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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Are you Prepared for the Transport Disruption?

According to Tony Seba’s new book “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation”, over the next thirteen years we can all expect to face a complete disruption of our methods of transportation, no matter which political party happens to get themselves elected in the UK this week. This is because major corporations in Silicon Valley, USA are investing so heavily in high tech, software driven solutions to transport needs that it will be for reasons of economics that we will all choose to convert from our current methods rather than any great turnaround in people’s desires to save the planet.

We have all anticipated electric cars for years now and seen them become a luxury that very few can afford, as well as having limited range to attract the mainstream car owner. We may have quietly put them to one side as insignificant toys that won’t have any impact on our lifestyles within the foreseeable future. Well, think again!

Seba gives nine reasons why Electric Vehicles (EV’s) will be disruptive – by which he means that they will completely destroy the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) business models. These are:-

  1. The Electric Motor is Five Times More Energy Efficient
  2. The Electric Vehicle is Ten Times Cheaper to Charge
  3. The Electric Vehicle is Ten Times Cheaper to Maintain
  4. The Electric Vehicle will Disrupt the Petrol/Diesel Car Aftermarket
  5. Wireless Charging will Allow Smaller Batteries and Faster Charging
  6. The EV has a Modular Design Architecture
  7. Big Data allows Fast Product Development
  8. Solar Power combined with Electric Vehicles is Four Hundred Times More Land Efficient
  9. Electric Vehicles Can Contribute to Grid Storage and other Services

I don’t have space to go into details here about each of these ( I recommend reading his book for that!) but even a quick mention of these reasons should be enough for you to see that there are a lot of benefits to be gained for everyone by changing our fossil fuel based vehicles for electric ones. Already the Tesla Model S was announced the winner of Motor Trend magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year award. Not just Electric Car of the Year but Car of the Year. It outperformed any car ever tested. That was four years ago.

Also notice number 4 in the reasons list. Because an electric car doesn’t need any of the parts that have to do with combustion you won’t need spark plugs, starters, alternators, fuel injectors, pistons, combustion chambers etc. etc. You won’t need oil changes every 3000 miles because an EV doesn’t need oil. We will all spend 90% less on maintaining our vehicles and they will last much longer. Can you imagine what this is going to do to garages and parts and tools suppliers?

Next will come autonomous vehicles – cars that don’t need a driver. “A self-driving car would pick you up, drive you to your destination, drop you off and pick up the next customer. When you need to go to your next destination, you would put in an order on your smartphone app. Another autonomous vehicle would pick you up and drive you there.”

Is this just a pipe-dream? Autonomous cars may already drive better than most humans! The Google self-driving car has travelled 500,000 miles without causing an accident. “Globally, 1.24 million people died of traffic-related accidents in 2010, according to the World Health Organisation. Additionally 20 to 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries because of traffic accidents annually.” There are many other benefits to allowing computers to drive our cars and leave us spend our time more productively while travelling but if they were to make traffic accidents a thing of the past this would be worth doing anyway! And how far off is this reality? “The year 2020 may be the first year of fully autonomous cars.”

So prepare yourself for the change that is a-coming. Not everyone is going to be happy about it and there may be political attempts to prevent it because of all those job-losses for drivers and garage mechanics. Yet this is what needs to happen for us to get rid of the oil, gas and coal industries and have a chance of stopping irreversible climate change. Just as people who bred and looked after horses and trams had to get used to the new world of motor cars so we will have to accept the new world of renewable energy, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. We will be rewarded through our pockets – free fuel, cheap travel whenever we need it and no need to own vehicles that we only use for a couple of hours a day.

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