There is no technology trend stronger than the shift away from bio fuels to electrically driven vehicles. Companies across the world are racing rapidly to make the electric dream a reality.
Mega battery plants are being built. Alternate methods to generate electricity – wind and solar are attracting billions of dollars. Battery technology research is at its peak, to consistently improve capacity yet reduce cost. In 3-5 years, the equation of battery capacity and cost will start comparing with ICEs. Coupled with the fact that it costs only a fraction of fuel cost to operate a electrically driven vehicle, we can safely assume that we are close to hitting an inflexion point in EVs.
Search for alternate and clean technology for electric production and storage would continue unabated, driving costs down and capacity higher.
Electric vehicles are also likely to be more reliable and require less maintenance. An EV would require fewer mechanical parts and do away with the messy bits. This would further reduce cost of ownership and roadside breakdowns.
But to make it a reality an entire ecosystem of fuel generation to distribution to charging points to battery technology and manufacturing has to come up in a short span of time to replace the vast infrastructure built by the petroleum economy. Installing the alternate infrastructure required to propel the electric economy would create large business opportunity for many future entrepreneurs. From manufacturing of batteries, motors, vehicles, charging stations…to service providers to distribute, service and enable electricity.
However, electric vehicles would pose questions of their own.
Is the alternate energy source used to generate electricity clean compared to fuel? Coal based power is likely to just shift pollutants form one location to another.
What waste disposal threat would batteries pose in the future?
Are the electric grids ready to bear the additional surge in demand from millions of electric vehicles, most of which are likely to plug in at night?
How fast would charging be and for how long?
Petrol economy sustains millions of jobs. What will happen to these jobs?
What are the hazards of an EV in a mishap? How do we make them safe?
All these questions and more would mean more frequent policy changes, and their implementation a lot more ruthless, leading to constant and rapid adaptation of products and services. Being on the right side of law with these rapid changes would provide opportunity for automated legal services.
Push towards electric vehicles is likely to be the most significant technological shift, since the emergence of the Internet in the early 90s. Over the next few months we will bring perspective and development on each of the above areas.
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