Global Increase in Electric Vehicles Could Have Geopolitical Ramifications

Many believe that electric cars are great for the world, but experts warn that their use could lead to major geopolitical issues in the world’s gas and oil industries.

According to The National Interest, uncertainties regarding oil markets are causing major issues around the world.

Oil prices are on the rise again, and in places like Venezuela, where a supply shortage is looming, more problems could occur. China and India are seeing an increase in oil demand, the Middle East has been struggling with oil issues for years, and Russia and other parts of the world are in danger as well.

The International Energy Agency reports that by 2020, oil prices should rebound in the 80-plus-dollar range. That means more than 40 million barrels of oil each day would need to offset the global decline.

Many believe that electric cars are a great alternative to gas-powered cars and can solve some of the oil problems in Venezuela and the rest of the world. But if electric vehicles are globally implemented as rapidly as smartphone technology, this could cause major destabilization issues for certain countries.

Electric vehicles make up less than 0.1% of the global auto industry, and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) predicts that percentage will likely remain stagnant for more than 20 years. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), however, believes that number is highly unlikely.

“If you look at reports like what OPEC puts out, they put adoption at like 2%,” said Salim Morsy, BNEF analyst and author of their electric vehicle report. “Whether the end number by 2040 is 25% of 50%, it frankly doesn’t matter as much as making the binary call that there will be mass adoption.”

If the global electric car sales rate grows by 60% — which is Tesla’s estimation — there could be a displaced oil demand of roughly two million barrels a day. That shift could create an oversupply of oil equal to what caused the 2014 oil crisis.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that drivers between 18 and 34 years old are less likely to wear seat belts in vehicles, they may be more likely to embrace electric vehicles in the coming years out of concern for the environment. And experts say that electric cars may help improve safety for drivers and passengers, too.

“We may well see further down the line that cars powered solely by electricity can be made even safer than cars with combustion engines,” Thomas Broberg, a Volvo safety expert, told AutoHowStuffWorks.