Tesla co-founder and former chief technology officer J.B. Straubel recently issued a dire warning to automakers planning on going all-electric in the coming years: The math doesn’t easily add up as it pertains to the supply chain.
In recent months, a lengthy list of major automakers — including Honda, General Motors, and Mercedes-Benz — have made lofty promises to phase out gas and diesel vehicles over the next couple of decades. The Biden administration, as well, has supported a rapid transition into electric vehicle transportation.
But during an episode of the “This Week in Startups” podcast, Straubel warned that everyone transitioning to electric vehicles at once could be dangerous and lead to serious supply chain shortages, Electrek reported.
The businessman compared it to the entire industry jumping onboard a flight that has been grossly overbooked.
“So many different OEMs (automakers), countries, factories, and customers are leaping into EVs and making huge announcements, saying they’ll be fully electric in their fleet this decade or next, but they haven’t really done the math fully on what that entails in the supply chain and tracing it all the way back, literally all the way back to the mines,” he said. “You need to do that, or else, you know, you haven’t really solved it. It has the feeling to me of kind of like a giant overbooked flight.”
“So everybody’s saying that we all wanna go there at the same time,” he said, adding, “We’re trying to do this fast as a society.”
“I do think we are going to have a really painful time at it,” he noted. “It’s not going to be just a battery shortage, it is going to ripple through different parts of the supply chain. It may at one point be nickel shortages, maybe it’ll be a cathode shortage, maybe another day it will be a separator shortage.”
Despite his warnings, Straubel is not an opponent of the push for an all-electric auto industry.
“We can’t go fast enough in decarbonizing the world,” he said. “It’s terrifying to realize how screwed up we are and how far we still have to go.”
That view is shared by the current president and his administration. In August, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for 50% of all cars sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2030.