the genie is out of the bottle. Fossil fuel has it’s day in the sun and now it’s time to move on.

  • Cape Coral RE Broker

    Driving an EV is 5 times cheaper than gas where I live, and the maintenance savings go directly to my retirement account instead of the dealership service department. I hate oil changes and tune ups, what a waste of money!

    • LeifV

      Oil change & tune ups ain’t the big problem… its all built-in frauds based on “planned obsolescence” draining the wallet. These frauds are increasing fast, for every year -nowadays also computer assisted…

  • Electric Bill

    As mentioned in the article, LeVine says the breakthrough or breakthroughs could be in multiple areas– battery chemistry, supercapacitor advances, fuel cells (not likely in my opinion), and others.

    Some of the “breakthroughs” I expect to be major disruptors will be rather low-tech by comparison, such as somewhat ubiquitous inductive charging plates throughout an area, allowing cars to charge up for a few seconds at a time, whenever they are waiting at stop lights, stop signs, fast-food drive-throughs, etc.

    This would make large battery packs unnecessary in heavily traveled urban and suburban areas. Inductive charging is less efficient than direct cable connections, but can be offset by the smaller, lighter, cheaper battery packs they would carry.

    RFID or other systems could automatically log times, locations and fees collected for each EV using the inductive chargers, and drivers would not be required to use them– they could have the option of charging at home by renewable sources such as home solar.

    Video cameras could record the EV makes, models, locations, driving routes, etc., making spoofing and fraud very hard and risky to attempt.

  • EVPerks.com

    Can you imagine….”I have to charge my Chevron EV Battery!”

  • tigertoo

    I am pretty sure the world would agree, even the petrol heads, That the majority of people would like to see the back of big oil. I myself love the sound of a big V8 and will miss it if it ever disappears all together. But I would not miss the mundane POS camry,accord or anything else for the masses being replaced by a clean efficient Tesla or equivalent. I see the mass adoption of electric cars as a way to protect the V8. They are the only ICE worth keeping. There is a great history and culture associated with the V8 but it has to be a niche industry that has a low impact on our atmosphere and environment. A small V8 industry could even be supported by renewable bio fuels. This is most definitely the future. Electric is most definitely the future for mass transport.