EVs today are where the internet was in the late 1990s — poised to be essential and commonplace
No doubt you’ve heard it, and probably even said it: “Electric vehicles will completely change our transportation, by providing quiet, zero-tailpipe-emission travel with very low operating costs.” Or words to similar effect. Of course, all of that is true, but to focus just on these areas misses a very big part of how electric vehicles become a core pillar of our New Mobility revolution.
Most analysts define the way mobility will change based on the “CASE” principles: Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric (also called ACES by some). In all four of these areas, we are seeing a dramatic revolution in development, cost reduction, new business models and opportunities.
Uber and Lyft ride-hailing services showed that we could be quickly and conveniently connected to personal mobility through our smartphones to drivers who shared their service for a fee. Car-sharing as well, whether it be station-based, free-floating or peer-to-peer business models, relies on apps to connect us with transportation.
We are seeing dramatic developments in autonomous technology. This is a hot industry right now, with almost all OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers and many new startups pursuing development to make the ultimate “taxi bot” fully self-driving vehicle of the future.
Autonomous promises much — a great reduction in death, injury and property loss by preventing human error in accidents is a huge imperative. The World Health Organization states that more than 1.25 million people die from road accidents every year. That’s one person every 25 seconds, or six people by the time you hit the end of this article. Let that statistic sink in for a moment.
Autonomous also promises to reclaim your commuting time towards more productive activities, like working from your car or potentially a fully immersive in-car entertainment experience. Personally, I’d translate that time into a quick daily nap!
For many people, shared mobility is a way to both greatly reduce the congestion on our roads, as well as gain efficiencies from multiple-person car use. Generally, this is quite true although there’s no doubt that some people will not want to give up their personal space during their commute if they don’t have to.
The rise of these pillars of New Mobility is quite remarkable in and of itself; however, when combined together, they create a “virtuous cycle” where each technology relies upon and feeds off the other to the extent that, combined, they create a much greater potential for growth and new opportunities, and of course, industry disruption for those businesses who are not able to adapt. We’re now witnessing OEMs and other large entities putting these pieces in place to create New Mobility platforms from which to expand their business beyond just making and wholesaling cars to their dealer network partners.
So where does that leave the fourth pillar, electric vehicles? The answer is short — with an obviously huge opportunity to transform future mobility. At my company, we are forecasting that by 2030 more than 30 percent of new vehicles sold in developed countries will be full battery electric vehicles. Taking a subset of that, EV buses and medium trucks will be as high as 60 percent of new vehicles sold in that segment. Compared to today’s sales volumes of around 2 percent, this is extraordinary, hockey-stick style growth.
These sales will be fuelled by increasingly stringent government emission regulations, city bans of internal combustion engine vehicles and continued falling technology costs that will make battery electric vehicles cost competitive with IC vehicles in less than two years.
All of this means that right now we’re close to a tipping point where EV sales, the infrastructure and the net-positive benefits come to the forefront of everyday public consciousness. Remember the late 1990s with the internet? We’re right there with EVs today.
James Carter is Principal Consultant of Vision Mobility, a Toronto-based consultancy that provides services to OEMs, Tier 1s, dealers, startups, industry organizations and companies on strategies to succeed in a New Mobility environment. Prior to that, James worked for Toyota for 19 years in Australia, Asia and North America.