As the UK government announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars that will come into force in 2030, visits to my article on the future of fuel forecourts rocketed. And that made me think.
Will electric vehicles take over the market, and what other innovations will this stimulate?
As I started looking for answers a few things jumped out at me.
There is significant investment going into developing the charging point infrastructure to allow people to charge their vehicles at home, at work, during recreation time.
Previously on this site, I wrote about how I thought we’d only see meaningful movement towards sustainability when companies were incentivised by ESG focused investors.
In recent news, it seems the tide is turning and there's a $130 Trillion mega trend that will surely help spur investment into energy generation, distribution, EV adoption, and many of the adjacent markets, some of which I mention below.
Energy Network Transformation
The complexities of delivering the kind of electrical power that we need, where we need it, for electric vehicles to take over from traditional combustion engine vehicles goes beyond power generation.
In a couple of other articles, I found examples of technologies that are being developed to improve management of renewable energy networks, as well as improve profitability of these and resources as a way to help drive further inclusion of renewable energy into the broader energy mix.
These technologies are important because renewable energies are often at their peak generation capability, when the electrical demand is at its lowest, and also the infrastructure required to generate significant amounts of renewable power is is considerably more distributed, and therefore much harder to manage in traditional ways than, say, a coal or large-scale hydroelectric power plants.
Another challenge that has garnered a lot of interest is how this energy will be secured, shared, monetised, and distributed. In this arena there are a multitude of sharing-economy inspired blockchain based apps and services coming to market. These would allow you to securely rent out your charging point.
On a similar point, there has been discussion around how to enable users who have excess charge in their batteries to contribute this back to the energy networks, and be compensated for this.
Then, thinking back to my last house that sat next to a local substation transformer, I wonder if we even have the local distribution networks to charge two cars per household, and what redevelopment will be required there?
Aftermarket EV supplies
There must be a rapidly developing aftermarket industry specifically for electric vehicle spares, diagnostics and accessories.
Electric vehicles are similar to traditional vehicles in many ways, including the fact they have wheels brakes, lights, passenger and cargo areas. But, at a high level, that's where many of the similarities stop. The thing that makes an automobile an automobile, e.g. the ability to turn power into transportation, is completely different. It's not just the energy source, it is how that energy source is managed and delivered through to the wheels and tires touching the roads.
It is how their energy sources are managed during breaking and cornering, when stationary delivering in car entertainment and air-conditioning. It is entirely different, and with that comes in entirely new set of after-market requirements from consumers, mechanics and engineers, and new entrants to the market.
One simple example is the humble 5L emergency fuel can. If you run out of electricity a couple of kilometres before the next charging point, you can't simply pick up your green plastic fuel can, and top it up.
Solutions that use portable batteries to top-up depleted electric vehicles are already on the market, such as the rather pricey portable EV charging solution from Blink. Initially aimed at recovery services operators, these devices can recharge electric vehicles in an emergency, enabling them to limp to a proper charging point.
Car to Car Charging
On the topic of breakdown recovery, I wonder if we will see solutions to share your charge with a friend coming to market? In this case you'd plug your car into your friends, open an app and choose how much you want to share. Perhaps if you were helping out a stranger, the app would allow you to monetise this somehow too?
Theft of electricity from your home charger, or you're fully charged car is apparently not much of an issue today because of several factors, probably the most important being the risk/reward balance for the would-be thief is just not high enough - There are not enough electric vehicles around, it takes too long to charge, and during this time any potential theft may be easily spotted by passers-by or neighbours.
But that's today, in 20 years time when electric vehicles are more prevalent in all societies, and some of the questions above have been answered, enterprising yet lawbreaking individuals will surely find a way to siphon energy from unsuspecting vehicles and households, so what can be built into the vehicles, the charging points, the legal and insurance systems to prevent and this incentivise this before it becomes a problem?
Many household chargers today already schedule features or app-powered digital locks that can restrict charging to specific times of days. This meaning you can set your charger to only charge when you're likely to be at home, so if anybody drives up to your house and plugs a vehicle in whilst you're away, they are unlikely to get a single amp. But maybe there's a way to create digital fingerprints between the cars and the charging stations, to understand the charge and characteristics, and share these across a distributed network to track and alert for irregularities in behaviour?
Three EV Startups
So let's look at three start-ups in this area. Why three? Simply because it rhymes with EV 😁
So, will electric vehicles over take combustion?
In a recent study by Bloomber's New Energy Finance group, although electric vehicles currently make up only 3% of global car sales in 2030 this will have risen to 28% by 2040 it will be 58% of the total new car sales. Even then, that will make up just under a third of the cars on the road.
So, yes electric vehicles have a trajectory that will take them to significant global market share, but there are many things yet to be solved before we see more EVs on the road than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.
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Tell me what you think
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