Will Ford and GM be able to adapt fast enough to EV's

Will Ford and GM be able to adapt fast enough to EV's

Will GM and Ford be able to adapt fast enough to avoid bankruptcy in the next recession?
If Tesla can produce millions of vehicles four years from now and there is a
recession, will Ford and GM be able to survive with inferior EV cars.

SamO | 13 januari 2017

Nope. And add Fiat and Renault to the cheater deathwatch.

reed_lewis | 13 januari 2017

There is still a large market for ICE cars and trucks. The percentage of electric cars sold is insignificant to the numbers of cars GM and Ford sells.

Until Tesla has a complete product line (sedans, SUVs, Pickup Trucks, MiniVans), the existing car companies are going to do just fine. Even if Tesla had the complete product line, there will always be a market in the short and medium term (next 20-30 years) for ICE vehicles.

risingsun | 13 januari 2017

@reed_lewis no there won't always be a market for ICE if EV's offer a better value which they absolutely will within 10 years.

reed_lewis | 13 januari 2017

I think that it will take longer than 10 years to completely displace the sales of ICE. While those of us who are used to EVs enjoy them and find them to be very useful, there will always be people who do not feel that an EV is appropriate for them.

Plus with the very large infrastructure of gas fueling stations compared to EV charging stations, it will take a long time before EVs sell more than ICE There is exactly one two stall public J-1772 charging station in a 10 mile radius from my house. OTOH, there are probably 100 gas stations.

SamO | 13 januari 2017

ICE is dead, like a chicken with it's head cut off, but still running around think it runs the roost. New Fuel Efficiency Standards finalized today say otherwise.

El Mirio | 13 januari 2017

Wonder if the EPA announcement is driving the Tesla stock today, 50 mpg average will require a lot of PHEV's.
How long will it take to produce BEV's cheaper then PHEV's?

SamO | 13 januari 2017

@El Mirio,

Starting July 1, 2017

El Mirio | 13 januari 2017

@SamO true for Tesla.

sosmerc | 13 januari 2017

PHEV's are going to become more numerous and the major oem's will rely on those sales to tide them over until BEV's can truly meet everyone's needs. Even if the majors had a whole line of BEV's available tomorrow, the market is not prepared for it. It's probably a good thing that the transition from ICE to BEV is going to take some time.

Remnant | 13 januari 2017

@sosmerc (January 13, 2017)

<< Even if the majors had a whole line of BEV's available tomorrow, the market is not prepared for it. >>

If the GF starts to produce the new chemistry (2170?) cells and batteries, or adopts some new ones out of the slew cropping up all around us (Ryden, Grabat, Gold Nanowire, whatever), Tesla has a "yuge" advantage over the competition, whether in terms of MS, MX, M☰, or (still a figment) MY.

With a 500 mile range and a recharge time of 5 minutes or less, Tesla will be a no-contest winner all around.


Rocky_H | 13 januari 2017

It is going to take a lot more than 4 years or 10 years for significant displacement (Ha ha!) of the existing gas car market inertia. You do have to remember that just because something may probably be objectively better by the numbers, people don't change what they do from statistics somewhere. For any kind of habit or behavior change, people need to first go through some process that shows them or makes them dissatisfied with what they are doing. People have been buying and driving gas vehicles for decades, and they have been meeting their needs just fine during all that time.

It takes a lot to convince someone to try something that is "new-fangled" and different, especially if no one they know has done it either. A car is the biggest purchase aside from a house for people, and most people are nervous to be the first person they know of to take the big risk with a purchase that big, when they have a known alternative that will do exactly what they expect and have been comfortable with. That's the way it's always been, and it is hard to move people out of that.

El Mirio | 13 januari 2017

The OEM's will have an incentive to push BEV's once they are able to produce those cheaper then PHEV's, question is when OEM's will reach that threshold.

SamO | 13 januari 2017

Self driving cars are a multiplying force in the transition to electric vehicles.

risingsun | 13 januari 2017

No, it would be very easy to convince someone to buy a a superior EV with sufficient range which can charge quickly. An EV will be exactly like an ICE only you can fill up at home for cheaper and you will have more space in your car and it will be safer and faster. Very easy sell once EV's reach a range/charge speed threshold

flight505 | 13 januari 2017

Ford and GM are waiting for the right time, I guess. Ford does have a big electric car program - $4.5 billion and expects to have 13 different EV's on the road by 2020. Maybe Ford and GM will take advantage of battery advances to sell to the mass market. A company like Lucid will be very small production for at least the first few years with models over $100,000.

brando | 14 januari 2017

Reed Lewis - most everyone charges at home. Don't you have electricity at your home? You don't need a charging station to go charge up your EV, just plug in at home.

reed_lewis | 14 januari 2017

Many of my co workers at software company live in apartments and condos with shared parking. There is no place for them to install a charging station in their spot because they do not have a spot. I live in a house with a garage so yes I charge at home.

But for many (probably half) who are well paId software engineers an EV would be difficult to charge based on current infrastructure. They have no place to leave the car to charge. Now that MIGHT change but not for a long time.

We all know about the busy SCs in CA. Imagine if there were 10 times as many cars?

Before EVs become mainstream, there needs to be a major infrastructure increase.

It will happen, but I believe it will be more like 20-30 years.

bish | 15 januari 2017

Next to home, the place we spend most of our time is at work. So the most logical location to install charging stations is at places of employment. And since you will be there for 8 hours or more, the chargers do not have to be high powered. Nema 14 50 outlets will work fine.

Reed-----what if you lobbied your employer for some 1450 outlets and got a few installed. Would your co workers be more inclined to go EV?

dchuck | 15 januari 2017

@reed_lewis and @ Bish

In addition to what bish said about the length of time at work there is also the issue of utilization. If you park at home you basically have that parking space for all the time your at home. Not a big deal if you own your own home but not good if your in a multi family unit.

If you plugin at work and your car is charged up you can easily take a break from work and move it so that someone else can use the spot. So overall utilization goes up. in some cases you could get 2-4 cars charged in a day so long as peoples commute is short enough, and your employer doesn't have a problem with people leaving for 5 minutes to move their cars.

The employer gets to promote the fact they are good for the environment and can use EV charging as a recruitment tool for future hires.

Employee's are happy because they have a place to charge.


Back to your original question... I believe they have already lost, because of something they have no control over. it's not the cars or the motors, its the batteries that is going to drive them out of business. All gas goes in cars but not all cars use gas. It might take 5-10 years to see the eventual demise but it will not take a recession to put them out of business.

All the major car manufacturers are going to struggle, but not because they are doing anything wrong but it is simply a supply and demand issue. LG, Samsung, Panasonic, etc.. Can charge whatever they want for the batteries they provide. Ford and GM assume that these manufacturers can can provide them all the batteries they need, but they are only looking at a fleet of 10's to 100's of thousands of cars (ie the bolt). Not the millions they will need to build. So your the head of LG and both Ford and GM come knocking at your door for 60GWH of batteries (60kwh x 1,000,000 cars). If you were Mr. LG what would you charge them if you could only produce 30GWH of batteries a year?

Ford and GM will have will have to shop around to different manufacturers to get the supply they need and pay through the nose because the suppliers can charge whatever they want.

Only Tesla has thought far enough ahead to actually ADD to the total amount of Lithium Ion batteries available in the world. AND they are producing them all for themselves and no one else. (at least for now)

All the other car manufacturers are at the mercy of the battery folks and it takes years to build another Gigafactory. Tesla broke ground on Gigafactory 1 June 2014 and it finally started producing cells last month. That is 2.5 years to get up and running.

These folks are done unless they start building their own Batteries or make strategic alliances with Battery companies to start building Gigafactories tomorrow.

mscott | 15 januari 2017

@dchuck, LG, Samsung, and other battery manufacturers have announce new battery formats/formulations and new factories to make them. Everybody who is paying attention to anything besides Trump knows world demand for batteries is about to surge and the existing players are all preparing for that. The genius of the GF is not so much the increase in capacity as it is establishing a secure supply of batteries at a more predictable cost. All the other manufacturers will be in competition for the batteries from these 3rd party suppliers and prices could become unstable, much as oil, or any other commodity often is. (Think DRAM price fluctuations in previous decades.) But I think it's naive to believe there won't be enough batteries available from the other manufacturers in the medium- and long-term as demand for BEVs increases. It's because Tesla is so far ahead of the BEV demand curve that they HAD to build their own battery factory. And that necessity will almost certainly bear other fruit for Tesla besides allowing them to simply build 500,000 cars/year.

I thought I even saw a story about Tesla investing in a lithium mine so it has a more secure supply of raw materials. I know they've stuck deals with Nevada mines to buy lithium.

As an investor, I think my biggest concern would be a breakthrough technology that makes LI batteries obsolete and therefore requiring a huge overhaul of the GF to remain competitive in the new battery space. I don't think there's any such thing looming out there, but you never know. Disruptors can still get disrupted.

Dramsey | 15 januari 2017

Also, the price of lithium is skyrocketing:

A competitive non-lithium battery chemistry would be a game changer...

reed_lewis | 15 januari 2017

Since I work in Downtown Boston where parking is at a major premium (an average day parking in Boston is over $40 for one day), most of my co-workers who live in multi family dwellings take public transportation to work. They have a car for their other travels. I actually park in the building in my office, and it costs over $350 a month to park there. They have installed four J-1772 Chargepoint chargers just this week, but that is a small drop in the bucket compared to the size of the garage underneath the building.

Remember, things are different here in Boston compared to other places where parking is plentiful, and everyone lives in a single family home.

Until the infrastructure exists to fully support the numbers of EVs that will grow year over year, there will be no way for many people to be able to successfully operate an EV.

Again, I feel that EVs will eventually be preferable to ICE, but that will take a lot longer than 10 years.

johnse | 15 januari 2017

In Seattle the hip places to live are in the city, and the city is purposely not making enough parking...trying to force more public transportation use and carpooling. Capitol Hill has lots of apartments with only street parking. There are lots of businesses in that are which have little to no parking for employees.

The popular refrain of charge at home or at work doesn't work for lots of people. We are going to need a vast increase in hyperchargers (and batteries that can be charged that quickly) before these people can change to BEV.

I think it will happen, and relatively quickly. But it won't be the end of the legacy won't be something that changes that quickly.

The conversion to full BEV will also require significant changes to the electrical grid. Tens of millions of cars charging multiple hours per day at homes will significantly increase residential loads. Distributed solar will and grid scale batteries will help, but it will require massive changes.

sosmerc | 15 januari 2017

You bring up some excellent points about the challenges to city dwellers that may want to own a BEV. Those of us that live outside of the city and own our own homes are in a much better position to make the transition. Where I live it is a 25-30 minute drive anytime we need to go into town for groceries, etc. Owning a car is practically a requirement if we want to have any freedom of movement. Frankly, I had not given all that much thought to all of the people that live in cities and don't even own a car. Many seem to manage just fine without. We really are up against some major challenges with regards to upgrading the whole grid system to adjust to the coming changes. Kind of like the space program, we are entering a new era.

David N | 15 januari 2017

Will GM and Ford be able to adapt fast enough to avoid bankruptcy in the next recession?......No

dchuck | 16 januari 2017

@mscott - by no means is this a definitive list (and if you have a better one i would love to see it)

- foxconn 15GW - online in 2017
- BYD 20GW - 2020
- boston power 10GW - 2020
- LG chem (poland = 229,000 vehicles per year) 2019
- Samsung SDI - (hungary = enough batteries for 50,000 vehicles) - 2018
- SK innovation - 3GWh - 2018

By my count that is 48GWh + 16.7GWh (60kw x 279,000cars) = 64.7GWh of extra capacity so yeah a lot of capacity is coming on line. but half will not be online until 2019-2020.

dchuck | 16 januari 2017


Naive or not I stand by my statement, There are simply not enough batteries around, not now, and not in 4 years time based on the current rate of battery factory development. If Ford and GM don't build what they need to compete, starting today, they will be at the mercy of the market.

dchuck | 16 januari 2017


Lithium Ion batteries have been under development for more than 20 years before it was cheap and powerful enough to put a 60kw battery pack in a car. Take any you currently hear about now and add 20 years. that is when they will be a competitor in the car segment.

dchuck | 16 januari 2017


as for Tesla, the GF is only 14% complete by volume. They could easily switch to a new type of battery cell if something better came along.

dchuck | 16 januari 2017

Sorry to all for the multiple posts, for whatever reason the spam filter would not let me put this information in one.

dchuck | 16 januari 2017


Lithium might be skyrocketing but it is still only a small % of the cost of the battery. It could easily double or quadruple in price and not make much of a difference. it is more likely that a different formulation or even form factor will come about to make the 2170 Tesla is using obsolete. New technologies are hugely expensive in the beginning, it will be years before any ground breaking new battery can compete with Li in $ per watt. Maybe in electronics where you need the smallest lightest battery possible but in a car you can sacrifice a little performance in order to make the battery as cheap as possible.

SamO | 16 januari 2017

Lithium is the "salt" in the stew. A few sprinkles will do.

Captain_Zap | 16 januari 2017

I thought it was the salt in the salad...

Dramsey | 16 januari 2017

Hm. My Google-Fu claims 0.75g-1.0g of lithium in a typical 18650 cell. Tesla battery packs (85kWh) have 7,104 batteries, so for easy math we'll call that 7 kilograms of lithium.

Lithium prices are super volatile now but seem to be around $7,500 per metric ton (1000kg). So the total cost of lithium in a 85kWh battery pack would be about $525. So, yeah, not a huge percentage of the car's cost.

Regarding the big ICE auto companies: remember, they're being held back by their management. They have lots and lots of very smart engineers. And, more importantly, huge manufacturing facilities and massive supply chains. I think when-- well, if-- management ever gets serious about BEVs, they'll be able to crank them out pretty quickly.

Efontana | 16 januari 2017

Cultural change takes a long time.

SamO | 16 januari 2017


I couldn't remember the exact analogy.


sosmerc | 16 januari 2017

It is indeed a cultural change that will take time. Sort of like a slow shift towards getting average folks to do the little things that can improve their environment. Such as doing more recycling, using less plastic, switching to battery operated garden tools, burning less wood, etc. Economics also is a big factor. I think that alot of people would like to eat healthier as well, but it is more expensive to eat healthy.

dchuck | 16 januari 2017

@ dramsey

i agree most major car manufacturers have more than enough talent and capacity to build an EV in volume. Hence why my comments are only about batteries.

mscott | 16 januari 2017


Thanks for the thoughtful responses.

"By my count that is 48GWh + 16.7GWh (60kw x 279,000cars) = 64.7GWh of extra capacity so yeah a lot of capacity is coming on line. but half will not be online until 2019-2020."

Thanks for the list. That's actually more than what I was aware of.

So 65GWh is enough to make more than a million 60KWh EVs. I really hope that the auto manufacturers have demand for 1M (in addition to Tesla's 500K) EVs per year in four years, but that seems very optimistic. But if it's not, the high prices that extra demand generates will spur more battery factory expansion.

I think we at least agree that in the short term (next 1-5 years) there could be more demand than supply and that will keep prices high for the other manufacturers. I think where we disagree is in how quickly the market will balance that demand. (I guess if we get a Li equivalent to OPEC, that could be a long time.*) We're talking about big, industrial companies that have a lot of capacity to scale up production to meet demand. I really think the big question is the demand side more than the supply side.

"Lithium Ion batteries have been under development for more than 20 years before it was cheap and powerful enough to put a 60kw battery pack in a car. Take any you currently hear about now and add 20 years. that is when they will be a competitor in the car segment."

Maybe. The demand for so much energy storage was nowhere near as high 20 years ago as it is today or will be in 10 years. Technologies that don't have as apparent a demand can take a lot longer to develop than those where the demand is already huge and obvious. It's often a matter of how much money can be thrown into R&D. It's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future ;-), but I agree that it's unlikely we'll see a commercially viable challenger to LI in the next 5 years. It's much less clear where we'll be in 10 years.

"as for Tesla, the GF is only 14% complete by volume. They could easily switch to a new type of battery cell if something better came along."

Right, but how much will be complete (and how many billions spent) by the time they're making 500,000 cars per year? That said, it's a risk all the battery manufacturers face equally, and frankly, as a resident of the planet, I hope this investment risk plays out.

*But unlike oil, lithium isn't consumed by the battery--it's at least technically recoverable at the end of the life of the battery. This recycled Li won't become readily available until large numbers of old packs wear out, so it will be at least one and probably two decades before that is a factor in Li prices, and only then if its price-competitive to reclaim the used Li.

bgbythsea | 16 januari 2017

Lithium is getting all the attention. Is there information out there regarding how much Cobalt will be needed?

Sleepydoc1 | 16 januari 2017

So if there is about $525 worth of Li in a Tesla 85 kWh battery, how much platinum is in many catalytic converters? What is the mining cost of that metal etc? Small amount, but very expensive metal. Li (as shown on the graph) was $7000 for 2000lbs. About $3.50 a pound. Platinum is right about $1000/oz. And that is only to process the exhaust.

johnse | 16 januari 2017

@Dramsey @Sleepydoc1 that calculation was off by a factor of 10. Lithium cost for the quantity and price listed is only $52.50.

grega | 17 januari 2017

There are several ripple effects we're likely to see as well during the disruption.

Firstly, as EVs become the same price as similar ICEVs, inertia will keep ICEVs selling well (and lack of charging, and avoidance of "unknown", and lower availability of EVs). EVs will be increasingly popular especially for people with charging available at home or work... and they'll continue to get cheaper.

It's when people start noticing that EVs are cheaper and perform better that things get interesting. Plus they're cheaper to run and cheaper to service. If Ford and GM are selling more expensive, smelly, lower performance cars then many people will buy the EVs instead, leaving Ford and GM.

To a degree, it won't matter if there aren't enough EVs. Or even if the precise car they want is only available as an ICEV. If it's clearly better, people will see that ICEVs have a limited life and will delay their big purchase. And lease prices for ICEVs will increase if the predicted second hand value of the car drops. New ICEVs will drop in price to offset lower sales.

Regardless of whether there is enough EV volume, people don't have to be sure that EVs are the future, just cautious because buying a new (or used) car is a big outlay - and they may choose to defer their decision a year.

Even people who want an EV may have no place to charge at home or work as has been said by others above. They'll either need a hyper-charger (as someone called it earlier) or a way of sending their car off to charge itself overnight - or stick to an ICEV or Hybrid.

The other big disruptor is transport-as-a-service. If I'm delaying buying a new car and at the same time I can "uber" a self-driving car at a cheap rate, things could change very quickly. The limited availability of EVs if offset by 5-10 times better usage of self-driving and self-charging EVs. Plus no-one has to worry about range in this scenario. No upfront costs, no need to park, no need to charge. Cheaper to run than your own car has appeal and if you doubt it but you're delaying your car purchase anyway then it's a great time to try. It also changes how you use a car as it makes some use cases much more convenient.

So all up... you want to be an EV car company that is securing its battery options, with good automation plans. Conversely if you aren't nimble enough to move with the change that's not a good place to be.

I think all the big car manufacturers now see it coming and are trying to prepare for it... but I think the transition will be quick and Ford and GM will have trouble.

brando | 17 januari 2017

johnse +42
arithmetic, is that taught anymore?
note that nickel and cobalt both cost even more per battery

Will the Feds bailout big auto again?

brando | 17 januari 2017

grega gets most sane man award nomination, do we have any seconds?

Great overview Greg.

brando | 13 februari 2017

Time to watch/listen to Tony Seba Disruption
Google search above and pick your venue
below is one of the youtube clips



brando | 12 maart 2017

120 volts with 30 amps

Would this be just fine for work charging? 8 to 12 hours and no need to move your car?

Bighorn | 12 maart 2017

A 30A/120V outlet is fairly rare and would require a special adapter with a TT-30 male--optimal output would be 8-9 rated miles per hour. Most 30A outlets are 240V and charge twice as fast--usually a dryer outlet, while the 120V version is found at RV parks.

DavidDJ | 13 maart 2017

I will say this based on the commercials they are running across the nation and at a price point well under Tesla's their cars can stop when the drivers fails to in time to prevent an accident. It wouldn't Tesla much to incorporate that feature into existing cars with a firmware update. It can do it now but only when the cruise control is engaged. We. Eednit on residential streets too.

brando | 13 maart 2017

Bighorn -

So 64 miles per day at work would seem fine for many?
33 miles/day is 12,000 miles/year which is the average for many drivers, right?

I have no idea if cheaper to install (for businesses) 30A 120v vs 240v.
I thought 30A circuits more common in business/office construction. I really don't know.