Unfortunately, the big battery breakthrough still isn't on the horizon. In June, Musk was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying, "There are few industries with more BS than the battery industry. It's really quite remarkable."
That hardly sounds like a vote of confidence in battery technology.
Maybe Musk sees a breakthrough of another sort on the horizon. If there is such a breakthrough, though, it's going to have to happen soon for automakers to reach 50 percent in 15 years. Kevin See, an analyst for Lux Research Inc., told us:
We do expect innovation and there are things that you can't predict. But when it takes six years to develop a new car and get it to the market, it's hard to see how we could get to 50 percent so fast. For that to happen, all of the major automakers would have to dive in wholeheartedly, and they'd have to do it soon.
Forecasts of massive EV success have been frequent since the late 1980s, of course. During the 80s and 90s, battery manufacturers were notorious for saying that we were on the cusp of an EV revolution.
Musk is different, though. He has built electric cars, worked closely with battery makers, is acutely aware of the unfulfilled promises of the past two decades, and has succeeded anyway. He has to be taken seriously.
His prediction could easily be written off as a bit of hype. Or it could simply be interpreted as overstatement during the thrill of the Model S introduction. Then again, there's always the other possibility: Whatever Musk is seeing isn't visible to the rest of the auto industry. It wouldn't be the first time.