Think-tank report reveals the future of global electric transport

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 02 Dec 2014 15:31
New report helps picture the future shape of the EV industry
New report helps picture the future shape of the EV industry

Groundbreaking ideas that will shape the future of the electric vehicle (EV) around the world have been published in a new think-tank report.

Consultants Urban Foresight, which is based at The Core in Newcastle’s Science Central, has worked with global partners to look at the 50 most innovative developments in EVs.

Today the company released ‘EV City Casebook 50 Big Ideas’ which profiles the best ideas on how global targets can be met. This includes the UK Government’s vision that from 2040 every new car will be an ultra low emission vehicle and that there will be an effectively decarbonised fleet by 2050.

The report highlights issues around how EVs can make the transition from niche-market to mainstream consumers featuring ideas such as the Korean city of Gumi’s wirelessly charged electric buses, US tech giant Google’s self-driving electric cars, British software company Route Monkey’s tools to optimise fleets for EV adoption and the world’s first EV vending machines in Hangzhou, China.

David Beeton, Director at Urban Foresight, said: “This document profiles 50 examples of transformative policies, projects, technologies and business models that have been implemented in 23 countries across six continents.

“We put out a call for submissions earlier this year which saw over 150 nominations from across the world, spanning the full spectrum of applications related to electric mobility.

“A panel of experts from national governments and international NGOs met in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May 2014 to identify the measures that offered the greatest potential. This led to the 50 Big Ideas which highlights areas of considerable promise for the future of electric mobility.”

The report was produced by Urban Foresight, the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) and the international Energy Agency’s Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Implementing Agreement (IA-HEV).

It describes how as recently as 2007, EVs were a minority item on the agenda of most Governments and vehicle manufacturers. This changed in 2008 when, in the midst of a global economic downturn, a number of vehicle manufacturers announced bold commitments to accelerate their electrification programmes as a strategy for recovery and reinvention. However, these vehicle manufacturers realised that they could not achieve this ambition alone.

Over the course of 2009, partnerships were forged with cities, regions, governments, and key industry actors to create the infrastructure and marketplace for this new technology. This led to the development of multiple collaborative projects, and by 2010 most major cities around the world were hosting infrastructure pilots and vehicle trials in support of government policies to reduce harmful pollution and petroleum dependence.

The early success of these projects contributed to 2017 becoming the year of peak expectation. Cities and fleets competed for the limited numbers of EVs available and demand appeared to greatly exceed supply. However, by 2015 these inflated expectations began to recede. This was the first year in which anyone could choose to buy an electric vehicle, which led people to focus on the limitations and barriers of switching to this new technology.

The report describes how 2013 was a year of contrasting outlooks. There was a swell of enthusiasm buoyed by the increasing choice of EVs and impressive early market sales in places such as Norway and California. However, this was tempered by the perception of slow sales of EVs in many important automotive markets.

This current year has been characterised by questions of how to make the transition from the early niche market to mainstream consumers. The author Geoffrey Moore refers to this as ‘crossing the chasm,’ identifying that many new technologies can be pulled into the market by enthusiasts, but later fail to achieve wider adoption. This is because mainstream consumers have different needs and motivations to early adopters. Hence the challenge in the years to come is to identify the EV products, technologies, and business models that will connect with mainstream needs and motivations.

These ‘Big Ideas’ will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of electric mobility.

The 74-page study analyses dozens of emerging EV innovation that include Wireless Charging, which is installed in Gumi, South Korea. In the city a seven-and-a-half mile stretch of inner-city road has been fitted with a wireless charging system to power an all-electric bus. The Online Electric Vehicle system (OLEV) consists of electrical cables buried under the road which create magnetic fields picked up by the bus and converted into electricity.

Software company Route Monkey, with prominent offices based in Gateshead, has developed a tool to help Fleet Managers use EVs for more cost-effective fleet management. The company’s sophisticated algorithm calculates the optimum deployment of EVs, helping Fleet Managers to define how EVs will best work for them and demonstrating the cost and emissions savings they can expect.

Hangzhou, China, is home to the world’s first EV vending machines. Kandi Machines are automated multi-storey vehicle garages and part of a city-wide car-sharing scheme that allows users to hire a fully-charged electric vehicle at the push of a button. Users can hire an ultracompact EV for around $3 an hour and drop it off at another Kandi station near their destination.

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