dot.LA Summit: The Biggest Driver of Electric Vehicle Adoption Could be Gas Prices

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Summit EV adoption panel
image by David Ruano

It’s hard to imagine a better setting for dot.LA’s panel on clean mobility than the Petersen Auto Museum – the hulking, futuristic aluminum installation in Los Angeles’ Museum Row that houses more than 300 vehicles, both new and antique.

Hosted by dot.LA’s climate and energy reporter David Shultz, auto and tech enthusiasts gathered at the auspicious location for a discussion about the future of electric vehicles and how long it might take for them to overtake internal combustion engines.


Panelist Scott Painter, founder and CEO of Santa Monica-based electric vehicle subscription startup Autonomy, told Shultz he was aware of myriad of factors that could impact widespread EV adoption, including government incentives, rebates and regulations – but the big one, he noted, was gas prices.

“Here in California they are approaching $7 a gallon,” Painter told the panel. “The financial reality for almost anybody driving an internal combustion engine car is that it is cheaper to sell their internal combustion engine car and buy an electric car, even if it costs a little bit more [up front].”

Paul Gioupis, founder and CEO of Zeem Solutions, an electric trucking startup based in Inglewood, weighed in and added he thought the EV industry needs to embrace innovation if it wants to conquer the market.

Even though most people still drive gas-powered cars – the federal Energy Information Administration cited last year that gas accounted for 58% of transportation energy consumption nationwide, and noted California was the second-highest consumer of gas (our state’s share of national gas consumption is 9%) – each panelist was optimistic about how the EV market is trending.

“The number one thing that adds to the success of any business is a change in consumer behavior,” Painter said. “What we're seeing is a real tectonic shift in consumer behavior – and it's not just that consumers have started to line up and get on the waitlist for electric cars, it is also that the [manufacturers] have also started to now say, we're gonna go ahead and make electric cars.”

Painter also pointed out that General Motors is one of many household brands going all-in on electrification, including making electric Cadillacs, Chevy Silverados, Corvettes and even Hummers. Adding that, “It’s pretty clear we’re going to be driving electric cars.”

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