The wheel was a big step forward, but was really the only significant progress made in transportation from the dawn of man until about 250 years ago at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. We got a big boost, particularly in the past 100 years, from the vast deposits of relatively accessible fossil fuels. We have built a robust transportation system around the immense energy contained in a gallon of gasoline. It’s been a good run, but now our easy access to gasoline is ending and we need to make changes.

It’s taken a while, but we’ve also finally figured out how to store enough electricity in a small battery to make electric cars viable—but only if we completely revamp the entire transportation system, the ways that we generate electricity and the nation’s entire electric power grid. Even harder, we need to convince the public that this new transportation system is robust and won’t leave them stranded. It’s a tall order to think we can do all of that at one time, but the technology exists today to make a significant leap forward. At this point we are only being held up by our inability to recognize the inevitable and commit to a stable and long-term electrified transportation future.

By Kevin Clemens
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