Why the Future of Cars is Electric


I was invited here, to Munich, by BMW the sponsor of this video to find out why the future of cars is electric. But electric cars are actually nothing new — they date back to 1832, well before the first gasoline-powered car. In fact, the first car to go faster than a hundred kilometers per hour was in 1899, an electric one, called the Jamais Contente, meaning “never satisfied”. But people were apparently satisfied with electric cars. By 1910, they were almost twice as common on American roads as internal combustion engines. But then came the Model T, which at $650 was significantly cheaper than comparable electric cars and as gas stations popped up around the country, they could be quickly refueled, allowing you to travel farther, faster, and cheaper than electric cars, which took a long time to recharge. So by 1935, the electric vehicle had been commercially obliterated. But electric cars were still useful for some things: in the vacuum of space, an electric vehicle was the obvious choice for the Apollo lunar roving vehicle. It was a single-use vehicle due to its non rechargeable silver zinc potassium hydroxide battery, and it had a range of just 92 kilometers. But the astronauts never needed even half of this range. At the Munich Olympics in 1972, to lead marathon runners in their race, BMW created an electric version of its two series car. The car ran on 12 large car batteries for a maximum range of 60 kilometers, or 37 miles. This demonstrated the benefits of electric vehicles: they can run quietly with no emissions. But it also illustrated their limitations: with the battery technology available at the time, electric cars were expensive and short-range, impractical for everyday use. So why are electric cars the future? In 2020, BMW is launching the IX3 all-electric sport utility vehicle, and they plan to have 25 electrified vehicles in their fleet by 2023. A lot of their concept cars, like the Vision M Next, are electric vehicles and they have a Formula-E car which can now run a whole race on a single battery pack. This is all made possible by developments in battery technology. Batteries have gotten a lot better, particularly with the introduction of lithium ion batteries. First used in mobile phones about 30 years ago, lithium ion batteries have almost two times more energy in the same volume than the next-best battery chemistry. Because of their use in many consumer products like phones and laptops, their manufacturing costs continue to decline, driven by manufacturing and supply chain optimization. Over the last three decades, the energy density has increased both per unit mass and per unit volume, while the price has plummeted. This is unlike internal combustion engines which, after a century of development, have few areas left for improvement. And the reality is, you don’t really travel that far in a car. The batteries available today are good enough for all but the longest road trips. In the US, 99% of trips are under 160 kilometers, or 100 miles. And electric cars are just better vehicles. Here are my top 10 reasons why: First: more torque from a standstill. 2. Thanks to the batteries under the floor, they have a low center of mass and so better handling. 3. Since you can drive electric motors independently, you can have precise control over each wheel for maximum traction. 4. Electric cars are quieter. 5. Electric cars are cheaper to run than gas cars, because gas is more expensive than electricity for the same distance traveled. 6. Electric cars are more efficient than gas cars, both in converting stored energy into energy of motion and in regenerating some of that energy when braking. 7. You never have to visit a gas station, because you can recharge at home. 8. There’s less maintenance: fewer moving parts, no oil changes, and the brakes wear out less often thanks to regenerative braking. 9. And depending on the source of electricity, in my case, solar panels, electric cars don’t produce any CO2 at all, so they don’t contribute to climate change. Plus, as cars become essentially computers on wheels, electric vehicles are leading the way towards self-driving cars. Alright we’re gonna start our ride in an autonomous vehicle, my first time ever: Level 4 autonomy. Once this becomes commonplace, it’s likely we’ll change how we see cars: from something we own that sits idle for most of its existence, to transportation as a service, something we ride in to get from point A to point B, and something we share with others. There are still a lot of details to work out, but it’s clear to me that the future of cars is electric, autonomous, and shared.

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14 thoughts on “Why the Future of Cars is Electric”

  1. Veritasium says:

    Judging from the comments and likes:dislikes, I missed the mark with this video. 
    I just want to make it clear that the failing was my own and not because of any brand talking points. They asked me what I wanted to talk about and I said 'how electric cars are the future.' They gave me total control over the script and video and didn't ask me to change a thing. Personally I didn't think this video was too branded because it's about electric cars in general. I drive an electric car and I like it a lot.

    I see a lot of the comments concerned that I didn't talk about the negatives of electric cars. That's because this video is about why electric cars are the future, not 'why electric cars have some challenges to overcome'. Some people interpret the lack of negatives like I was only allowed to say positive things. That's not true.

    Obviously in hindsight I should have talked about: 
    Electric cars are still expensive – sure but as I noted battery costs are coming way down and they're cheaper to run

    Electric cars produce more CO2 to manufacture than gas cars – but they compensate within 1-5 years by being more efficient and producing less to run

    Lithium mining isn't great for the environment – true but no mining is great for the environment (it takes a lot to make any car) and we can recycle the batteries a lot more cheaply than going back to mining the raw material. New battery designs are also reducing the amount of rare metals required.

    For long road trips you do need to take pit stops around charging stations.

    If you're thinking about people charging at night, how does that affect the electricity grid? I personally think it's a good thing because it evens out demand, which is usually highest during the day.

    Hydrogen fuel cell cars – this is just something I personally don't see happening because there's not enough existing infrastructure. Electricity is everywhere, easily charge at your house. Hydrogen is not. When I was graduating college in 2004 hydrogen fuel cell cars were meant to be right around the corner. They're still very fringe.

  2. TheMarsBus says:

    Electric car is only good for taking a joy ride here and there. Other than that its useless. Gasoline and diesel engine will never die.

  3. Aaron M says:

    "You don't really drive that far in a car"

    Said no Texan ever.

  4. TheyCalledMeT says:

    even if i have to strongly disagree on the point "electic cars don't produce any co2 at all" they're produced and production makes a vast chunk of the co2 produced in the lifetime of a car .. i love the idea of electric cars. just don't over praise them .. their time has come and they have huge potential .. but they're not as good as we're told ..
    another realy nice idea i love is .. by having an electric car at every home .. you would have a massive "there anyways" battery for a smart grid allowing to compensate for the biggest weakness of renewable energies .. (24/7 availablility in the amount required)

  5. Business Ideas says:

    come on guys. the one guy u could believe in youtube is he. m sure he is not sponsered.

  6. ScytheNoire says:

    I think the answer to the electric car problems are in new battery technology. That is what you should make a video about, as I've seen some interesting stories of new, safer, cleaner materials.

  7. Carlos Malave says:

    ANY Tesla would've been BETTER than that BMW I3 .

  8. stockholm17 says:

    Ok, but how is the electricity being generated? And what happens when everyone is driving electric cars? Will we all be hooked up to renewable energy sources? So many questions, I know.

  9. Danio Domingues says:

    Superb work champ

  10. bahhaziz says:

    Car future is electric if its self charging 😎

  11. spamfr pfa says:

    self driving cars without pilot? There will be graffitis in all those cars.

  12. James Harold says:


  13. Lorenzo Davide Dodi says:

    Definetly not gonna be shared

  14. Washington Hoax says:

    Batteries only work well enough where a climate is 40 to 90 Degrees on flat grade roads under 7%.
    You can't Haul loads or climb steep grade mountains nor operate below sustained freezing temperatures (including 100+ Degree temps). A battery is still a chemical reaction. You waste energy to transmit – charge – discharge that doesn't do anything to move the vehicle.
    Freezing and overheating batteries shorten battery life (no matter the Chemistry) to no practical return on utilized resource costs. Lithium is extremely unstable, toxic and volatile. A flooded (under water) electric will be a meltdown unstoppable fire at any moment even drying out. Once the computer used to control the battery fails – its blastoff time. Read the label on your Laptop battery – An electric car is just a Laptop on wheels.

  15. LiftedStarfish says:

    The reason many people think that this video is too branded is because you cannot talk about the recent rise of electric cars without talking about Tesla. Tesla made electric cars cool, and not talking about their influence on the market of electric vehicles in a video about electric vehicles is laughable.

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