According to Bloomberg, a bill that will soon be offered in the California Assembly will ban automobiles that run on gasoline in that state by 2040. However, if predictions cited the Economist are accurate, the law, if passed, will be redundant. Electric cars will be the norm, likely by before 2040. While the switch from the internal combustion engine to batteries will have a number of benefits, not all of them environmental, it will also cause a number of problems.

The car of the future

The car of the future will not only be electric but also will not require a driver.

Green-oriented politicians in California are not the only ones who have noticed that such vehicles do not cause emissions, at least directly, as do the gas or diesel fueled cars we drive in today. Electric vehicles will also have fewer moving parts, which means that they will be cheaper to build and maintain. The self-driving features mean that commuting will change from the way we know it. We’ll not likely even own private cars any longer, but will summon them on a smart device, and sleep and do other things while going to work. Self-driving cars will not need massive garages or parking lots but instead will scoot off to pick up another passenger once they drop you off.

The downside

Of course, as with any other Technological revolution, a downside exists for the electric car revolution.

A great many jobs are going to go away from car manufacturers (which are being automated anyway) and a slew of other industries such as dealerships and truck driving companies. On the other hand, if most cars are owned by transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft, employment in such industries will rise accordingly.

Electric Cars are going to have to be accompanied by a vast increase in electrical generation capacity.

The electricity with which one charges the batteries is going to have to come from somewhere. The legislators of California are not going to be pleased if a bunch of fossil-fueled generation plants have to be built to accommodate the need for electric cars. Wind and solar power likely will not be able to take up the slack. Does that leave nuclear power or even future fusion power?

Also, specific strategic materials such as lithium and cobalt that are used in electric cars are already getting more expensive. Either battery technology has to change to use more commonly available materials, or new sources have to be found. Also, lithium mining tends to be both an energy intensive and water-intensive operation, resulting in more environmental problems.