2018 might go down as the year when electric cars went mainstream. Sales of vehicles like this up around 40% in Europe and the US. Sales in China, the largest market for such cars, up 88% in the first eight months of the year. In London, I'm Reuters reporter Julian Satterthwaite.
And I've been looking at whether this year really marked a tipping point for electric cars. Talk about electric autos and you have to start with Elon Musk.>> Either we try something new or we will be stuck in traffic hell for the rest of our lives.>> His restless innovation may be paying off finally, Tesla making its first profit in the third quarter.
But in a way, the biggest story was elsewhere with signs the major carmakers are getting serious about electric. Here's the Volkswagen boss speaking in November.>> We'll invest almost 44 billion euros in electric mobility, autonomous driving, new mobility services, and digitalization.>> And it's not just VW piling in.
Jaguar, Mercedes, Audi, and other big names all unveiling new EVs. The pluses of these cars are obvious besides not using any gas. They're smooth, quiet, and actually very zippy around town. But the minuses are pretty obvious too. Though range is getting better all the time, it's still a worry for many people.
Then there's the question of charging it. There just aren't enough public charging points, and that leaves people worrying that they will get stuck somewhere with a flat battery. EVs are also expensive compared to regular cars, but the next generation could change that. VW says its ID model will go on sale in early 2020 and cost less than $23,000, the same as one of its regular Golfs.
For Elon Musk, it all raises the question whether he's going to be muscled out by the big boys. Even if he is, his creation has done the whole sector a favor. Where EVs were once niche oddities, Tesla made them seem cool. As the world catches on though, it might yet be the Germans who reap the benefits.