Why the Future of Cars is Electric

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.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. 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. You are going to have to pry my Miata´s keys from my dead cold fingers. I will not give up on ICE vehicles, like Spooner on that MV Agusta Tamburini

  3. i dont want to share my car…and i like driving……future generations will miss out on a major thrill of life 🙁

  4. The Internal Combustion Engine just needs the DOT's of the various world governments, to allow for hydrogen fuel tanks on the roadways. The Wankel Rotary engine, was used in research of a petroleum fuel replacement, to prove that hydrogen fuel for Internal Combustion Engines was very feasible. Electric vehicles are not the future, no battery is ever going to contain enough USABLE charge to accomplish the same amount of work over a length of time period that an Internal Combustion Engine can on one tank of fuel. Yes Electric Vehicles have their niche. The production of the batteries and the vehicles themselves is not this closed loop of the "Renewable" holy grail, the need for petroleum based polymers, because the best polymers are produced from petroleum, is not going to change any time soon.
    Btw I love this channel you do a great job with the various scientific subject matter.

  5. If big gub'ment isn't getting their cut from the switch to commerical electric vehicles what do you think they will tax instead dummy

  6. Was waiting for the ad to end but then I realized it wasn't an ad, it was the actual video.
    Jokes aside, this video was a failure. Honestly, the people that subscribe to channels like Veritasium are not the kind of stupid people you find on, say, Logan Paul type of channels. And I'm not trying to be mean, funny or sarcastic but that is the truth. We already know the pluses and minuses of electric cars and this video brought next to nothing new. Just a waste of 5 minutes advertising for BMW. Which is shallow and low from you, was expecting way more. But I guess the money was really good if you couldn't refuse that offer.
    That being said, electric cars are the future, inevitably. BUT personally, I do not agree on the autonomous cars and car sharing as a "must-have". I think those 2 options should be… an option. I, like many people, love driving. I love driving a manual gearbox even more, but I would make that compromise for an electric car as long as I get to drive. And the car-sharing should rather be an option for people that maybe do not need a car each and every day in their lives, or maybe can't afford one, maybe they hate driving etc. For me, owning my car and having it in front of the house at my disposition whenever I want is the only way to go. Can't see the point of having to request for an autonomous car to pop in front of my driveway whenever I want to go shopping, go to work or just for a trip to the nearest nature reserve. Use the taxi service then or take the bus. Enforce all the taxi drives to only use electric cars, enforce all the buses to only be electric. But don't push people away from buying and owning a car.


  7. ehh i just feel like the cutting edge of electric vehicles in the top racing series, like formula E, are just far to slow and so fans of motorsport may be inclined to purchase a gas car

  8. I am disappointed about that veritasium desaster. To say electric cars are the future is simply arrogant. It is true, there is a bright future for electric cars, but also the existing gas technology will exist a long time from now. Simple equitation: there is a gas station with 26 pumps. You want to change it into electric? Congratulations! How many charge points do we need to have the same capability? The answer is: 2000! 🤔 You gonna need 8 soccer fields! I need 3min to fill up my car for 800km. (Yes, a diesel). An e.car needs more time: lets say 1h. That is 20 times longer. Because that is good for only 200km, it has to fill up 4 times more frequent. 26x20x4=2080. Yeah, there might be the super luxus e-car (nobody can afford) which needs only 30min. But the leaf is the most purchased e-car. "You can fill up at home"?. No, here in europe the majority of people have no house or garage, just rented flats.

  9. And if the battery catches on fire then each individual cell will become unstable over time and cause a very slow chain reaction of combusting each cell over several days. I watch the grand tour and Richard Hammond has experienced this upside down in a electric car.

  10. The future of cars is bikes, feet and public transport ! A car, thermic or electric, will always consume too much energy and materials.

  11. you completely ignored the environmental impact of mining the rare earth metals to begin with. electric cars are worse for the environment, not better. and gasoline engines have had incredible improvements just in this century and are still advancing! screw electric cars. they can fill some niche roles but should not replace all cars, and certainly not based on the false premise of them being better for the environment. until we're producing all or most of our power with nuclear or something even better, it doesn't make sense. total shill video.

  12. It is not true that there hasn't been massive improvements in the internal combustion engine. Both in emissions and in efficiency. There may still be substantial improvements possible.

  13. I enjoyed the video, but I would have to disagree about what you said about electric cars for one reason. I like the snow, but if you were to have a automated car then it would fail for being off trail, and it would probably freak out for getting snow on the censers. I just don’t feel like a battery would do well in -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Any way that you for the video.

  14. The Irony is BMW was "all in" on Hydrogen, not electric, very slow on the electric design and production, they just failed to understand the power of American Corporate Politics, its about the $$$, not about the Environment or the long term solution.

  15. Also you didn't compare the energy consumption in general. Lithium batteries take a lot of manufacturing power and moreover the electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels that cause pollution, which might be a hurdle for the future of cars being electric in some countries.

  16. if it's an autonomous self driving car, why even ride along? send your car to the grocery store on it's own… lots of grocery stores have the option where you can drive up and they will load your car with the groceries you bought ahead of time, online..

  17. Did you know that Norway has one of the highest counts of electric cars per inhabitants?
    This is truly noticeable in Oslo but also outside our capitol, often it doesn't take more than a few minutes since the last electric car passed, until a new one passes. and this is also helping lowering the noise and pollution, except salt and asphalt dust from the road.

    It is obvious that it's easy for the wealthier people to buy a Tesla but as governments will see the effect of autonomy and sharing, they'll possibly start thinking that they could buy a set of cars to replace busses as they could be used as a taxi service. thus the age of bussing and taxing (you get what i mean ;)) is gone

  18. hahaha lol visiting one a company that could have been leading in developing electric cars but but completely missed the transition is kind of funny. the german car manifacturers are to cars what nokia is to cellphones.

  19. You assume that everybody who has a car also owns a home and can just install a charging station at will. You do realize that MANY people live in apartments that do NOT have charging stations, right?

  20. This video is a bit biased! For a cleaver guy like you, you should have mentioned some other concerns about electric cars like you can see in this video form Dave Hakkens: https://youtu.be/0KX2qw79qpk .You could have left us with an open ended question, and some food for after thought!

  21. There are a lot of interesting talking points here, but with any dynamic system, there is going to be a blended strategy for a LONG time before we're close to even a majority of all-electric cars. The future being electric and shared points to several of the issues. First off, most people don't own nice suburban homes with a place to plug in. And there most certainly aren't enough solar panels on all the rooftops in any urban area to charge a one car per person solution, carbon free. So the future must necessarily be shared.

    And the only way for that to work is to make autonomy ubiquitous, enough so that you can summon a car in less than 5 minutes from deciding you need to go somewhere. That's a very steep level of service density. And even if that level of service is attained, it may still cause overcrowding by redundancy, requiring the service to necessarily be throttled by its own congestion. Queues then form, and lookout. Gripe City!

    Then simple errands must, necessarily be eliminated. You MUST have groceries delivered because you CAN'T just hop in a car and go to the store if you forgot the dish-soap and coffee. The landscape begins to look way, way different and I'm sure I've forgotten many other potential dynamic elements.

    And the biggest practical issue today is cost, as you've mentioned.

    Even with a relatively dumb crappy handling gasoline powered pick-up truck approaching $40,000 (2x the cost of my parents 2nd house in 1971), a simple electric sedan is STILL vastly too expensive. My first car was a Ford Escort Pony for $6100.00 in 1987. It got better mileage than most V6s do, even today. Magnets, conductors, bearings, suspensions, and tires are not new technologies and NOT scarce and there is no reason there should not be an equivalent Electric Auto to a Ford Escort Pony for less than $20,000 in today's dollars that can run continuously for 8 hours. The cost of the technology will be recovered with the replacement of gas cars with electric, car by car, at scale. The challenge isn't to create concept cars that can run a Grand Prix without melting the battery, although that is what will drive the technology improvements. The real challenge is to change the type of car that is used in the 1 car / person paradigm, and eventually blend with a shared service system in areas where the economics and safety make sense.

    My feeling is that the majority type of car will first change to a hybrid and then finally electric, with safe, driver-less, autonomous service well after 2050, long after I'm dead.

  22. Question. Electric cars use the 2nd conversion of fossil fuels into motion. Gas cars use the 1st. Why are electric cars said to be more efficient?

  23. Having Audible or Skillshare as a sponsor is very different from having BMW sponsor a video in which you drive around in their vehicles and talk about their products. This is basically a product advertisement. An infomercial. I love that we're finally transitioning to electric vehicles, but there are plenty of channels doing the standard sustainability cheer-leading. Your audience expects far more probing, insightful content from you.

  24. #2: Not necessarily, that's heavily dependent on the car. EV's are much heavier than the equivalent ICE car, can thus are be more prone to under steer. The added weight also increases stopping distance.

    #4: Not always, and not always a good thing. Ignoring the market segment like me who likes the noise the car makes, it's also dependent on aero and insulation. Almost all new ICE cars have very quiet interiors, engine noise is not an issue. In fact, most noise we hear in a normal car is wind noise.
    #10: Full autonomy is still 15 or more years away. We have a tremendous capacity to over-estimate the progress we'll make in the near future. There are many significant challenges to full AI cars that are not easily solvable.

    Lastly, I'd be curious as to what car manufactures think about the sustainability, recycleability, and dependence of/on lithium brings. Is there enough lithium to make millions of EVs? How do we recycle or store used/destroyed EVs (junk yards cannot do this)? What are the geopolitical implications of depending so much on one nation for lithium?

  25. True there were manufacturers who did all these test cars back in the day. But it was tesla and Elon who pushed mass production of electric cars. Now everyone wants a piece of the pie, BMW is one of them

  26. Several years ago I came to the conclusion that electric cars are the future for one reason: Occam's Razor. The simplest solution is usually the correct solution. Eventually internal combustion drivetrains will become to complex to be as profitable as electric drivetrains. That is why most automakers are working on developing them. All reasons given in the video are the reason consumers will drive demand.

  27. I really agree about them being the future. Given the not so green-ness of lithium mining, do you think the tech that pushes us there will be a stored power system or some sort of power on demand model?

  28. The future of cars is electric, autonomous and shared. Electric so that the fuel can be more tightly centralized and controlled, and shared because no one will actually be able to own their own because bankers stole all the money 🤷‍♂️

  29. Electric vehicles have a very long way to go before it can be claimed they are even close to 'Low Emission'. They are presently mainly 'Coal Powered'. In the Uk it's claimed (2018) 30% of annual electricity is sourced from renewables and some of the so called renewables aren't really renewable, such as energy from municipal waste or burning old forests that have been transported from another country in huge fossil fuel burning ships.
    70% comes from burning things, 9% is lost in transmission the best power stations we have are only 60% efficient, blah blah blah. I could go on about where the battery elements are from or about using something that's 15 times heavier than the thing it transports etc, end of life disposal of the vehicle and batteries.
    Wind turbines use around a half ton of coal for every ton of steel used in construction, they'll never in their lifetime displace the amount of Co2 used in their construction. blah blah blah.

  30. Nice video! I pondered converting a truck or large van to a solar powered vehicle. But now I want to build a solar powered trimaran. It's currently a dream but I love the idea of a floating off grid home that can move effortlessly around to different countries with no parking costs or fuel and with low maintenance. At least in summer and spring and fall haha.
    You'd have something like 50m² of solar panels for about 6-8 knots and about 60 nautical miles per day.

  31. 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.

  32. 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)

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. I was watching an old film where a dunk guy left the bar and fell asleep on the carriage and his horse took him home. This was normal back then. Now we need to wait for cars to catch up.

  38. This is the first video I have ever put an Unlike on and I've been on YouTube for over 10 years. Not the content from Veritasium I would expect.

  39. 1) I wonder if/when we go back to the moon, will the lunar rover still be operational, the batteries are probably long dead?
    2) Two bad you didn't touch on Charging time as a negative for EV's.
    3) BTW, you are my favorite science guy on youtube by Far.

  40. Within the next several decades I think we're going to a shift to having mainly electric cars, and with gas cars being pretty much just an enthusiast's choice like a manual transmission.

  41. people are going to be angry with you when they drop 60 k on an electric vehicle and they do not get the benefits you are touting.

  42. This video casts doubt on the credibility of an otherwise very good youtube channel. He is WAY overestimating the value of an electric car, both now and in the future. So many obvious issues are glossed over, omitted, or out right lied about.

  43. They may well be the future, but it's the distant future ….. right now your average person here in the UK ( note i say average ) simply cannot afford to buy one, the average street with average terraced houses has no charger points, the average town with average shopping centres, again has no charging points, and the average job with average pay …. you see where this is going ? these vehicles are NOT your average mode of transport, i am yet to see a single one parked on your average council estate, in an average town, on an average day driven by your average regular working person…… so yes, the future, but "Who's" future ?

  44. First off, LOVE the video BUT…… as cars become more and more computers on wheels… wont hacking them create multiple problems…. if so, CAN you PLEASE make a video about that to #veritasium

  45. If the future will be resourceful high tech. But if the future turns to post apocalyptic mad max era, the future car will be this:

  46. Could be to an extent, but unless they get batteries that go 500 miles and can charge in about 2 minutes, you're never going to completely eliminate the internal combustion engine. And recall, most of us don't live in the few big cities that have huge public transportation systems. I for one don't see myself ever NOT owning my own car. Even if it is electric.

  47. Now the problem with electric cars is, if people figure out how to take advantage of wireless energy. And considering that current flows from the sun to the earth though the poles, it becomes only a matter of time before people figure out how to extract energy from the atmosphere. See: wireless battery chargers. Also see: aurora borealis and the northern lights; and The Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights. And when you figure out that they are poles, meaning what we know as gravity is actually magnetism; the smoking gun being the color spectrums, being consistent with magnetism. Then you begin to see that this is actually quite an affront to power on this planet. And in my experience the truth then flies quickly out the window. Enjoy…

    Watch: who killed the electric car.

  48. But please note Mr. Derek
    That what do you think,
    From where does electricity come
    To charge and electric cars
    60% is still produced using pollutive sources like
    Natural oil
    And geothermal energy
    Which is awful
    And trust me, no common middle class person will care for electric cars until
    Either petroleum depletes or rates go very high
    They might be the future
    But the level you are expecting of mordenisation is far away from what you imagine
    At least in Countries like India
    By the way nice channel

  49. You don't speak about cons of EV, like large time charging , and in particular the emitting co2 in battery production .
    But you said well, this is the future of cars !

  50. Haaaaa haaaa. This summer my electric supplier said I need to cut back on my electric use. Oh yeah, the future of cars is electric I think NOT. The infrastructure for supplying electric power isn't reachable. The only reason that a car manufacturer is going electric is because of the 'Federal Register' and mandated fuel reguirements. Eaglegards…

  51. Definitely missed the mark on some stuff. Electricity is NOT always cheaper. In a lot of states, electricity is produced by burning…gas. Seems a little counterproductive doesn’t it? It also doesn’t save the planet in states like Virginia where nearly all electricity is produced by burning natural gas. If you really want to know the pros and cons of electric cars, you need to check out a real engineer, like Jason, from Engineering Explained. He hits the nail on the head with this stuff.

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