The automotive industry is finally taking real substantive steps away from reliance on petroleum. Electric passenger vehicles are setting record sales. A lot of people, myself included are fully onboard for ditching the fumes, noise and high maintenance costs of ICE vehicles. Even more significantly work trucks, courier vehicles and heavy transport are all in rapid production and will be in circulation quite shortly. This is, I believe the real corner. America loves cars and people will argue all day long about which hot rod is cooler. But people who rely on vehicles for their livelihood will gravitate toward the more cost effective option. Even at the cost of their pride. Anyone who has ever worked in a motor pool will immediately appreciate the nearly non existent down time of new electric vehicles. All the biggest companies are onboard. Pre orders for delivery vehicles of all sizes are filled within days of the respective announcement. Many companies are opting to collaborate on construction and distribution to further accelerate the transition.
I think this is a very good thing on balance. The effort to dominate distribution of petroleum has, in my opinion caused as much harm as almost anything I can think of. The option of energy independence would be good for the whole world.
But there are liabilities of course:
Auto mechanics will lose jobs. Even if they pursue a rapid education in the new technology and are able to maintain electric engines there will still be far less work
The shift in infrastructure will delay a lot of of the benefit. As individual consumers makes the transition in larger numbers the velocity of production combined with the disposal of older vehicles will create a lot of waste and pollution and offset the benefit for some time while the infrastructure stabilizes.
Other natural resources, particularly lithium could conceivably become a motive for imperial ambition the way that petroleum is now.
Drivers will lose jobs if truly functional autonomy emerges and gains official approval. This seems likely.
I think gas station owners could likely skate by embracing a hybrid business model and following the change in demand as it occurs. I’m surprised that I don’t see more of them doing this but some are.
The benefits of electric vehicles far outweigh the costs, and perhaps the ICE vehicles will become looked down upon as electric cars are now.
I have a dream. . . electric self-driving vehicles.
- no more time spent driving someone somewhere, like parents who chauffeur kids.
- freeway capacity will increase since cars will be able to “speak” with each other and close the gap between cars.
- freeway speeds will increase if cars can speak with each other
- no more road rage, slow drivers holding up traffic, no more lunatics going too fast, or drunk drivers
- no more traffic tickets
- insurance rates drop
- no need for a driver’s license
- old people will still have mobility
- most cars spend 90% of their lives taking up space, so a family could get by with one car since it could be called to pick up its passengers when needed.
- no more distracted drivers
- we could probably do away with private ownership of cars and instead rely on ride-sharing services already in place, such as Lyft and Uber.
- a severe reduction in road signage
- driving a car to work is horribly unproductive time which could be spent reading, or sleeping, or eating, or just relaxing
- and most important - a drop in traffic accidents which kill and maim 10’s of thousands of people every year, and the associated property damage.
I’m not 100% sold that we’ll lose jobs in total, but there will continue to be changes in how the workforce is structured.
An interesting example was ATMs. When ATMs were introduced and widespread, banks actually hired more tellers. An individual branch needed fewer tellers, but also less space and infrastructure. Small subsidiary branches became a viable option. More locations meant hiring more tellers. The overall net effect was to increase the size of the workforce.
Long-haul trucking will need an increase in labor force managing the trucks, but that labor force will be more stationary that it was before. Instead of moving with the trucks, the workers will stay in place, inspecting the trucks when they stop for refueling, conducting the refuel, and performing any maintenance. Also, because of the energy density requirements for LHT, ICE’s will remain relevant for a while longer in that industry. That means it’s possible that they’ll be automated ICE trucks before there are automated electric trucks.
Will LHT employ more, fewer, or the same number of people as now? I don’t know. The nature of jobs will change, but whether there are fewer is not a guarantee.
Yeah. The net job situation could potentially be better for a lot of reasons. It will make independent courier, delivery and transport services a lot more viable. Especially if the full robo taxi technology is widely approved. Tightening the traffic pattern and eliminating collisions will give people more time to earn. The economy will adapt. Still, there is always a subset that get left behind in any paradigm shift. The trucking industry will change drastically. It’s possible for the better but the key here is, I think not the technology but rather the legislation and the kind of cooperative attitude it takes make a transition in a way where the interests of people are a priority. Analogies with previous revolutions are apt. Right now truckers work absurd hours for terrible pay and tend to hire people that cannot find work elsewhere as a result. Trucking companies regularly pay out huge settlements for collisions and for the medical problems caused by over work. I think this is a typical of the kind of management that cannot see the forest for the trees and simply takes every opportunity to cut short term costs and slowly destroys their own company in the process. My hope is that the industry starts from scratch with some basic labor rights and protections.