Today, the majority of transport gets its energy from the forecourt pump, filling our tanks from a supply chain of tankers delivering refined liquid products of time and dinosaur. Governments are doing what they can to reduce or ban oil combusting engines and most vehicle manufacturers offer some form of electric vehicle.
So, what happens to the energy supply chain when there is a significant take-up of electric vehicles? The expectation is people plug cars into the grid, which creates major challenges for many different parties:
What size charger do you fit at home? How many charging points are needed in the work or shopping centre carpark? What will the take-up rate be? Who pays for the infrastructure? Will there be enough grid capacity and network to electrify transport? When will this happen?
STOP! Are we at risk of trying to solve these problems through today’s lens?
Let me share a personal experience to explain: After accidentally destroying the engine of my household’s second car, cost to repair vs replace investigations led to questioning utilisation vs costs. Cars are pretty inefficient assets; the majority spending 95% of their life parked somewhere. I decided to scrap the car, not invest in a replacement and to use Uber to get from A to B, and in doing so, save a bunch of cash and never have to hunt or pay for a carpark space ever again.
Are we at risk of trying to solve these problems through today’s lens?
Uber costs less than traditional taxis, in part because of their utilisation – they can afford to be cheaper because they have higher utilisation than traditional cabs that queue for half an hour at the airport, take 1 passenger to destination before returning empty to the airport queue. But unless Uber drivers car share, their vehicle utilisation is constrained by biology; the driver having to take various forms of biopauses.
Now throw selfdriving, autonomous vehicles into the mix – with no biological constraints, utilisation is only limited by customer demand and car state of battery / servicing needs. This increased utilisation further reduces the cost of travel which could seriously start to make people challenge and question car ownership over other investments, like bucket list items.
The shop, school run or commute becomes a service, an app calling on autonomous fleets making decisions which are best suited to get you from A to B, while they dream of their next charge point. And if that happens why would anyone need an electric charge point on their drive, at the work or shopping centre car park?
Read more on automated and connected driving in this Magazine special.