Electromagnetic road pricing

Many ideas are bubbling up to address the driving range of electric vehicles (EVs). This one (thanks Leon), albeit with a large infrastructure hurdle, would compound the need for road pricing, because the road itself would be charging the batteries.

There is also a lot of resistance to the electric vehicle. David Booth (aka Motormouth), is adamant that EVs are losers and is one of Canada's leading automotive journalists. We should ask why, shouldn’t we?

Booth is adamant EVs are losers in order to sell print. Few readers of newsprint want to read that EVs are improving, that there is a small and growing market, that current demand outstrips supply, that there are many thousands of engineers working on the problem? Such readers want to know which car to buy now. This year.

And no one wants a lecture about how demand grows markets, that markets push technology, that disruption feeds demand, that unexpected breakthroughs happen, and that tomorrow is generally like today only in structure but never in detail. Not everyone needs to buy an EV to change the equation Booth thinks cannot change.

But what happens after 10% do?
Booth is one of Canada's leading automotive journalists, because newspapers sell cars, and damning EVs is good for the ad-men for the internal combustion engine (ICE). The truth about EVs is that at some point there will be a lot more of them, that they will serve some subset of the market (likely between 20-60% by 2050), that they will demand some thought from engineers that worry about electricity grids (they are already thinking), that they will worsen congestion, that as soon as they hit 5-7%, they will force the institution of road-use charging, that users of ICEs will pay both fuel tax and road use charges, and that that will accelerate EV sales.

Booth is right that only a small group of greenies will today sacrifice long-haul travel for the feel-good of owning an EV. But as soon as that small group is large enough to force government’s hand to deal with mess road funding is currently in, a tipping point will occur. The evolution of battery and charging technology is just that – evolutionary. The revolution will come from a tax shift.

If Booth were to encourage readers to anticipate the EV, a small percentage of people might wait one or two more years before they get their next car – just in case selection improves. This is not a good thing for newspapers who rely on automotive ads.

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