Is that something we should be worried about? Not really. True, some investors are going to lose a lot of cash. Sony might never get a single yen back of the money it has spent on its prototype, and neither might Apple.
Plenty of the VC-backed start-ups will be remembered only by a handful of vintage EV collectors some time in the 2080s, while Mercedes might well find that no one really wants to drive 600 miles without stopping for a coffee and a charge-up. For the rest of us, however, massive over-investment in the sector is great news. Here’s why.
First, consumers will have far more choice, and even better, they will effectively be subsidised by the venture capital firms, and the auto and tech industries.
We will see a bewildering array of different kinds of battery-powered cars. Do we really care that much about range, given we typically only drive 10 or 20 miles a day? Is connectivity to entertain us along the way the key? Does design and prestige matter, as it did with petrol vehicles, or is it just another functional gadget?
Will we actually want to own an EV, or would we prefer simply to rent one via an app for the few hours a week when we need it? The market will decide. The important point is this, however. The market can make a far better decision if it has plenty of options to choose from – and that is what we are about to get.
Next, intense competition, combined with lots of money, will accelerate the development of new technologies.
There is still a huge amount of innovation to come. Different kinds of batteries may still be developed, and they may use more plentiful, cheaper materials. Tesla, for example, is switching the chemistry of its batteries to help it ramp up production, but there is still plenty of scope for new thinking.