Car crash?

The opportunity for electric car conversion startups

By 2025/30 I think the majority of new cars sold will be electric only. The signals from governments that they’re going to ban fossil fuel engines will start to shift consumer behaviour much sooner than the dates the bans are actually scheduled to come in. Frankly, I can’t see many of the big car companies making it much longer than 2025/30 either. Not because they don’t have the technology to become electric car companies but because they were too slow to shift their investment programmes. They’re going to make a big loss on the investments they’re still making now in things like more efficient petrol or diesel engines which will put them at a huge financial disadvantage to companies only investing in developing electric car technologies.

But I think the bigger problem for the big car companies is the way they’ve tried to change the nature of car ownership. There was a little mention of it on the Today programme this morning — almost nine in ten cars are leased or on some form of finance rather than owned outright so it’s looking like there will be a glut of second hand cars in a few years time. If you take into account that many of those cars will be diesel and by that point it will be clear that they won’t be welcome in cities, you start to wonder whether there’s a big crash coming. Ultimately the people who own the majority of the cars on the roads are the big leasing companies which in turn are linked to the manufacturers. They have great cash flow but will they be able to weather the storm of a huge drop in value when electric becomes the only thing that people want? It doesn’t look like it to me.

Which brings me to the opportunity. Everything apart from the propulsion system in modern cars is amazing. They’re safer, quieter and more comfortable than they’ve ever been. In a few years time there will be millions of chassis that nobody want on the market which I’m guessing will be pretty inexpensive. The opportunity I see is in converting them to run electrically by taking the engines out and replacing them with motors and batteries. It’s not completely straightforward but it may well be much cheaper option for many people than buying a new electric car.

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