Warren Buffett: All Cars Will Be Electric. In 20 Years

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Hidden deep down in a story written by the Houston Chronicle about Rice Business School students visiting Warren Buffett, there is a startling prediction by the Oracle of Omaha.

Jan Goetgeluk, president of the business school’s Finance Club, asked what Buffett thought of the peak oil theory.

Reports the Houston Chronicle, to the dismay of the many oilmen amongst its readers: “Buffett told him that in 20 years, he believes all the cars on the road will be electric. He’s already invested in a Chinese company working on the technology to make it happen.”

That company of course is BYD, the Chinese automaker i n which Berkshire Hathaway owns 10 percent, so Warren might be driven by a bit of self-interest. A BYD car, the F3, has been a chart topper in China. However, it is powered by a conventional ICE.

Gurufocus.com, the website that follows Warren Buffett to a degree that borders on stalking, says Buffett’s prediction “explains another reason why Burlington Northern Santa Fe would be attractive to Buffett.” Nah, it’s not because people will take the train.

“All those electric cars will need to be recharged,” says Gurufocus, “and the electricity that will enable that will be mostly created by coal, at least for the foreseeable future. Burlington’s tracks run right through the coal-rich Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, meaning BNSF will be hauling coal to meet the nation’s increased electrical needs.”

Still, Buffett may be engaged in a little hedging. He recently plunked down $100m on Exxon Mobile. Gurufocus has an explanation for that: “Exxon does much more than produce oil.”

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • No_slushbox No_slushbox on Nov 30, 2009

    I never said that our military are mercenaries; the US is contracting for over 100,000 actual, mercenary by definition, armed private contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Their use has been heavily lobbied for by private contractors like Xe, its politically convenient because it keeps deaths off the news, and unfortunately it is possibly necessary because the US military is not authorized to directly pay experienced people enough to keep them. The use of private contractor mercenaries, which is spreading to domestic US security, is a huge threat to democracy. With poor white trash I was calling out the disdain that is given to other government employees. Like any generalization it is not true for every individual, and the military is a good career and educational decision for people well into the middle class. If only because there are not a lot of other job opportunities.

  • Dolorean23 Dolorean23 on Nov 30, 2009
    re: poor white trash – Joining the military is an intelligent choice for someone poor or middle class. It pays for college, it qualifies people for very good jobs like suburban police officers and private security contractors, and there is a lot of job stability. That said, it’s not something people volunteer to do, it is something that people are paid rather well to do, when all the benefits are considered, compared to what most enlistees other opportunities would be. I’m just calling out this make believe world where the modern US military is protecting US freedom. It isn’t, it’s a government jobs program for the poor and middle class, and the jobs could be created a lot less expensively in the US. Having been in the Army 18 yrs this month, I have to say that I resemble this remark. A child of a single mom who thankfully found employment in the digital sector selling flash memory from the earliest beginnings, I had no means to go to college. I joined simply for the funds and the opportunity to see the world when I was still young. I found the military to be a career I never thought I would want and to those of you who have never felt the joy of true comradery and the self-sacrifice you and your Soldiers have for one another, then I truly feel sorry for you. The Army gave me the money and the time to go to college for my BA and Master's degree and in return it's seen fit to promote me again to Major. I've deployed four times now and hate being away from my wife and kids, but relish being with my Soldiers, whom I trained, know, and would gladly die for. I'm no pro-American right winger as I prefer to get my news from NPR and the Kansas City Star than Fox. Still, I am by definition white trash. I take no offense to this remark as I and many others have served to let people say whatever they want. I would prefere to stick to cars which is my passion as well as yours otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.
  • Don1967 Don1967 on Nov 30, 2009

    I see that a new thread has been opened specifically for political discussion, and I respectfully suggest that rants about white trash, military mercenaries, Iran, Iraq, and peasant slaves would be more appropriate there. Let's give the moderators a freakin' break.

  • Paul Scott Paul Scott on Dec 03, 2009

    As one who has been driving a fully electric Toyota RAV4 EV for 7 years, and charging it with a solar PV system, I can speak to the question of whether this technology is ready. My little SUV will out accelerate the gas version of the car and hit a top speed of 80 mph, plenty fast enough for me. The car emits zero pollution, well-to-wheels and is as quiet as a bicycle. I've got 76,000 miles on the car, all of them driven on kWh generated by the sunlight falling on my roof. I haven't been to a gas station in 7 years and my electric bill is a measly $100 per year, for both the house and car! I mostly charge at home while I'm sleeping, but there are lots of public chargers around the LA area that I can use for free. For instance, when I'm shopping at the grocery store, getting a haircut or going out for dinner and a movie, my car is charging for free courtesy of the grocery store or the city of Santa Monica. New charging infrastructure is being deployed up and down the west coast next year in the tens of thousands to get ready for the thousands of new EVs that will be coming to market. This technology is indeed ready for prime time. While the last round of EVs were the victim of an attempted murder (see "Who Killed the Electric Car?"), a few hundred survived the crushers and are still running perfectly well 7-10 years later. LiIon batteries are significantly better than the NiMH batteries in my RAV. Those of us in the EV movement are eagerly awaiting the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, both of which will be in showrooms next fall. If you don't like giving your money to the oil companies, or to the terrorists, an EV will allow you to keep all of your money domestic. If you don't want to pollute your kid's air, then an EV is the vehicle for you.