Not surprisingly, the oil industry would take a $175 billion hit under the scenario sketched by UC Berkeley’s Global Venture Lab, while a booming battery business would gain $130 billion as the internal combustion engine sputters out. “There will also be significant changes in the balance of payments among nations as petroleum imports decline,” the authors wrote. “We find the net imports of the U.S. will decline by $20 billion.”
The report makes several assumptions to arrive at its optimistic conclusions: The Cal researchers are counting on 39% of cars on the road to be electric by 2030 and powered by electricity generated from renewable sources like wind and solar.
Electric car owners would save an estimated $7,203 in operating costs, mainly because with no engines to maintain, battery-powered vehicles rarely see the inside of mechanic’s garage.
Left unexplored in the report was the impact of electric cars on the United States auto industry. If General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and Chrysler survive – and that’s a big if these days – they stand to benefit assuming they retool for the electric age and produce cars consumers want to buy before rivals like Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC) and Renault-Nissan beat them to the punch. But their dealer networks are sure to suffer once their lucrative repair and maintenance business evaporates.
Another winner in the electric car economy will be solar and wind companies and utilities, particularly those like PG&E (PCG) and Southern California Edison (EIX) that are making multi billion-dollar investments in renewable energy.
One of the biggest assumption the Cal report makes involves the rise of a U.S. battery industry. “We don’t have a battery industry today,” said Shai Agassi, CEO of electric car infrastructure startup Better Place, on Friday at a panel Green Wombat moderated for the University of California’s Global Technology Leaders Conference. “Either we make them here or they’re going to be made in China.”
Agassi and the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland on Friday announced that Better Place would build a $1 billion network of charging stations throughout the Bay Area. Renault-Nissan has agreen to provide Better Place with the hundreds of thousands of electric cars it’ll need to put on the road make its business model profitable.