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electric vehicle charging companies:The ‘cigarette moment’ for the internal combustion engine

“Twenty years from now, the smell of exhaust will be as rare (in cities) as the smell of cigarette smoke is in a restaurant today.”

-Sir Richard Branson

The vast majority of EV-drivers will tell you that they will never go back to petrol. Internal combustion engine technology feels old and obsolete once you’ve driven an electric car. These people realise that cars do not necessarily have to be polluting.

It is only a matter of time before society sees gasoline cars as an irresponsible technology, simply because they are hazardous to the health of others and imperil our climate.

Think about what happened to smoking. Just thirty years ago people used to accept smoking virtually everywhere — smoking in airplanes, smoking in schools, smoking in hospitals. People smoked in the presence of babies and the elderly. Pregnant women smoked, doctors smoked, sick people smoked. With hindsight, it is crazy!


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This changed when the dangers of smoking became undeniable. Newspapers picked up the story and people became concerned about their health. In response governments around the world introduced age restrictions, mandatory health warning messages on packs of cigarettes, and smoking bans in hospitals, government buildings, schools, bars and restaurants. Suddenly smoking no longer seemed normal, but dangerous. People who stopped smoking didn’t want to be exposed to the smoke of others. Smoking went from cool to decidedly uncool.

I predict this is exactly what will happen to combustion engines. When I cycle to work (like the Dutch tend to do) I smell the exhaust from dirty diesel cars. Every day streets filled with cars blow fine particles and nitrogen oxides in the lungs of pedestrians and cyclists in cities around the world. Exhaust emissions have proven to cause cancer, premature childbirth, increase the risk of heart disease and significantly shorten life of city dwellers. Just like smoking, the public is waking up to this fact and governments are introducing legislation to restrict polluting cars.

The cigarette moment will be driven by peer pressure

Fast forward a couple of years in the future. Affordable electric cars with around 300 kilometers of range are widely available and are an increasingly common sight on the road. Now, try explaining to your neighbours that you have again chosen for a noisy, noxious diesel car which damages the health of their children. The more electric cars on the road, the higher the social pressure on internal combustion engines.

That’s why I believe the demise of the internal combustion engine will not follow a straight downward slope, but an accelerating decline.

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