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The Future of Mobility & Transportation Part Three

Twenty Years from Now

As with every other form of technology that has seen widespread adoption in the past one hundred years, the move towards autonomous vehicles has been a slow but steady journey.

In Part One: Present Day Developments, we discussed the various deals being made today by the automakers and tech companies responsible for the current advances in autonomous vehicles, while Part Two: In Ten Years’ Time dealt with the opportunities and challenges airline operators face over the next ten years.

In the third and final entry of CarTrawler’s The Future of Mobility & Transportation white paper, we’re forecasting twenty years from now to try and predict how some of the other major players in the autonomous vehicle sector, namely the battery and renewable energy industries, will stimulate growth in this area and how they stand to benefit.

 

Building Better Batteries

The self-driving revolution will not be the only seismic shift to occur within the automobile industry in the coming years, as an increasing number of automakers are committing to manufacturing electric cars.

Many of these automakers have signalled their intention to ultimately stop producing fossil fuel powered cars, and countries including Britain, France and India[1] have set deadlines as to when they will completely ban said vehicles, with both Britain and France aiming for a 2040 end date.

In order for the electric car to survive, it is essential for the battery industry to develop electric car batteries capable of competing with, and one day surpassing, the output of fossil fuel vehicles.

This is underway and we already have evidence that battery makers understand the massive opportunity that awaits should they lead the electric car battery market.

For instance, reports surfaced in July of a new partnership between Apple and China’s largest automotive battery maker CATL which many believe is related to Apple’s autonomous electric car project, ‘Project Titan’[2].

Similarly, the battery divisions of Samsung[3], Panasonic[4] and Toyota[5] are all busy developing their own electric car batteries and aim to have their respective technologies on the market by 2020 at the latest.

Tesla is perhaps making the biggest developments in this area, and is reportedly working on an aluminium-featuring electric car battery that could last for up to twenty years[6].

The recent electric car forecast[7] from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BENF) foresees electric vehicles outselling fossil fuel powered vehicles within the next twenty years, propelled by the fast falling prices of the lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars.

As the BENF forecast points out, the world’s biggest economies will drive demand for battery powered electric cars across the next 25 years, resulting in the displacement of around 8 million barrels a day of oil production by 2040.

So what does this mean for the battery industry at large?

Ostensibly, it suggests the battery industry will take on a much more prominent role in the auto industry and will likely lead to new relationships between battery makers, automakers and the tech companies developing autonomous systems.

It also suggests oil producers will soon witness a mass exodus of vehicle generated profits as their product falls by the wayside in favour of cheaper and more easily available power sources.

However, it is not the battery makers who are destined to capitalise on the oil producers’ loss, but the renewable energy industry, as it attempts to further dislodge the grip oil has on the world.

 

Endless Energy

The flurry of recent developments in the electric car and autonomous vehicle sectors is no coincidence as these two forms of transport technology are synonymous with one another.

They’re both dedicated to improving the quality of service they offer; electric cars aim to tackle the problem of pollution caused by fossil fuel powered vehicles, while autonomous vehicle systems are designed to reduce and eventually negate automobile accidents.

To succeed, the electric powered autonomous vehicle needs the support of four industries in particular: the automakers and tech companies featured in part 1, the battery makers discussed above, and the emerging renewable energy industry.

Some of the companies involved in the development and advancement of autonomous vehicles have already indicated that they plan to power their vehicles using renewable energy sources, such as the ride-hail company Lyft, which revealed earlier in the year its goal for powering all electric, autonomous vehicles available through its service using 100 percent renewable energy[8].

Countries that wish to replace fossil fuel powered vehicles with electric powered autonomous vehicles must have a somewhat comprehensive renewable energy grid in place in twenty years’ time to cope with the energy demands of electric car owners.

Thankfully, many countries are taking the right steps to guarantee their power grids will be prepared for the coming changes, with places like Iceland[9], Costa Rica[10] and Nicaragua[11] running on close to 90 percent, if not 100 percent, renewable energy sources.

Back in May, Germany announced the commencement of two new large wind power projects by the world’s largest offshore wind developer[12], Scotland is already able to produce 100 percent of its electricity needs through wind power[13], and Saudi Arabia is investing $50 billion in solar and wind power projects over the next ten years[14].

Thanks to the commitment of various governments around the world, the emerging renewable energy is poised to disrupt the fossil fuel energy industry over the next ten years and completely replace it in the ten years that follow, ensuring that the electric powered autonomous vehicle will succeed.

 

A Safer, Greener Future

The electric powered self-driving car typical of so many science fiction stories of the 20th century is finally on our doorstep, ready to transform our world for the better.

It offers to reduce the risk of road accidents and provide us with a simpler, more enjoyable way to travel.

It also stands to eliminate the pollution caused by the some 1.2 billion cars on our roads today and help us safeguard our planet for future generations.

For the first time in the history of the automobile, we now have a vehicle that stands to benefit all and not just the driver, a representation of our struggle towards a fairer and more equal world.

 

Access Part 1 of the series – The Future Of Mobility Part 1: Present Day Developments

Access Part 2 of the series – The Future Of Mobility Part 2: In Ten Years’ Time

 

[1] Source: http://money.cnn.com/2017/07/26/autos/countries-that-are-banning-gas-cars-for-electric/index.html

[2] Source: https://9to5mac.com/2017/07/20/apple-electric-car-batteries-china-battery-maker/

[3] Source: https://futurism.com/samsungs-new-electric-car-batteries-boost-range-to-600-kilometers/

[4] Source: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/29/business/corporate-business/panasonic-steps-lithium-ion-battery-production-amid-electric-vehicle-boom/#.Wc47VWhSyUk

[5] Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bertelschmitt/2017/07/25/ultrafast-charging-solid-state-ev-batteries-around-the-corner-toyota-confirms/

[6] Source: https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/05/electric-cars-and-batteries-could-last-over-20-years-with-new-aluminum-coatings.html

[7] Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-06/the-electric-car-revolution-is-accelerating

[8] Source: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/15/15811484/lyft-climate-change-goals-self-driving-cars-renewable

[9] Source: https://www.ecowatch.com/iceland-worlds-largest-clean-energy-producer-per-capita-1882105880.html

[10] Source: http://www.sciencealert.com/costa-rica-has-been-running-on-100-renewable-energy-for-2-months-straight

[11] Source: https://www.ecowatch.com/nicaragua-joins-clean-energy-revolution-vows-90-renewables-by-2020-1882145790.html

[12] Source: http://bellona.org/news/renewable-energy/2017-05-zero-subsidy-bids-in-germany-a-breakthrough-for-offshore-wind-and-renewable-energy-production#_ftn1

[13] Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/11/scotland-completely-powered-by-wind-turbines-for-a-day

[14] Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-17/saudis-seek-30-solar-wind-projects-in-50-billion-pledge

 


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