Think Energy

EV Adoption: The Grid, The Battery, and The Evangelist

Jun 6, 2022

The adoption of electric vehicles continues to rise in Canada, with many automakers reporting their EV stock is completely sold out. This shift in social perception from being EV-hesitant to embracing their benefits seems like a big win for society, but are we really ready for this boom in popularity? Loren McDonald of EVAdoption has spent decades analyzing trends in EVs and charging technology, and he joins this episode of thinkenergy to share his thoughts. 

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Dan Seguin  00:06

This is thinkenergy, the podcast that helps you better understand the fast changing world of energy through conversations with game changers, industry leaders and influencers. So join me, Dan Seguin, and my co host Rebecca Schwartz, as we explore both traditional and unconventional facets of the energy industry. Hey everyone, welcome back. Get ready to start your engines folks. We've got the EV evangelist on the program today to talk about the current state and future prospects of electric vehicles in North America. Lauren McDonald, known to his followers, as the EV evangelist, has been in the electric vehicle advocates since 1990.

Rebecca Schwartz  00:56

As our guest today, Loren will discuss why governments, businesses, the auto industry and the general public are or should be converting to this cleaner and more sustainable mode of transportation.

Dan Seguin  01:09

I think we can all foresee that the mass adoption of EVs is imminent, and something that is going to transform the auto industry, but also many, many other sectors including energy.

Rebecca Schwartz  01:24

Definitely. A lot has changed in the last few years when it comes to EVs. They were once viewed as an expensive novelty item and something you would buy and use only around the city as simply a secondary vehicle. But technology and attitudes have evolved.

Dan Seguin  01:41

You're so right, Rebecca. A few years ago, there weren't a lot of models to choose from, and there still seem to be uncertainty about their viability. But all that is changing fast. General Motors recently announced that by 2035, their entire fleet of vehicles will be entirely electric.

Rebecca Schwartz  02:05

And they're not the only ones. Nearly all major automotive companies are committing to electric vehicles, including legacy luxury brands. Jaguar is targeting 2030 to be fully electric. Bentley plans to only have electric and hybrid models by 2026, Mercedes Benz and Porsche also have 2030 in their strategic plans, and who knows, maybe by then I'll be able to afford one of them.

Dan Seguin  02:31

I love that you're such an optimist, Rebecca. Even more stunning is that many automakers are reporting that they are completely sold out of their existing EV stock and are now either taking orders or due to demand not taking orders for the next few years. So here is today's big question. Are we finally seeing a social change that will drive electric vehicles into the mainstream? If so, what is behind the gearshift? And are we really prepared to accelerate from zero to 60?

Rebecca Schwartz  03:15

Joining us from San Francisco Loren MacDonald of is a lifelong advocate for the environment and has been analyzing EV and charging trends for decades. He's a thought leader, speaker and content marketer with a passion to help move the world to electric vehicles.

Dan Seguin  03:35

Welcome to the show, Loren. Let's start with you telling us a bit about EV adoption. When did you start it? And what was this goal?

Loren McDonald  03:46

Yeah, so first of all, thank you so much for having me. Excited to be on the thinkenergy podcast. So the derivation of EV adoption, so I was a lifelong marketer. I won't say how many but many, many decades as a as a marketing executive and marketing evangelist. And so I looked at sort of the EVs and where it was going with that kind of lens and context of it's really a marketing and behavioral economics question, right is of when will EVs cross the chasm into the mainstream if you're familiar with you know, the book and everything around crossing the chasm and so that's really what I saw was missing. You know, if you look at all of the the websites and everything like that, that were covering electric vehicles, it was all about the models and technical stuff. And most everybody was just pure EV advocates and sort of what I like to say sort of pejoratively fanboys right, and everything was going to be up into the right you know, on the on the chart and I'm like, actually, especially in America, you know, we have this thing called the middle of the country and pickups and you know, of late adopters and stuff. So I really wanted to solve and address that question of what are all going to be the hurdles, and the drivers of of sort of mass adoption of EVs. And so that was really sort of the point in goal of it. And it's, it's really taken off.

Rebecca Schwartz  05:21

In 2018, you published your three part series on the 24 factors that will affect the rate of EV adoption. Of course, a lot has happened in four years. So how does your list of factors stack up in 2022? Has the needle moved? Or are you still seeing the same issues?


Yeah, so I would say that, you know, pretty much all of the issues are still there, it's just a matter of scale, some of them have become sort of more or less critical or unimportant. And let's take a look at one, Rebecca is that if you look at range as an example, right, so, uh, you know, in 2011, sort of the first full year that the Nissan LEAF was available in America, the first version, it's 73 miles of range, you know, we'd sort of laugh at that today, you can now get a Nissan LEAF with 225 miles of range, I think it is in the lucid air, you know, it's 520 miles of range, so and then you sort of overlay that with almost every survey of consumers done in the last, you know, half dozen years around EVs, and will, you know, take them to consider an EV or buy an EV, that, you know, that typically around half or more people say 300 miles 300 US miles, right? Because there's a global audience, I'm always be clear on that. And we're actually by the end of this year, we're going to average probably around 285-290 miles of EVs. Right? So we're not quite at that 300 miles, and there's still several below it, and several above it that's, you know, skew that average. But, you know, the first thing is fundamentally, we're switching from range anxiety, to charger anxiety, right? What's what's happening is we're getting close to that magic 300 number. And so most people now are like, yeah, I can buy an EV and and, you know, driving to Grandma's or Disneyland or whatever it is. But can I charge? And how long is it going to take me to charge? And what are the charges work and those kinds of things? So I think that's sort of the sort of the first thing. The second thing I'd say that sort of new, if you will, is I don't know that we necessarily predicted sort of the supply chain issues. Right? And not just, you know, wiring harnesses that are critical to EVs and chips that are critical to EVs. But the latest one that's really been the hottest topic recently is battery, supply chain and minerals, is there going to be enough, you know, lithium and sort of the different minerals that go into it. So that's one that we didn't see. And, you know, both of you are probably familiar with a lot of those charts that showed the price parity, right, that that the price of batteries and EVS and as would come down and and get get close in the next few years with, with ice vehicles, as we like to call them. Internal Combustion Engine, this industry loves acronyms, as you guys know. And there's been some recent studies that are showing that actually, battery costs are going up, right. And so we may not hit price parity until, like, you know, late this decade and stuff. So I know that was a lot. So I'll sort of stop there. But those are some of the I think the key key differences that I'm seeing

Dan Seguin  08:49

What has been the most important or significant recent event, in your opinion, that will positively change the future for electric vehicles.


The I would say there's sort of two things that are that are kind of closely connected. One is the Ford F 150 Lightning, as you as you both probably know, you know, and pickups are pretty popular in Canada as well. But you know, the F 150, the regular F 150 internal combustion engine has been the top selling vehicle, not just pickup, but the top selling vehicle of any type in America, and actually the world for 40 straight years. And so, the fact that this sort of mainstream popular vehicle, a pickup truck, is actually and it's being delivered now, the first deliveries they're starting, like this week of the electric version, is I've called it this the game changer, the single most important EV in history, right? And you could make arguments for lots of different ones for different reasons right? But I think, to go mainstream this signals to those people in the Midwest as an example. Oh, I guess this isn't just for wealthy, you know, granola eating people in California. This is a work truck. This is, you know, this is actually acceptable. And the second part of it, obviously, which, you know, we'll we'll talk a bit about about more later, I'm sure is, you know, the bi-directional charging capability is sort of an eye opener. And then the last thing I would say is just sort of gas prices, right. And so gas prices, again, which I know we'll talk about some more, is making people more aware of alternatives to the internal combustion engine, and so EVs are kind of having their moment right now because of that.

Loren McDonald  09:00

Okay, this next question is kind of fun, kind of Mad Libs style. I'm going to ask you to finish this sentence. You can't have electric vehicles without blank..?


Convenient access to reliable charging.

Dan Seguin  11:06

Loren, you were recently interviewed in USA Today about range anxiety due to the lack of EV charging infrastructure. What do you think is hindering a massive North American installation of EV stations? What's the biggest hurdle?


So I actually don't agree with that assumption. There is you know, as as you probably know, there's about seven and a half billion dollars from the federal government that's going into building out infrastructure there's a lot of publicly held EV charging networks. I literally talk to companies every day that are looking to get into the EV charging industry, I have never seen, you know, one of the my quotes in the USA Today articles was that it's the wild wild west right now, it's this is literally the modern version of 1849, right of the Gold Rush. And that there is so many companies and entrepreneurs and billions of dollars going in. Because this is probably the single biggest business opportunity in the last 100 years, the combination of EVs and EV charging infrastructure, we're fundamentally changing. The, you know, the not only the power train of transportation, but how they're refueled, right with moving from, you know, gas, liquid fuel to electric fuel, right. And so there is just an inordinate amount of energy and focus and money going to it. My concern is, is that we're spending it the wrong way, we're making a lot of a lot of decisions. And we'll talk about this when we talk about Canada in a little bit, but most of the money in the US is going to building out the DC fast charging highway corridor networks, right, which are needed to get the consumers comfortable that they can go from, you know, Seattle to you know, somewhere in Montana or whatever, and stop along the way. And we need that obviously, at some level because people like to take road trips, but the bigger challenges are, you know, how do people charge every day? Right. And you know, there's these you know, your you know, your EV drivers and owners and you know, this for most people, you know, 90 to 95% of your charging is done at home overnight while while you're asleep. Except for those like in America, my estimate is about 40% of US households do not have convenient access to charging overnight, they live in an apartment, they live in a condo, maybe they live in, you know, Manhattan, or Boston or downtown San Francisco and so they don't have a garage, they they're on street parking, right. So, you know, almost half of US households do not have what most of us have, which is you know, we we come home, we pull in the garage, plug in our car, close the garage door, wake up in the morning with a with a full tank, if you will, right. And so if you think about getting over that, you know getting crossing that chasm, getting people over their hurdle of understanding, charging and, and losing sort of fear around it. We have to we have to solve those problems at the same time, right. And so if you look at the money being spent, by the by the you know, the federal government and state government, not enough is going to workplace is going to you know, the multifamily issue, off street parking on street parking, those kinds of things. So I don't think I don't I think the biggest hurdle is that we're not actually solving some of the bigger problems where we tend to be overly focused on sort of those high the highway corridor DC fast charging challenge.

Dan Seguin  15:10

Pardon the pun, but who do you think should be leading the charge when it comes to charging infrastructures?

Loren McDonald  15:18

You know, that's the $7.5 billion question. I guess we might might say it's a tough one. And I don't I'll answer it several ways. The first is consumers, right. So the consumers and are sort of being left out of a lot of this, this discussion, right. And no offense to a lot of our elected officials, but and I'm just going to make up a number here. 99% of them don't own and drive EVs and they show up for the photo ops, but they actually don't know what they're talking about. Right. They literally don't, there was not going to pick on one, but I think it was our Secretary of Transportation or something. I forgot the secretary of I forget what her role. Anyway, she showed up for a photo op video. And, you know, she mentioned on mic, how do you plug this thing in? Right. Right. And so that's part of the challenge is, you know, going back to my earlier point is that, you know, what, will government, federal, state, local, have to play your role in this, right, because this is this massive transportation. And so we need government involvement for investment, for driving accountability and regulations and things like that, at the same time. You know, most governments are not known for getting things right, all the time. Right. And so I think, you know, as I mentioned earlier, I think a lot of the money is being spent on sort of the easy things and not solving sort of the the hard problems. So I think, you know, it's a collective thing we need, the automakers need to step up more, I mean, one of the things that, you know, is pretty common knowledge is that, you know, and I'm on my second Tesla, and, you know, if you drive a Tesla, charging is seamless, right? Because they designed the car, the charging, in for integration, the, the connector, they own, the networks and stuff. So it's that Apple seamless, closed loop. And so you don't even think about charging. If you own any other brand. It ain't exactly always the best experience, right. And so the automakers are not used to being part of the refueling process, right? Because they outsource it to the oil companies and the gas station operators and stuff. And so this idea that they need to be much more involved directly. In at least in the first couple of decades, right of building out the EV charging infrastructure in the grid, is, you know, they're sort of ret, many of them are reticent to doing it, but we're seeing it like Ford, as an example is getting very involved with Electrify America who they've partnered with, right. And so we are starting to see once they've seen a lot of the problems is that they are stepping up and investing more. GM has invested money, you know, with an EV to build out infrastructure and stuff, but it's, it's nowhere where it needs to be. And the last thing I would say is, I'll sort of throw something out of left field field here a little bit, is that none of the companies we've, we, you know, that are in this mix, including utilities and stuff, have any experience in the refueling business. The ones that do are convenience store chains, convenience stores. Most people don't know this, but like 99% of where people refuel their gas powered car is that convenience store chain, we used to call them gas stations, and then they started adding these little stores. And now they're convenience stores that also have gas pumps, right? They've sort of switched so now those those chains are in the business of selling coffee and cigarettes and beverages and sandwiches and hamburgers and you know, gourmet meals even and they understand that low margin business and so we're starting to see Circle K just announced today you know that they're they're launching their national network in the in the US and you know, 7/11 already announced it so I think we're gonna see and what I'm excited about is the companies that are actually consumer focused and understand how to sell refueling or are going to, you know, get get much more involved in this. And I think that'll help improve the customer experience.

Rebecca Schwartz  20:06

Curious to see if there's a wait and see game happening with customers and Evie technology in that tech is changing too quickly and they think a better model is coming and that they should wait. Is this thinking justified?

Loren McDonald  20:20

Yeah. I mean, that's sort of natural behavior. You know, you think about, you know, sort of other other technologies. I was one of those people back in March of 2010, that was down standing in line to pick up my Apple iPad. Right. And so, you know, I got it. Like I said, I immediately before even had one I got what the iPad was was all about, I understood it. And I talked to a lot of people that just like, I don't get it, you know, I've got a laptop, I've got a, you know, a smartphone, why? Why would I need this thing in the middle. And so I think kind of any new technologies like that, it's about the technology adoption curve, and it's about early adopters and the innovators. And so EVs are just the same, right? Like these, these early people that were like 12 years into the modern era of EVs, right? And the early people, they're okay, with only 200 miles of range. They're okay with not a great charging network and experience and things like that, right. But the main stream, so you know, the way I think about it, Rebecca, is, we can't worry about those late adopters, like we have this joke that we talked about in the industry that, like if you're on Twitter, and social media, there's always these these people are like, I'm not going to get an EV until an electric truck that can go 500 miles without stopping, and I'm pulling a boat uphill. Right. And, I mean, there literally are lots of people that say that they don't necessarily talk in that tone of voice. But you know, we can't worry about them, because they're not going to buy an EV until 2035 or 2040, or whatever. Anyway, what we have to worry about is, you know, is is like those suburban households, right, that are that are driving a Ford Explorer SUV taking their kids to soccer practice, and school and stuff, like there's no reason, there is literally no reason they shouldn't be driving an EV. Right. And so, but they're not right, so we have to focus on just convincing that sort of low hanging fruit that people that are of, you know, decent incomes, living in a suburban, you know, three, you know, suburban house with a three car garage have to 2.3 cars, like there is no excuse for them. So I think that just sort of the last thing, Rebecca is just that, you know, if you think about like, I don't know, if either of you have solar I you know, we actually went we did solar first before we got our electric car, right? And I've talked to a lot of neighbors, it's like, well, yeah, solar prices, they keep coming down, right? And it's sort of the same thing with with EVs, right? The costs, except for the you know, how we talked about earlier with the rising cost of batteries and stuff, but but EVs are definitely you know, they're the, the batteries are getting more efficient. So there's gonna be more range, there's greater, you know, things like bi directional charging that are coming out all of those things, but, you know, when do you when do you- how long do you wait, the same was solar, right, like, we could have waited another 10 years before we got solar. But, you know, at some point, you just, you know, you have to target the people that are that are ready. And so the other thing of last thing I would say on this is, is something that, you know, that we've done is we've leased our two Tesla's and and here's an interesting anecdote. So our first Tesla was the Model S 60. That had 210 miles of range. And three years later, we got a Tesla Model S 100 D that has 335 miles of range, and we lowered our lease payment and so I think one of the things Rebecca that we're gonna we're gonna see is is that a lot of people because of this sort of technology obsolescence so this idea that you know, every year there's going to be you know, greater autonomous driving technology in the car there's going to be better bi directional charging capability- the car will be able to charge faster, you know, more range, all that kind of stuff. So I think we're gonna probably see, not everyone but but some segment of the argument or some segment of the market you know, opting to lease because then they know every three years, I'll just get the latest and greatest thing. So I think that could be an interesting twist in the market.

Rebecca Schwartz  25:08

Now, what do you think customers are waiting for? Exactly? Does the technology already exist? And they're just holding on to some myth of EV from the past?

Loren McDonald  25:19

Yeah, I the latter is I think no, like, I don't think most consumers aren't aware of the really cool stuff that's coming, like the bidirectional you know charging and being able to do you know, vehicle to home and stuff like that. I mean, they're starting to hear about it with like, the F 150 and stuff. So and you know, we'll get into that in a few minutes. But I think it's really simple. You know, and not all consumers are the same, but I think what most of them want, is faster charging, right? Most consumers who don't own an EV assume that charging your EV should be sort of the same experience, as you know, refueling a gas car. And so most people are not necessarily expecting that five minutes of refueling time, but most are expecting to add, you know, two to 300 miles of range in, you know, 10 to 15 minutes and stuff. So I think that from a perception perspective, because as EV drivers, you know, and I know, you know, that Dan had said that's not necessarily what you need. But from a from a perception perspective, I think most consumers are waiting for that faster, superfast, high power charging.

Dan Seguin  26:38

Loren, are there more similarities or differences between Canada and their US, EV adoption? And their rollout? If so, what are they? Is either country getting it right?

Loren McDonald  26:54

Yeah, great, great question. So first, I'd say you know, California and California, US, and, and Canada are, are actually, you know, from a consumer, you know, mindset. And, you know, demographic, psychographic and things like that, I think, I think they're, they're fairly similar, right. And the automakers, I think, tend to look at both markets from, you know, the models, they design and focus on something pretty, pretty similar. So I think, you know, that the, which, which translates to sort of, they want the same things like we've been talking about, you know, more range, faster charging, and things like that. So I think that they're the similarities between sort of the consumers and the automakers and kind of ecosystem is pretty similar. And when you look at sort of where we at from adoption perspective, again, it's pretty similar. Canada was about 5%, in 2021, meaning, you know, one out of 20 new vehicles purchased were electric, and the US was just under 4.5%. So we're, you know, we're, we're pretty close. But if you took California out of that, you know, it drops down to like under 4%, and stuff like that. And so we're, you know, we're a little bit behind on that perspective. But I think, you know, if you think about, you know, and we touched on this, Dan, a few minutes ago, is that, that I think, you know, from the incentive perspective, I think the you know, sort of more of the sort of the point of sale rebate, and something is something that Canada got right. And we haven't gotten right here at the federal level. And the other thing is, and we touched on this is the the investment, the billions of dollars, we're investing in the EV charging infrastructure and how I talked about that a lot of it is focused on those highway corridors and DC fast charging, and the Canadian investment, I'll be it from a dollar perspective, much, much smaller, is is is much more focused on solving real problems. So there's components of it just to build an infrastructure workplace just to build out at apartment complexes and retail locations. And so I think it's a much more balanced approach. So I think Canada's really got those two things right, and that we haven't gotten right here in the US. But the other thing that I think that that both countries are probably getting wrong, or at least the US is there's this focus on EVs as as solving all the world's problems. And the reality is I've done the forecast in in 2030 by my latest forecast in the US 11% of the vehicles on the road will be either an EV or PHEV meaning you know, roughly 90% of the cars on the road are still going to be, you know, gas powered cars. And in fact, there will be more gas powered cars on the road in 2030 than there are today. And, you know, if our goal is to reduce greenhouse gases 50% by 2030, we actually have to look at a much more macro approach to this and BEVs -because I've done them just don't get us there. So we've we've got to look at everything from, I think, a bigger focus on plug in hybrids, because they have lower consumer adoption hurdles, right, you plug in overnight at 20-30 miles, and then you go on a road trip, you go on a road trip and fill up at the gas station, which which the infrastructure is already there, and you only do it a couple times a year, right. But most of the year, you're you're driving on electric, regular hybrids, right? Regular hybrids can actually reduce GHGs by half, right, because, you know, if you get the right, right hybrid, but the other thing that we're just not focused enough on is, is we have to reduce the what what we refer to as VMT, vehicle miles traveled literally by about half in order to stand a chance to get there. So we've got to focus on mass transit, we've got to get people out of cars, walking, biking, you know, ordering from e-commerce companies that use electric vans to deliver the products. So there's sort of less impact there and stuff. So you know, I think that's what probably both our governments are are missing is, is there's too much focus on BEVs as the silver bullet. And in fact, they are going to do nothing to reduce greenhouse gases in the next 10 years. That will slow the increase, but they won't actually reduce it.

Rebecca Schwartz  32:04

Are we finally seeing a social change that's driving electric vehicles into the mainstream? And what do you think is the main driver for people? Is it climate change, soaring gas prices? Maybe?

Loren McDonald  32:17

It's, you know, it's sort of, you know, Rebecca, it's a, it's a mix of depending on you know, the sort of the psychographic of the consumer, there's sort of get them motivated by different things, a lot of the early adopters have been motivated by, you know, I want to save the planet, I want to do, you know, I want to do something good, just like, you know, those of us that have gone solar, right. Although, actually I went solar, because that part of it was a side benefit, I actually wanted to reduce my utility bill, right. And so I think we're starting to see people motivated by that this idea of, you know, lower total cost of ownership, although I don't think most consumers actually get out their Excel spreadsheet, and do like a 10 year TCO analysis, like a fleet manager would. But I think increasingly, you know, especially with this correlation with gas prices, right now, that people more people are starting to go, oh, EVs aren't just faster, more fun. You know, help save the planet, for lack of a better term. But actually, I don't have to go to gas stations, and I can actually lower my my monthly fuel bill and stuff like that. So I think sort of the, you know, people are starting to get motivated by that. And that's why gas prices, I think, are so critical, especially in America, because they are forcing people to think about what they spend on fuel. And then they starting to understand Oh, you mean, I pay less with my electric car. And so I think I think that's going to start motivating people more and more, besides all the other sort of cool factors and then longer term, you know, which we'll get into as the whole bi directional charging aspect, but we're just not we're not there yet. For that to be a factor.

Dan Seguin  33:50

The trend towards beneficial electrification, getting rid of fossil fuels and replacing them with other forms of clean electricity to reduce emissions and energy costs includes the electrification of transportation, are local electric utility companies, the right partner, perhaps?

Loren McDonald  34:40

So, like a lot of my answers to that it's going to be a yes and a no. Utilities obviously have to play a critical role in the electrification of transportation since for most people, they are the provider of the electricity to charge your, your electric vehicle, unless you're, you know, completely off the grid. But that's, you know, a very tiny percentage of the population. So they're- the utilities are fundamentally critical to this. And, you know, the electrification of vehicles and electrification of everything, you know, we're moving away from gas stoves to, you know, electric stoves, we're moving away from gas powered leaf blowers to electric lawnmowers, and leaf blowers, etc. So this sort of broader electrification thing is actually the single biggest opportunity for growth for utilities, in probably, again, 100 years, right, because even though we have more devices, they've been getting more efficient, right? Every year, refrigerators, as an example, get more efficient and stuff. So even though we have more of these different, you know, the technology devices and stuff, they're actually using less less power and our lightbulbs, right. And so they're excited and onboard and are key to electrification. And, you know, they're excited because it is this growth opportunity. The problem with utilities is, is that they are utilities, they are in generally speaking, monopolies. And so they have, by and large, there are exceptions in certain states and markets. By and large, they don't have competition, and they are not customer focused, they don't know how to market they don't know how to build great customer experiences and educate and stuff. So they're, and they're also tend to be quasi government like slow moving entities, and they're risk averse, right? So they can be real challenges to this, right, and many of them, many of them, they're sort of scared, and they're scared about bi directional charging as an example, right. And many of them are scared about what this is going to do to their infrastructure costs, because now they're gonna have to beef up, you know, transformers and transmission and all this stuff to be able to, you know, reliably supply, you know, an entire block that all of a sudden has, you know, an EV, in every garage type of thing, right? So, they're, you know, I mean, I don't want to be overly negative towards utilities, they're some of my clients. But, you know, they just, there's this inertia of who they are their DNA. That is, is not ideal set up to be the fuel supplier to owners of EVs, if that makes sense.  Loren, as a lifelong advocate for the environment, and in the last many decades for electric vehicles. What does success look like for you? What do you ultimately hoping will be achieved with your advocacy work? So this is easy, smarter decisions. I think, you know, and this is hopefully coming through so far and in the conversation, but I just think there's a lot of decisions and policies being made, that are flawed, and that this has become sort of what you know, what's exciting for me and one of the biggest opportunities is just to be data driven, right is to provide organizations with with data and hopefully accurate forecasts and stuff that help make better decisions about you know, how to scale EVs with consumers and and how to right size and get EV charging at the right, you know, right level and in the right use cases and stuff. So smarter decisions is really my hope and goal.

Dan Seguin  38:52

Now, Loren, I have a follow up question for you. What's your prediction based on the current trajectory on the future of EVs? And do you feel more hopeful now than you did say in 2018?

Loren McDonald  39:08

So another one of these yes and no answer. So yes, I'm hopeful we might, you know, my my forecast is that so today in the end, I tend to focus just just on the US so today in the US, as I mentioned, in 2021, we had about a little under 4.5% EV sales share, meaning, you know, less than five out of 100 new vehicles purchased last year were either a BEV or a plug in hybrid. My forecast my sort of base level forecast is that we'll hit about 44% it by the end of 2030. Now a year ago, I was in I was at about 30%. And that's how fast things are changing, right because you know, a little over a year ago is an example, Ford was considered a non player in the EV space. And now they're considered perhaps the leader after Tesla, right? I mean, you could argue it's, you know, it's GM, or actually, we could, we could argue about that. But, you know, they're they've, they've gone from sort of and also ran to arguably headed towards being, you know, one of the leaders and definitely, you know, number two spot after Tesla, so a lot of things like that have just like overnight, changed things, and every automaker has, you know, got religion and is announcing, you know, dozens of, of, you know, new models and factories and stuff. So it's, it's, you know, so a year from now, I might be upping up and get again, but right now I'm at that 44%, which is, you know, think about it that's approaching half of the new vehicle sold in America at the end of 2030 would be electric. But as I mentioned, the sort of the downside of that is, is that with that would get us to only 11% of cars on the road being electric. Right? And, and, and if you're just looking if you remove PHEV's from that, you know, it's probably around 8%, or something like that. So, you know, the, the exciting part is, is that we're moving in the right direction direction, we're moving towards, you know, a large number and percentage of vehicles having no tailpipe emissions. On the other hand, gas cars are not going away for another 40 years. Right. And so it's just this, you know, you have, you know, almost 300 million gas powered car, you will have 300 million gas powered cars on the road in a few years. Right? Just look at the math, right? It takes decades to get get rid of all of them unless we did this massive, massive cash for for, you know, clunkers thing and just bought them all and crushed them all, which I don't think we're going to do.

Rebecca Schwartz  42:14

Okay, I asked this in another podcast, but we would love to hear your thoughts on vehicle to grid and vehicle to building systems. And if you think they'll become mainstream when regulatory or government barriers are lifted?

Loren McDonald  42:26

Yeah, so this is this is one of my my favorite questions and topics. This is to me, the game changer for electric vehicles versus, you know, ICE gas powered cars, right? We talked about you know, EVS being more fun to drive, faster, you know, less less maintenance, all those types of things, but but the one thing that EVs can do that gas powered cars cannot do is become what I call mobile storage, you know, energy devices, right? Energy vehicles, if you will, right and so this is where you know, we're years from this going mainstream Rebecca but but the fact is, like, I have this big Tesla sitting you know, 20 feet from me in the garage that's got 100 kilowatt hour battery, you know, and we drive the car to the supermarket it's a complete waste, right? I mean, it's just the only time we use that battery pack is when we go on a 500 mile road trip the rest of the time, you know, that capacity is is is actually in an inefficient and so the opportunity to leverage that you know, that power wall for you know, to use a brand name to use a battery storage device in your car to power your home to send it to the grid to reduce peak demand and help out the utility and when you know when it when it's hot and vehicle the building which you know, you specifically mentioned is one of my favorite areas because it provides a real ROI to companies so for the audiences not aware of and understands what vehicle the building is, it's where you as a company, incentivize your employees who drive electric vehicles to drive their EV to work park in the parking lot and then you have these bi directional chargers in the parking lot. They plug in and then they're gonna charge but let's say it's the summertime and it's really hot and it's the late afternoon. The employees agree to send extra power that they don't need, you know, they're gonna save enough to the to get back home. But but they send power from the EV basically, into the building. And so instead of that building, running that very expensive air conditioning in a hot summer afternoon to cool it down to 70 degrees or whatever. They're powering the air conditioners with, with with the power from the EVS and, you know, we refer to that as sort of flattening the, you know, the demand curve, right. And that can literally save that that company 10s of 1000s of dollars a year. You know, I was I was down at Lucid Motors a couple years ago, and talking to their CEO and about this, and he joked that he was going to buy a lot of his employees, the, you know, the $100,000, Lucid Air, just so that employees could could plug in and he could save what he thought was maybe a million dollars a year on their PGE, our local, you know, California utility bill a year, I think, you know, I'm not sure quite sure he'd saved a million dollars, but you but you get the idea is that, you know, you can actually use that, that power to cut costs. So I think that that ROI factor is is sort of a real game changer. And then the second thing from a consumer perspective, right, like the headlines right now are about like, you know, Texas again, right, of not having enough power, I was just listening to, you know, the radio this morning, and one of the top stories is about is are the utilities going to have enough power? You know, during during the hot summer, we have things like, you know, a lot of utilities that rely on hydropower, something probably close to your hearts there. The rivers are down, right? And so there's not as much electricity being generated from hydro right? And so you take all these sorts of trends, and, you know, consumers are looking at backup power. And so like one of the hottest things going right now, these backup natural gas generators, right? Well, better would be, you know, just when you need to tap into, you know, power in your EV if the power goes out for two hours or something like that, you can backup your house from the car. So I think that's, you know, Rebecca like the most exciting thing about EVs is that we will be rethinking them as just transportation devices as as becoming, you know, energy storage vehicles.

Dan Seguin  47:29

Okay. Now, time to leave it all on the floor. What is something you want the average combustion engine car owner to know about EVs, that maybe they don't already know, Loren, gloves off, go for it!

Loren McDonald  47:47

Really, I think pretty, pretty simple that charging your electric vehicle is more like how you charge a smartphone than how you fuel your gas car. Right. And just to expand briefly on that is, you know, most consumers their perception is is that refueling recharging an EV should, is the same as going to a centralized gas station and stuff. And it's not till you own one, and experience it and drive it a lot that you realize no, it's actually more like a smartphone where you know, you, you know, put it in your your bed stand and plug it in, you wake up in the morning, and it's recharged or whatever. And that's the same thing with with your EV. So you have access to home charging, right? Go into the garage plug in, wake up, and it's charged. And, you know, the the, the nuance to that is, is that and I've got this amazing chart that I that I use in presentations that shows like a fuel gauge, for you know, like most consumers when they drive a gas car, what do they do? They drive the car down to empty, quarter of a tank, below empty, whatever they're comfortable with. And then they pull into a gas station and fill it up to full. And you know, this, Dan, that's not how you you refuel an electric vehicle, you replenish what you use, right? So if you drive 30 miles today, you plug in and you replenish that third maybe actually even don't maybe you wait a couple of days, right? You drive it down and then you do it right. It sort of depends on your comfort zone. The only time the refueling experience for an EV is is analogous to gas car is when you go on those road trips, right and those either so you know, a weekend one or a long road trip, and then you do have to do that centralized thing but but otherwise, I think this is the single biggest education hurdle that we have is because it's not something you can explain to people. They actually have to like experience to them. The light bulb goes oh yeah, this is like my Smartphone.

Rebecca Schwartz  50:01

Okay, Loren, we always end our interviews with some rapid fire questions. And we've got some for you. Are you ready?

Loren McDonald  50:08

I am pumped if I can use that, that term and ready to go!

Rebecca Schwartz  50:14

What are you reading right now?

Loren McDonald  50:16

I'm reading a book called Hella Town by Michel sporter. And it's all about my hometown of Oakland, California.

Rebecca Schwartz  50:23

If you had a boat, what would you name it?

Loren McDonald  50:26

I'm gonna go by the Modest Mouse song title of Float On.

Rebecca Schwartz  50:31

Who is someone that you admire?

Loren McDonald  50:34

Benjamin Franklin. I love Ben Franklin.

Rebecca Schwartz  50:39

What is the closest thing to real magic that you've witnessed?

Loren McDonald  50:43

The birth of my first daughter.

Rebecca Schwartz  50:46

What has been the biggest challenge to you personally, since the pandemic began?

Loren McDonald  50:51

This is an easy one travel. I used to when I worked in the corporate world, I traveled around the world. And, you know, got to you know, see a lot of friends and make new ones. And although yes, I know that was not good for the planet being on on jets. But I really miss I really miss traveling the world and meeting people and seeing friends. That's been the biggest, biggest, the hardest part.

Rebecca Schwartz  51:21

Okay, what are you watching? Or rather binge watching on Netflix? And what's your favorite movie or TV show?

Loren McDonald  51:28

So I am actually not much of a TV guy. So a thing I'm binging on right now as I'm watching my Golden State Warriors in the NBA Playoffs. But I'll but I'll mention one show the one show that that I did watch. And I'm not sure if it was on Netflix or a different different network. That's how little I watch the things but I watched the series called Unbelievable. That was that was pretty amazing.

Dan Seguin  51:54

Lastly, Loren, what is exciting you about your industry right now?

Loren McDonald  52:00

The most fascinating thing I think, right now is that when I got into this, the question was, you know, an if question. Right? It was, will EVs become the future, there was even you know, this idea that maybe fuel cell powered vehicles, were going to be the future. And we've really hit this point here in 2022, where there are very few people that are not convinced that EVs are the future. There's still some holdouts and stuff but but most everybody has transitioned from if, to now it's when and so and as a sort of somebody that's really focused on the, you know, the data behind that and behavioral economics I just love working with with clients and companies that are trying to understand how it's going to impact them from a negative perspective, but also more, more excitingly, what are the opportunities for them out of it?

Dan Seguin  53:01

Loren, this is it. We've reached the end of another episode of the thinkenergy podcast. If our listeners wanted to learn more about you, and your organization, how would they connect?

Loren McDonald  53:16

They can go to they can follow me on LinkedIn. I guess just just search on LinkedIn for Loren McDonald and look for the really handsome guy that has EV somewhere in his in his in his description or whatever. And I'm on Twitter, at Loren McDonald and also EVadoptiontweet.

Dan Seguin  53:43

And Loren, again, thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you truly had a lot of fun. Cheers.  I did it was it was a real honor. Thanks so much for having me on the show. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the thinkenergy podcast. And don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review wherever you're listening. And to find out more about today's guests or previous episodes, visit I hope you'll join us again next time as we spark even more conversations about the energy of tomorrow.