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Bill Gates Doesn’t Believe Electric Semis and Passenger Jets Will Ever Happen

Just recently, Elon Musk stated his conviction that further battery development would soon make it possible to have all-electric semis on the road, and maybe even electric passenger jets in the air. Bill Gates isn’t so sure about either.
Bill Gates says electrification will "probably never" work for semis and passenger jets 11 photos
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In fact, the Microsoft co-founder is convinced we will “probably never” get electric semis and jets, as he states in a recent blog post. In the text, which was posted online late last month, Gates explains why he thinks electrification is only a solution for short-distance transport. He says, more or less, that he doesn’t believe battery technology will ever get to where it needs to be to allow for long-haul transport.

Gates concedes that electrification for passenger vehicles is a proper solution in terms of cutting down on pollution. He notes that many carmakers are now offering electric variants of their popular cars, which is a bonus for consumers: they might be a bit more expensive than diesel variants, but they’re accessible, affordable and very cool. As a side note, Gates drives an EV himself: his first electric car was the Porsche Taycan, which totally got on Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s nerves.

“You’ll even be able to buy an all-electric pick-up truck soon thanks to legacy companies like GM and Ford and new carmakers like Rivian and Bollinger,” Gates goes on to say. Notice how conveniently he forgot to mention the Tesla Cybertruck, arguably the most highly anticipated electric pickup truck of the bunch.

But that’s where the benefits of electrification for transport stop, Gates writes.

“The problem is that batteries are big and heavy. The more weight you’re trying to move, the more batteries you need to power the vehicle. But the more batteries you use, the more weight you add—and the more power you need,” he says. “Even with big breakthroughs in battery technology, electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets. Electricity works when you need to cover short distances, but we need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles.”

That solution could be either alternative fuels or electrofuels, Gates continues. His statement that electric semis and passenger jets will “probably never” happen ignores the fact that electric semis are already being tested on U.S. roads. Tesla, for instance, estimates that its Semi will go into production in 2021.

 
 
 
 
 

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