Why you'll be driving an electric car in 10 years or less

Credit: Andria Brooks

Credit: Andria Brooks

It doesn't take a crystal ball for Tony Seba to see into the future, it just takes the right combination of facts. And what those facts indicate, according to Seba, is that swiftly improving electric battery technology and rapidly declining battery prices will soon make gasoline-powered engines obsolete.

Don't think an electric vehicle is for you?

Think again, says Seba, who teaches about disruptive technologies at Stanford University and was the guest speaker at the annual State of MARTA breakfast on Thursday. Seba also authored  "Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation – How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030."

In the not too distant future (2017 or so), several manufacturers including GM and Nissan will offer electric vehicles able to travel more than 200 miles on a single charge. What's more, the falling cost of producing lithium batteries will allow automobile manufacturers to finally begin pricing EVs competitively with vehicles that have gasoline-powered engines.

Contrary to popular perception, when it comes to performance the future EVs won't just go "putt-putt." They'll practically purr "vroom vroom." (The Tesla Model S was recently named best car overall for the second year in a row by Consumer Reports, which the magazine also described as the best car it had ever reviewed in terms of performance.)

The new cars will be recharged quickly without needing to be plugged into an electrical outlet - they can simply be parked on top of a charging pad and charged wirelessly. And most importantly, the new electric vehicles will cost only about one-tenth of what it costs to fuel and maintain the cars of yesteryear. That last factor will be the deal-closer when it comes to mainstream adoption, says Seba.

By the time EVs drop below a retail price of between $35,000 and $45,000, "then, no gas car above that price will be worth it," Seba said.

The median car price in the U.S. today is $31,000.

By 2023, manufacturers will be churning out electric vehicles at price points as low as $22,000 or even lower.

Seba predicts "by 2026, every new car will be electric."

Previously, it took substantial tax incentives to help nudge the electric vehicle market into full swing in Georgia -- incentives which were stripped away last year by the General Assembly at the same time that a new $200-per-year electric vehicle registration fee was imposed. After the incentives disappeared this summer, car dealerships saw a steep drop in sales.