Skip to main content

The Electric Car Is Turning Cars Into Consumer Appliance

There is no denying the electric car, EV is a fundamental paradigm shift in an auto industry based on an unsustainable business model. The trick is to see how carmakers will make the jump successfully.

The electric car is probably the most puzzling left ball ever thrown at the auto industry. Almost a caricature of a self prophecy, the electric car is an inevitability created by an automobile world bent on a continuous self destruct path, based on outdated business models, topped by predictable failures, planned obsolesce and recurrent maintenance. All of this was built on a shortsighted unsustainable business practice that had to end.

Two Positives The Electric Car Forced The Industry
. A fundamental the concept of electric cars has forced the automobile industry to face was the fact that its business model made no sense for consumers. Electric cars have a few undeniable qualities, one of which is that they require close to no maintenance the first few ten thousands of miles. This has caused many headaches for an auto industry based on recurring fees after short selling its cars. Add an economic crash sugar coated as a recession and voila... the perfect storm instilled panic for investors and had consumer demand better mileage due to increasing gas prices. The auto industry has feverishly tackled the idea of selling cars that require close to no maintenance, a no small task considering how they all operate.

The second fundamental is that the idea of no maintenance and cheap operation inherent to EVs made carmakers realizes they could not stop on a dime and churn out electric cars. This forced many to rethink their strategy and finally make good on the dormant innovations of the past decades. Gas cars had to get serious about their weight problem. If gas engines had gotten somewhat better over the past, they were pushing obese bodies. If light and sturdy material are still expensive to use, the next best thing was to tweak engines to become even more frugal. The copious use of turbos, direct injections and better management of heat and airflow is now a common sight but it is counting its last days. Cars are becoming appliances...

A few companies realized that we won’t be able to burn dung in gas forever. At some point, we will switch to electric motors until we can find more sophisticated technologies. Electric cars have pushed the car industry into an unlikely alliance with the technology world. As Ford announced, their new alternative drive platforms are technogical, not just a transportation one. Better Place is already hinging on the idea of leasing battery packs and exchanging them on leased cars. Your car won’t be yours, per se but a transportation mode you will use to go from point A to B.

Is this a bad thing? For some who still cling on to our venerable pioneering old cars, it is a strange concept to grasp but a new generations hard wired into technology, a car as a consumer appliance is about as logical as sliced bread.


Brian Keez (not verified)    February 13, 2012 - 2:38PM

I agree, an EV is an appliance. An EV can do so much more than an internal combustion engine car. An EV can store electricity that can then be used to power a home, or several of them can power an office during peak grid hours.

I'm not sure many people can see that gasoline-burning cars are a continuous drain with very costly benefits or that it is by design.

Nicolas Zart    February 13, 2012 - 8:43PM

In reply to by Brian Keez (not verified)

Hi Brian, you're right, I think that is the fundamental that needs to change in the mind of consumers. Seeing their car as a multimedia center, an energy storage and transportation mean is a huge leap. It's an even bigger one for carmakers. Thanks for your comment, Nicolas

John W (not verified)    November 10, 2021 - 9:50AM

EV being a complete appliance, a rolling ipad is very bad thing in my view. Sure we can't keep burning gas forever, but who said we need to burn gas? We can easily use alcohol or some other plant based fuel instead of fossile fuel. EVs are terrible for environment because of complex electronics and main battery which is cost prohibitive to replace when EV becomes old. That means that when EV becomes more than 10 years old, it's likely to be headed for scrap yard. Cars based on ICE without much electronics can be kept running for decades. Look no further than Cuba where average ICE is 60 years old! There is no way any EV can reach even fraction of that age due to high cost of repair and replacing main battery when it wears out.