DETROIT — They all must know a lot more than I do. Huge auto companies around the world are betting billions — with a "B" — on the idea that customers all over the globe are just waiting for the chance to buy vehicles powered by electricity.
It seems they believe that millions of people are holding their breath for the chance to abandon internal combustion engines.
I admit I am not considering the idea that governments and states will mandate zero-pollution vehicles. And maybe gasoline will skyrocket to $6 or $7 a gallon.
But if these car companies are really planning to introduce massive numbers of electric-powered models, they are very late in their efforts to convince even a small number of us that this will be an improvement over current power plants.
It all must be based on research that none of us has seen up to now. Just look at the number of electric vehicles that have been sold to date, and you wonder who is going to buy all these newly powered cars, trucks and SUVs.
Meanwhile, these same companies seem to be rushing headlong into autonomous vehicles. These investments — also involving billions — may be on somewhat firmer ground.
Whether there will be enough buyers no one knows. It's not clear whether it will be months or years until this technology is proved to the point where consumers feel comfortable owning and operating a self-driving vehicle.
Certainly, elderly individuals and the disabled are natural customers. Delivery and shuttle services will be another potential market.
But considering the huge investment, as well as the inevitable government testing and approval process, it could be quite a while before these vehicles are available.
So, car companies and others are spending billions on new technology that has not been verified.
Time will tell who the winners and losers are, but the winners could be those who are taking a more modest path and continuing to focus on their traditional products.
Mr. Crain is chairman of Crain Communications Inc., parent company of Tire Business, and is editor-in-chief of Detroit-based Automotive News.