Why Elon Musk says 50% of all cars will be electric by 2027

IT has the best handle on what it will take to do a massive EV rollout

Why Elon Musk says 50% of all cars will be electric by 2027
Credit: Tesla

It’s time to hit the reset button on the gas engine. As you may already know, the electric car is now much more viable than it was 10 years ago—there are charging stations in every major city scattered everywhere, particularly at hotels and along major highways. One glance at just the Tesla supercharger network of 900 stations proves that point.

Yet, to reach the point where more than half of all new cars are fully electric by 2027—as Elon Musk predicted recently—there needs to be a massive undertaking that only the enterprise can understand. It is not a consumer endeavor but one that must be backed by IT, similar to an ERP roll-out or a massive Windows deployment.

Here’s why. While the act of driving is a consumer activity—you buy an electronic vehicle (EV) and drive off into the sunset, hoping to make it home on the current charge level—the “back-end” is all about efficient delivery of power. Today, the network of gas stations is highly fragmented, incredibly random, sporadically priced and woefully inefficient. Yet, EV drivers need predictability. The range for a 2017 Bolt EV is around 238 miles today; the range of the Bolt with a gas engine is about double that. But, importantly, there is no range anxiety for a gas-powered car. Gas stations are everywhere.

Launching anything new on a comprehensive level requires more strategy and planning—and that’s where IT can shine. Using even basic algorithms, IT can map out a network of charging stations that is incredibly robust and logical. It can look at the actual range of currently owned vehicles and forecast what the needs will be for charging based on buying habits. It can examine the power grid and loads across the entire U.S. population and determine what will be required to reach that 50 percent of all new cars prediction. IT can also play a major role in determining peak usage (the best charge times) and even help with forecasting based on battery innovations.

Standards and cooperation among companies needed

One company can’t do this alone. There needs to be better standardization, better cooperation and more strategy for EV charging networks, and that’s something only the enterprise can provide—not just Tesla or GM. Consumers only want to know that their new electric car will make it to Omaha. But there have to be standards and cooperation across the entire industry. Without it, we'll never hit 50 percent.

That’s something Musk already knows—he sees that IT can be the leader in mapping out the charging stations, tracking battery progress and forecasting what will actually work in terms of massive EV roll-outs beyond the Tesla brand and one or two other models from Chevy and Nissan. He knows IT is also involved in tracking fossil fuel consumption. In other words, he knows IT can grasp the big picture of where this is all heading and not just depend on the fickle consumer habits that really have nothing to do with an EV becoming a better choice. Left to the desires of consumers, an EV feels like a glorified golf cart. In the hands of IT and the enterprise, an EV becomes part of a vast recharging network that is fine-tuned in a way that a network of 168,000 gas stations—all owned by different brands and scattered everywhere—can’t match.

The enterprise knows how to do a roll-out. An EV dealer network, planning for roads, modernization of EV driving lanes, a connected car infrastructure, the placement of charge stations—they all require strategic planning and analytics in a way that the haphazard nature of everyday gas cars could never touch.

Now, the question is—who will make this all happen?

Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon