Visualizing the Rise of the Electric Vehicle
It’s easy to dismiss exponential growth at its earliest stages.
That’s because at the beginning of such a phenomenon, the quantities involved can seem insignificant. One becomes two, two becomes four, and so on.
But if the environment is right, and the growth continues on, it can all of a sudden take over. This growth can lead to a paradigm shift and a new status quo, as well as massive opportunities along the way.
The Water Droplet Analogy
One famous example of exponential growth is the water droplet and stadium analogy.
Imagine a giant football stadium, and you are sitting in the very highest seat. You can see the whole field.
In the middle of the stadium, there are drops of water falling at an increasing rate. In the first minute a single drop of water falls, in the second minute there are two drops of water added, and in the third minute, there are four drops of water, and so on. The rate doubles each minute.
When do you think the stadium is full of water? Does it take hours, days, or weeks?
For the first 30 minutes, not much seems to happen – there is a growing puddle, but it’s not likely something you can see from the very top seat. After 45 minutes the stadium is still 93% empty – but by 49 minutes, the entire stadium is full of water (and you’re swimming)!
The Electric Vehicle Market
Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it helps visualize anticipated growth in the electric vehicle market – a segment that sits at 1-2% of total vehicle sales currently.
Using projections from Morgan Stanley, it shows that electric vehicle sales are expected to surpass those of traditional vehicles by 2038, while the global fleet of EVs is expected to surpass one billion by 2047.
Meanwhile, the transition to electric will be a game-changer for carmakers. Morgan Stanley’s analysis sees the average profitability of combustion engine models falling through the early 2020s, eventually turning to a loss per unit by 2028.
On the flipside, negative profit margins for electric vehicles will peak in 2023 as production continues to ramp, and EV making will switch to a profitable business by 2029.
An EV Flood?
Will we wake up one morning with the auto market being flooded with new EVs, like in the aforementioned water drop analogy?
Certainly not. Manufacturing processes are notoriously difficult to scale, and we still need to source the raw materials needed to fuel the green revolution.
However, the speed of the transition to electric vehicles will still be surprising to many detractors – and for now, barring an unexpected drop in the price of oil to below $30/bbl, there doesn’t seem to be any obstacle that will slow the adoption of EVs.
Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country
We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium reserves by country, with 3 countries accounting for more than half of total reserves.
Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country
There can be a tendency to believe that uranium deposits are scarce from the critical role it plays in generating nuclear energy, along with all the costs and consequences related to the field.
But uranium is actually fairly plentiful: it’s more abundant than gold and silver, for example, and about as present as tin in the Earth’s crust.
We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium resources by country, as of 2021. Figures come from the World Nuclear Association, last updated on August 2023.
Ranked: Uranium Reserves By Country (2021)
Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada have the largest shares of available uranium resources—accounting for more than 50% of total global reserves.
But within these three, Australia is the clear standout, with more than 1.7 million tonnes of uranium discovered (28% of the world’s reserves) currently. Its Olympic Dam mine, located about 600 kilometers north of Adelaide, is the the largest single deposit of uranium in the world—and also, interestingly, the fourth largest copper deposit.
Despite this, Australia is only the fourth biggest uranium producer currently, and ranks fifth for all-time uranium production.
|Share of Global
|Uranium Reserves (Tonnes)
|🇿🇦 South Africa
|🌍 Rest of World
Figures are rounded.
Outside the top three, Russia and Namibia both have roughly the same amount of uranium reserves: about 8% each, which works out to roughly 470,000 tonnes.
South Africa, Brazil, and Niger all have 5% each of the world’s total deposits as well.
China completes the top 10, with a 3% share of uranium reserves, or about 224,000 tonnes.
A caveat to this is that current data is based on known uranium reserves that are capable of being mined economically. The total amount of the world’s uranium is not known exactly—and new deposits can be found all the time. In fact the world’s known uranium reserves increased by about 25% in the last decade alone, thanks to better technology that improves exploration efforts.
Meanwhile, not all uranium deposits are equal. For example, in the aforementioned Olympic Dam, uranium is recovered as a byproduct of copper mining occurring at the same site. In South Africa, it emerges as a byproduct during treatment of ores in the gold mining process. Orebodies with high concentrations of two substances can increase margins, as costs can be shared for two different products.
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