Elon Musk robotaxis

A year ago there was clear global vision for a rapid transition towards self-driving electric cars.

In light of last week's brutal Bloomberg takedown of self-driving cars, the vision is becoming undone. Elon Musk's promise of robotaxis may have saved Tesla but his growing reputation as a huckster is exposing many of the fantasies.

Another reality check this month came from Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, who warned there will be 'tremendous shortages' of lithium and battery-grade nickel.

“Just like the fully autonomous cars that we are all supposed to be driving by now, EVs are just going to take longer to become mainstream than media would like us to believe,” Toyoda said in a recording of the remarks to dealers shown to reporters. “In the meantime, you have many options for customers.”

In addition, questions are growing about the overall impact of electric cars on emissions. There was a long-running fanciful vision of the near-future where everyone would switch to electric cars and that would be the end of oil. The energy crisis has laid bare the reality: EVs only displace a small part of fossil fuels and only if they're charged with green energy. Moverover, energy everywhere is in short supply with grids already underbuilt. Intermittency problems plague solar and windmills.

Another problem is the borrowing costs are rising. The endless money sinkhole of the ZIRP era is ending with no money left for moonshot projects and still not enough going into transition metals mining.

Ultimately, what it means is a slow, stubborn and expensive energy transition. We'll be relying on government policies to allocate capital and -- as anyone knows -- you get elected by promising quick and easy solutions. There aren't any here.