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An impending black swan for electric cars

A black swan is what we call an unexpected technical innovation that disrupts existing markets. Intrinsic to the whole black swan concept is that you can’t predict them: they come when they come. Only today I think I’ll predict a black swan, thank you, and explain exactly how the automobile business is about to be disrupted. I think we’re about two years away from a total disruption of the automobile business by electric cars.

One of the readers of this column is Robert Cumberford, design editor at Automobile Magazine. Nobody knows more about cars than Bob Cumberford, who has written about them for more than half a century. Here’s what he told me not long ago about the Tesla Model S:

“Since the entire automotive industry delights in bad-mouthing electric cars, and no one expects them to amount to anything significant, I predict that the Great Unwashed will enthusiastically embrace electric vehicles as soon as there is a direct personal experience. I’ve been professionally involved with cars for 60 years now and can say with the certainty based on having driven perhaps three thousand different cars over that period, perhaps more, but not surely not fewer, that the Tesla Model S is the best car I’ve ever driven. Oldest was probably a 1914 Benz from the Mercedes museum collection, newest whatever I drove last week. Wide range of experience, then. Nothing better than the Tesla. Faster? Sure. Sportier? Absolutely. But better? Nothing. I want one. Probably will never have one, but the desire is there, and will be assuaged by something electric one day Real Soon Now.
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