ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m done covering ICE vehicles, EVs only from here on out

The automotive industry is going through its biggest ever transition, from the internal combustion engines that have powered cars for more than 100 years, to electric vehicles. It has...

The automotive industry is going through its biggest ever transition, from the internal combustion engines that have powered cars for more than 100 years, to electric vehicles.

It has been abundantly clear to me for years now that EVs are so clearly the future, for all forms of transport, with the only question left, is when?

Combustion engines have served us well for decades, with some real innovation achieved to deliver more efficient vehicles. However, zero-emissions beat less-emissions.

Improvements in ICE vehicles are increasingly harder to find and facing diminishing returns for research and development required to achieve them.

techAU started back in 2007 and since then, vehicles have become a massive part of the site. I’ve been to international car events, raced a Nissan GTR Nismo around The Bend, been to the latest Ferrari launch and done dozens of car reviews, but it’s time for something new.

It’s time to focus on the future of transportation – Electric Vehicles.

Electric powertrains are now being developed by pretty much every automaker on the planet and certainly, any that’ll be around in 10 years. While each manufacturer is at a different point in their journey to transition, the next big steps in performance, efficiency, and autonomy is going to come from electric vehicles.

I understand and appreciate that EVs are still expensive and your budget may not stretch to afford one today. If you’ve only ever bought cars in the twenty, to thirty-thousand-dollar range, then EVs seem out of reach today, but that won’t always be the case.

What’s important to remember, is the price of EVs will change over time, as the single biggest cost component is the battery.

Battery innovation is set to reduce the cost to a point where EVs reach price parity with ICE vehicles. Until recently, it looked like everyone was on a timeline of around 2024/25 for this to happen, however recent events suggest that the milestone will arrive a couple of years earlier.

In 2020, I have a real problem recommending anything other than an EV and that’s ultimately why I’m done covering ICE vehicles.

Most people buy vehicles with the expectation they’ll be able to get fairly certain resale value, given the age, condition and km on the vehicle. Given the disruption that’s occurring here, all bets are off and you should not expect the same resale value, not even close.

What used to be a car with plenty of life left in it, will now be old, slow, dumb (not connected), that’s expensive to maintain and still runs on dead dinosaurs.

If we’re still walking into showrooms in 2023, imagine the choice you have in front of you, buy a car of the future, or a car from the past, for the same price, the choice will be clear. By then, it’s likely a fairly vibrant second-hand market for EVs will be alive and well, making for cheaper price points for those on tighter budgets.

The diversity of electric vehicles available will continue to grow over the next few years and they’ll arrive at increasingly lower prices as battery technology and scale offers cheaper prices. The number of charging locations is also rapidly expanding, making EVs viable for everyone, regardless of where you live.

In America today, there are more than 115 million people that live within 15 minutes of an EVgo fast charger and there are multiple networks. The same is happening in Australia with charging networks like Chargefox, Evie Networks and Tesla, as well as many businesses that add EV charging, hoping to attract progressive customers. Check out PlugShare for details of charging in your area.

This is all pointing to a fundamental shift in what consumers want and expect from a vehicle, representing a true generation change taking place.

We then layer on the autonomous discussion, which is only really getting serious on EVs, with many more options available when you have always-on power and connectivity, it opens the door to things like smart summon.

While the software is in its infancy, the hardware’s capabilities is amazingly capable. This means companies like Tesla are training their cars to replace humans, with a computer for a brain, and cameras for eyes. Like a baby, it starts off with basic abilities, but with more time and experience (training), the learning accelerates until a skill is mastered.

While many uneducated on the topic, quickly ride this off as something that’s still 10 years away, those people don’t understand the technology, which is complex, but leaves me absolutely believing a hands-free commute isn’t far away.

Vehicles today are incredibly safe, but we will need to reconfigure how we think about a safe car. Safety ratings today score vehicles based on how well the occupants fare during a crash. With vehicles gaining a 360-degree understanding of the world around it and having the ability to avoid other vehicles, we’re approaching a time where vehicles could avoid most crashes as their driving skills, surpass human ability.

When that happens, not only will the insurance landscape look very different, so will the resale value of a car that can’t drive itself.

After having driven the Mitsubishi iMiev, the Nissan Leaf, the Jaguar iPace, and every model of Tesla, I bought my own EV in September last year. The Tesla Model 3 definitely represents the best of what’s available right now, many other electric vehicles on the market, offer many of the same core benefits. Sure, some of them don’t have as much range, but they do offer great acceleration, dramatically lower running costs and zero emissions.

My expectations for vehicles have completely changed after living with this car, in a sense, it ruined me, by opening my mind to a completely new type of vehicle.

With a get-in-and-go driving experience, combined with breathtaking acceleration, I agree with Joe Rogan on this, a Tesla makes other cars feel stupid. I’m someone who added an aftermarket exhaust system to my last car, a 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer, but EVs broke my correlation between going fast and the noise. Once you accept that, there’s no going back.

While Tesla went next level with the interior rethink for EV (new air vents, no instrument cluster in front of the driver), you can see other legacy automakers are still struggling to let go of knobs and dials, however more recently we are seeing a shift to a focus on touch and voice as interaction interfaces with the car.

The car’s drivetrain is also dramatically simplified which almost eliminates servicing costs for the owner, but is also a great win for the manufacturer, as long as you don’t depend on service revenue to many your business viable.

It is also worthwhile remembering that ongoing costs like recharging, sits somewhere between 1/3 to 1/4 the price of refuelling, even despite the current lower petrol prices.

While I may be one of the first journalists to make this decision, I definitely won’t be the last. Covering ICE vehicles is now like covering printers to me, they’ll exist for a while, but I just can’t care about them anymore.

My message to automakers is simple, stop with the concepts, it’s time to put up or shut up, make EV’s now. Electric is so clearly the future for the transport industry and the faster you run to that future, the better.

Manufacturers can and will spend millions making the best new ICE car on the planet, but I just don’t care anymore. EVs are the future and you can read all about it on our Vehicle category page.

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Vehicles

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
8 Comments on this post.

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  • Dee
    25 May 2020 at 10:14 am

    My next car will be an ICE one. EV’s aren’t ready for prime time by a long shot. Neither cost wise or charging convenience wise, or even recycling wise when their parts wear out.

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    • Jason Cartwright
      25 May 2020 at 10:41 am

      Clearly I have some work to do to educate people about where EVs are today. Price I absolutely accept prevents people from buying EVs today, but charging, range are essentially solved at this point. Of course there are extreme edge cases that may be an exception to that, but given the average km traveled per day is 41km, ranges of hundreds of km are viable. For the road trip (say Wodonga to Melbourne that I’ve completed a number of times) is achieved by charging along the way and in my experience the human body needs a break before the car does.

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    • DavidN
      25 May 2020 at 5:54 pm

      EV’s are most definitely “ready for prime time” unless you do a lot of travelling out West, away from charge networks. That will come with time. However having said that, about half a dozen Teslas that I know of (probably more) have done the full lap of Australia. I believe a couple of them have been solo women, so it’s not just a “male” thing. (You can even work from just a 3 pin plug if you’re not in a rush.)
      What many people forget is that the the vast majority of charging can be done in your garage whilst you sleep. In eight months of Model 3 ownership I have not needed to use a public charger at all, as the longest trip I have done is within the range of my car on a full charge, (under 500 kilometres.)
      On the other hand I also have a friend in Sydney who lives in an apartment with no charging available in his garage, not even a 3 pin plug. He has worked entirely from public chargers and has not had a problem.

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  • DavidN
    25 May 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Right on the money Jason!
    I fully understand that some people can’t make the EV equation work yet- they’re still pricey, but you’d really have to be a fool to buy a NEW ICE vehicle rather then second hand. A good example is the depreciation of the Model 3 in the UK versus the M3 BMW, over the last year.
    Model 3 depreciation = 5%
    BMW M3 depreciation = 38%
    I’m not sure of the figures here, but I am damn sure the figures will trend the same way sooner rather than later.
    Although I still have a diesel SUV ICE car in the garage as well as my Model 3, it’s used very rarely now and ONLY for heavy towing. (We have a 3 tonne caravan.)
    As Joe Rogan said- it feels stupid. I HATE it compared to the Model 3.

    Cheers

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  • Tadswana
    26 May 2020 at 10:03 am

    Well done Jason for taking that decision, I’m sure it will pay off – particularly as people are more interested in reading about new and upcoming EVs rather than boring refreshes of old tired ICE vehicles. Once you drive an EV, going back to an ICE is difficult, it feels loud, draggy, unnecessarily complicated, and unintuitive – I’m sure that feeling must be amplified for a journalist who reviews them constantly!

    I for one look forward to checking back with TechAU on all of the great EV reviews as the rollout and competition increases!

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  • Pete
    26 May 2020 at 11:20 am

    Couldn’t agree more. An EV today is superior to an ICE car in every way except time to refuel and upfront cost. The former is only an issue for those who live in apartments with no prospect for EV charging and on long trips (which an average person may do once or twice a year.) Furthermore, as rapid chargers spread across the landscape this will increasingly be a diminishing issue. Upfront cost is an issue, especially in Australia where we penalise EV adoption with the LCT which should be eliminated from EVs as should the GST. Better still, EVs wouldn’t need any incentives if we just had a level playing field. Australia spends $29B p.a. or about $2,200 per tax payer per year on fossil fuel subsidies. That said, however, EV buyers increasingly look at the total cost of ownership over a 10 year term. If this is how you look at things you soon realise that the Model 3 and soon the Model Y are one of, if not the best value cars on the market today, ICE vehicles and other EVs included.

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  • Charged Garage
    3 June 2020 at 4:41 pm

    For a tech website it totally makes sense. Can you do an article on EV conversions? I have a Tesla powered Cortina and Kombi in the works!

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    • Jason Cartwright
      3 June 2020 at 4:53 pm

      Sounds interesting, will definitely consider. Really impressed at the effort and money that goes into conversions.

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