Which do we need first, electric vehicles or electric vehicle chargers? Just like the age old question, which came first – the Chicken or the Egg? This riddle is perplexing, but apparently science has solved the question, in a way, I guess. Since “eggs” are just female sex cells, which evolved over a billion years ago, and chickens have only been around for about 10,000 years, the egg came first – by a longshot. But from a philosophical standpoint, was the first chicken egg birthed from a chicken, or a non-chicken?
Who cares? Well, as it would have it, the electric vehicle industry is grappling with it’s very own chicken or the egg problem. See, you need a lot of public chargers to accommodate people who don’t have a private space with electrical access (like a garage on a house or even a parking deck for an apartment building), but if they don’t buy an electric vehicle, there’s no need for all those chargers and they just sit there idle and break down over time.
The answer, I believe, is put up the chargers, and people will buy the electric vehicles. The way the supply and demand for chargers is linked with electric vehicle adoption is very precarious, because if the pace of EV adoption slightly outpaces chargers being built, there will be a correction and demand for public chargers will be too high, and it will significantly suck people’s time waiting for a charger to become available. That, in turn, will likely reduce demand for electric vehicles, and ultimately correct itself, but it may not be a quick bounce back. Conversely, an abundance of public chargers will accelerate adoption of electric vehicles, and that in turn will reduce the price of EV’s through economies of scale for even quicker adoption.
And with the quickening pace of climate change, solving the issue of pollution from gas powered cars (which makes up 29% of the yearly U.S. greenhouse gas emissions) is utterly essential. Apparently, it’s not so simple, because lithium mining and lithium-ion battery production are energy intensive processes themselves. So, now we have a much bigger chicken or the egg problem. Do we build electric vehicles first, or nuclear power plants? It’s got to be nuclear power plants, and the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have realized that and invested in TerraPower.