A Series of Global Technology Disruptions

Tony Seba has a formal system for identifying and forecasting technological disruption. The link is to a 16-page guide that he created back in 2014. He used his methodology to identify the combined disruption of electric cars, self-driving and ride-sharing that creates transportation as a service (TAAS).

In the video below Tony reviews how his forecasts have been exactly correct.

He used the technology curve of lower-battery costs to determine when electric cars with over 200 miles of range will be cheaper than combustion vehicles. There are 200+ mile range electric cars that cost less than $34000 today. $34,000 is the median price of combustion cars in the US. Electric cars will keep getting cheaper and will be more affordable than new combustion cars by 2025.

Tony also describes how disrupted companies and industries start feeling massive pain long before they are completely replaced.

He indicates that peak gasoline-diesel car sales may have happened in 2019. Car sales were down in China, India and the USA in 2019. This is when electric car sales were only about 2 million vs nearly 100 million for regular cars. This is causing a lot of pressure on car company share prices. Peak cars and the adoption of self-driving ride-sharing could see the price of oil drop to $25 a barrel within 2-4 years.

GE has suffered because of solar power, wind power and batteries impacting the market for natural gas systems.

Electric cars only have 18 moving parts versus 2000 moving parts in combustion cars. The drive trains can last over 500,000 miles and the operating and maintenance costs can be ten times less than a combustion car.

Tony makes the case that fleet owners will switch en masse based upon the operating cost advantage.

People will be able to buy access to self-driving ride-sharing for $100 per month.

This will provide a trillion-dollar per year of economic benefit to all people.

The latest figures on safety from Tesla show that with Autopilot the cars are 8.8 times safer than human drivers. They are getting twice as safe every two years. Autopilot will be one hundred times safer than human drivers by 2030.

The safer vehicles will save over 1 million lives.

The adoption rate in terms of miles ridden will be even faster than car adoption because self-driving ride-sharing vehicles will be driven 10-15 times more than regular cars.

Self-driving will be for all vehicles. They will for trucks, buses, bicycles, wheeled robots and new devices and vehicles.

33 thoughts on “A Series of Global Technology Disruptions”

  1. Considering the current frailty of the grid, where is the information that the amount of needed charging stations is even possible? And if time is money at what point does charging time become a monetary factor in the total scheme.

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  2. Hmm, my reply to Mindbreaker talking about dirty public cars got dropped, presumably when he deleted his post, it took the responses with it.

    What I said was:

    Is why I rather imagine people will join car services, much in the way many very rich people today, instead of owning a private jet, or part of one, instead belong to a service that will deliver a suitable plane and crew to the airfield they desire within a specified period of time, prepared to go to a specified destination.

    Done this a time or two, on someone else’s dime. It’s rather nice. None of this TSA garbage or showing up two hours early or any of that. You park at a hangar a long ways from the crazy terminals, the flight crew grabs your luggage from your car and stows it themselves, and everyone is the soul of courtesy.

    You have to fly almost constantly before this is not a much better deal than owning your own plane and employing your own crew.

    With a car service, you would tell your smart phone to get a car and one drives to your door, clean inside and out, and ready to go — depending on how good your car service is (a major part of which will probably be how much you are paying them).

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  3. I do like the idea of cars being able to drive to charging stations on their own. The insurance is a great idea, I think, as well as limiting it to low traffic hours.

    It would be pretty cool if you could come home at night and trust your car to go out and charge itself so that when you wake up, it’s full.

    Taxis being able to drive themselves around would really cut into job like Uber, I think. I have a couple of friends who left their desk jobs to drive for Uber and they adore it, and they do very well. Unless, and thos would be interesting, humans are paid to be drivers for the taxis and take.over when necessary. Or, there could be a model in which taxis are leased by a company and the person leasing the taxi makes a cut of the fees. I would get in on THAT. Everyone could lease taxis, then, as a side hustle LOL. Easy supplementary income. 😉

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  4. Is why I rather imagine people will join car services, much in the way many very rich people today, instead of owning a private jet, or part of one, instead belong to a service that will deliver a suitable plane and crew to the airfield they desire within a specified period of time, prepared to go to a specified destination.

    Done this a time or two, on someone else’s dime. It’s rather nice. None of this TSA garbage or showing up two hours early or any of that. You park at a hangar a long ways from the crazy terminals, the flight crew grabs your luggage from your car and stows it themselves, and everyone is the soul of courtesy.

    You have to fly almost constantly before this is not a much better deal than owning your own plane and employing your own crew.

    With a car service, you would tell your smart phone to get a car and one drives to your door, clean inside and out, and ready to go — depending on how good your car service is (a major part of which will probably be how much you are paying them).

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  5. Uh, I guess this is a bit dated, as TaaS has shifted a bit to MaaS (Mobility as a Service), to encompass things from those damn electric scooters to self driving bicycles to single/two person “vehicles” and such. Bringing catered mobility down from the level of the rich to the average man. There is something to be said when you have the freedom to just go, whenever, wherever which leads to a stress reduced lifestyle.

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  6. Ride-sharing: We call them “Buses” and “Trains” and “van services”. Do they not have those where you live? 🙂

    Eventually, someone will put together a premium-SD-van-sharing service with vans divided into four to six comfortable compartments.

    It’ll cost about 1/2 to 1/3rd of taking an SD taxi and increase your commute time less than 15 minutes – but you won’t notice as you’ll be snoozing or working, same as in an SD taxi.

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  7. The economics of ‘grubby taxi’ vs ‘clean limo’ vs ‘pay for a car and parking and maintain it as you wish’ has already resulted in many people accepting grubby taxis. TaaS will just make the first two options cheaper and more commonly used.

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  8. Half of being a futurist these days is convincing everyone you were right.

    I doubt this is a feature of “these days”.

    Astrologers in the year 1400 AD, or BC for that matter, would have been doing exactly the same thing.

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  9. Yes. This.
    It is just so much nicer to be in your own car.
    The same way it is so much nicer to be in your own house compared to sharing accomodation with a dozen other families, even if this means you get a better price.

    As for ride sharing… I have never seen this in operation. Even the Uber operations that I’ve encountered still only have one person or group per vehicle at a time. Just like a taxi.

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  10. Overall I agree – while we might temporarily see $25/barrel while various higher-cost sources are being driven out of operation, going to all electric cars/trucks shouldn’t be enough to keep the price that low.

    However, oil fracking may become uneconomic if we go to all EVs, barring some major fracking breakthrough.

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  11. Ride share and other public transportation transmit the lethal Wuhan coronavirus. You die if you regularly use public transportation.

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  12. There are lots of uses for oil beyond combustion, so it could be a long time…even if combustion vehicles dwindled.
    Also I assume that $25 is adjusted for inflation.
    I am expecting major inflation if this borrowing of $1.4 trillion a year continues another decade. $23 trillion and counting. $146,316 per working American adult.

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  13. The flying cars are coming. AI will be driving. Most likely coordinated by some central coordinator like an advanced air traffic control. Or also possible is just all the vehicles communicating with one another, all flying by the same rules, so in flight collisions don’t happen. But without central control I can see that being gamed…some vehicles will be driving more selfishly than others. Probably the German ones 😉
    Obviously, the thing we are waiting for is batteries, batteries, and batteries. We need 4x the energy density to really make these things by the millions that can fly in bad weather, and in less than perfect mechanical condition. Keeping things absolutely perfect all the time is not realistic. A little wear before repair is an important thing to accommodate. They also have to accommodate the spare tire around our middle and tools and other junk in the vehicles. Only lifting 400 lb is not going to cut it for a 2-seater. More like 800 lb+. With current batteries, they are at a very tenuous 200-300 lb, high vulnerability to the wind, and very limited range, hence the 4x+.

    Pity the birds.

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  14. Peak cars? No way! Most places still have very limited roads. When the roads are built, the demand for cars will climb. But to some extent, this is analogous to landline phones. Some countries went strait to cell phones and never had an extensive landline system. Those same countries may get drone taxis before they get cars in large numbers.
    I only see “peak cars” when the automated people-carrying flying drones are being bought by the millions. Most of those in the developed world will be personal…elsewhere…mostly taxis…except for the rich.
    People prefer cars over public transit, providing the roads work. By that I mean not overly congested and there is somewhere to park when you get to where you’re trying to go. They prefer cars because they don’t have other people’s stink, grime, and whatnot. It has their stink, grime, and whatnot 😉 No one likes all the gouged seat backs with gang signs, bubblegum hidden where you put your fingers, wonky gibbering people with bottles clutched in paper bags, that haven’t shaved in a month and haven’t bathed in as long.
    We like comfortable leather or leather-like seats…our music…a soda… You are never going to get that in a taxi without paying far more than it is worth.

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  15. Half of being a futurist these days is convincing everyone you were right. Cherry picking data…bending things to fit…and making ambiguous predictions that can be bent later. Ignoring all the errors and misleading projections. Setting broad time windows and giving yourself credit when you miss by 10 years anyway…and when the technology is very limited rather than the fully functional ubiquitously embraced thing you projected.
    The other half is pretending to be a voice in the wilderness when everyone else said the same thing.

    No. The real futurists make the future. Or advocate for the technologies that will make the world a better place…yet are well within reach.

    Maybe I am too harsh…I have just seen so much of this, that flops, in my eyes.

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  16. Sigh – getting tired of all my posts disappearing and needing to be re-written…

    You’re pointing to literally one day the price fell to $26, with maybe 4 months of prices below $40, due to a transitory oversupply situation.

    We’re discussing a long term systemic change, such as how fracking appears to have driven the price down around $55.

    The question on the table is: to what degree must electric cars displace ICE cars, to drive the long term price of oil down around $25.

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  17. GE has suffered because of solar power, wind power and batteries impacting the market for natural gas systems.

    GE Capital made GE a giant and then eventually broke it. They sold off the best bits and kept the toxic bits that is slowly poisoning the co. Yes, their power business declined a lot($5B to under $3B), but GE Capital went from generating $8Billion in profits in 2013 to the remnants generating a loss of -$7B in 2017.

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  18. I should have called it “Level 3.5”. The car must technically be level 4 – just not fully trusted by those who need to approve a taxi service that implicitly needs to drive cars empty to pick up fares.

    The “It may kill pedestrians” fear needs to have already been technically resolved – a car shouldn’t be considered Level 4 if it isn’t much less likely to kill pedestrians.

    Level 3.5 taxi service would be a confidence-building transition stage to level 4 taxi service.

    Similarly, allowing SD cars to drive themselves to charging stations late at night can build confidence that it’s safe to let them drive empty on any route in a defined area, at any time. Call it “Level 3.1” perhaps.

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  19. “It also clears a path to “4.5” SD – where a taxi would be trusted to drive itself empty to pick up a registered human driver, which could be a stepping stone on the way to level 5 SD taxis.”

    Is that even going to be a thing? I always thought the risk to harm was much greater for those outside the vehicle then inside.

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  20. “GE has suffered because of solar power, wind power and batteries impacting the market for natural gas systems.”

    Really?
    The last I had heard natural gas is doing well partly because grid scale batteries are not (yet?) good enough to back up unreliable wind & solar. So natural gas turbines (or hydro) that can start up quickly are needed wherever there is a lot of wind or solar feeding into the grid.
    Can anyone point to something backing up the quoted statement?

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  21. The greater likelihood for error is in betting too conservatively.

    Unless you are looking at owning a flying car; I’m still waiting with no end in sight.

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  22. To get to $25/barrel, oil demand would have to fall to the point that the nations that can produce and sell oil for under $25/barrel are forced to compete instead of colluding to set higher prices.

    I’m guessing that would be something around 20% of current demand, which would imply pretty much 100% elimination of gas-powered cars and trucks worldwide, leaving only stuff like jet planes, ships and some heavy equipment like bulldozers and maybe freight trains.

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  23. I suspect ‘self-driving’ (at least Waymo or Tesla) may already be nearly good enough for a car to drive itself a few miles to a fast charging station, as a solution for apartment dwellers. A single human (or robotic) attendant could handle plugging/unplugging cars for ~50 slots.

    Owners might need to have assigned parking spaces or use controlled-access lots where the car can be certain to find an open space when it returns, so it doesn’t have to call its owner for help.

    And they might need to prove the car can do it by doing a few test rides, for legal or insurance purposes. Tesla’s approach of offering insurance will probably help in this regard.

    Perhaps it could initially be limited to early-morning, low-traffic hours to further reduce risks and unexpected traffic situations. Politically that’d be an easier step than jumping directly to approving cars for full level 5 SD.

    It also clears a path to “4.5” SD – where a taxi would be trusted to drive itself empty to pick up a registered human driver, which could be a stepping stone on the way to level 5 SD taxis.

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  24. Speaking from the perspective of someone who lives in an apartment complex-heavy major city, I think it is going to take a lot of adoption by housing real estate companies before electric cars become more standard for the average person, here. I hate to say that, but it true. Either that, or fuel stations are going to need to get multiple quick chargers.

    Or, honestly, we just need more charging charging hubs. People will buy more EVs of 1) like you guys said, battery technology advances and B) infrastructure is added.

    I can count at least nine people off the top of my head who would buy the standard Tesla Model 3 right now if there was infrastructure to match that of gas stations. Ten, including myself. That’s not a huge number of people, but in my neighborhood, the number of Tesla cars has doubled within the past couple of years.

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  25. In May 2017, I found the RethinkX 2017 May report titled “Rethinking Transport 2020-2030” compelling reading. The report forecasts that by 2030 road transport as we know it will be ended. The report continues to be the best single source about the matter. If you want to see the report go to https://www.rethinkx.com/fullsummary.

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  26. The used EV market will thrive once better batteries are invented, in 20 years or more. Sales of new EVs will then tank with the downward demographics of the developed world.

    In the undeveloped world they still have a lot of babies, but don’t look there for new sales.

    The sales projections they are trying to feed us are junk.

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  27. Reasonable Timeline the electric car:
    2025 Competitive with ICE 10% of new car sold
    2030 Best buying option 25% of new car sold
    2035 5 years public adoption lag 50% of new car sold.

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  28. …People will be able to buy access to self-driving ride-sharing…

    Not all smart people and orgs fail to anticipate…
    Not all people have to wait to buy access to self-driving ride-sharing, some can buy it right now from the leader in that space…Waymo

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