Their focus convinces us to strongly believe EVs (Electric vehicles) will be the Model T of the 21st Century. The Model T replaced the horse-and-buggy very fast with its obvious advantages on speed, practicality, affordability, etc. A similar phenomenon is beginning to take place in a few countries around the world, where the percentage of new vehicles purchased with a plug are moving up.
Right now, they represent only a rather insignificant percentage if you make comparisons. However the trend just might follow the Model T syndrome, should the price of the vehicle reaches the level of its ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) counterparts, which have been improved, refined and mass-produced for over a century.
Barriers holding back the adoption of electric vehicles
1. Lack of infrastructure to recharge the batteries – the time to implement this is longer than that of petrol.
2. “Range Anxiety” – this often discussed issue also acting against the sales of pure electric vehicles due to the scarcity of recharging outlets.
The efforts on building them work in direct proportion of the production or sales of EVs and vice-versa.
If one just to imagine being in a permanent reduction of about 95 percent of all petrol stations, as happened temporarily during the 1970s OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil embargo, who would consider buying the car they are driving right now? This is the more or less the situation, early EV adopters are in nowadays.
The battery cost is the major contributor for the difference in sticker prices in the scale EV vs. ICE. They have been gradually coming down in the last years, and promising to get closer to the level of Lead-Acid 150+ years old chemistry, however the skyrocketing prices of rare metals, mined only in a very few countries, might make it an uphill battle. This could especially occur when EVs reach the mainstream market and overheat the demand to the stratosphere.
Nonetheless, major players, including companies in different business areas such as Internet providers and portable electronics are investing heavily in the EV business model. Even the United Nations are organizing international conventions where they are calling for talks and commitments to work in favor of the decarbonisation of human activity. This obviously includes the adoption of vehicles with no toxic emissions.
All the latest news stories are pointing to a carbon-free transition in land transportation, however it has to go also through a very strong opposition from the “business-as-usual” heavy-set players and the questions remain: how long will the battle take, and who will win at the end?
The transition to green urban transportation
In fact, that end could happen much sooner than one might think, should a coalition of utility companies, power contractors, etc. join the cause by taking over the battery-modules ownership. They could negotiate a SAE/DIN standardization with automakers and lease them to motorists on a pay-as-you-go basis. It would bring EV prices down to competitiveness right there; would create thousands of outsource-proof jobs while shifting all profits from energy acquisition for transportation in-house, end most (if not all) conflicts over oil as well as significantly reduce the risks of the possibility of funding terrorist organizations.
This might sound like another pie-in-the-sky idea (like EVs not too long ago) however: Should petrol products distribution companies also join the bandwagon by installing modular instant-swapping battery-modules machinery on the area of the barely used parking spots of their petrol stations, it would spell the arrival of the transition.
Automated Recharging or Instant-switching Electric Stations (ARIES) would benefit motorists living in apartments, flats, townhouses without access to overnight electrical outlets, as well as long distance drivers, out-of-towners, taxis, rentals, car-share, couriers, police cruisers, etc., without interrupting the traditional petrol business.
The potentially profitable network of stations could also take care of fluctuation of consumption plus “peak-shave”, allowing power plants to operate in a 30~50 percent (depending on the size and density of the network) capacity steady output 24/7, improving equipment efficiency or maintenance while avoiding typically wasted electricity.
They will serve also as perfect sites for the construction of sub-stations (on their penthouses), which could counter-act a threat of blackout locally. Larger format “ARIES” systems could also be built to serve trucks, trailers and buses.
Should a coalition of other retailers decide to join the “green-club”, it would sure help to speed up the transition, as they could also use their outlet network for the sales and servicing EVs. In fact, there is a minimum requirement for maintenance on these automobiles – no oil changes, hundreds of moving parts, mufflers, radiators, fuel stuff, etc.
Very fortunately, there are some signs of cooperation among major players in the EV manufacturing business which give us hope in the possibility of the creation of an international coalition to save the planet.
What will be the outcome of the investments of Internet providers and smartphone or computer manufacturers, as well as the possibility of involvement of utility companies, petrol distributors and other retailers in electric vehicle (EV) activities? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.