The zero-emissions smart car is on the cusp of revolutionizing what we drive, how we drive and how we pay for mobility. Three disruptive technologies (electric batteries, autonomous driving and connectivity) are enabling companies like Google, GM and Lyft to rethink the design and commercialization of the automobile.
These companies envision a global market for zero-emission smart cars that solve the congestion and pollution impacts in a world now defined by urbanization and mega-cities. As outlined in the first of this three-part series, the zero-emission smart car is an elegant economic solution that will use existing urban infrastructure to reduce, or even eliminate, congestion and deadly air pollution.
Renewable electricity generation is the ancillary step for delivering cleaner and price-competitive electric cars. Recent bids into utility RFPs are documenting solar and wind as being at least price competitive, if not lower than, fossil fuel generation prices. The most disruptive trend is the emergence of homeowners installing solar systems that are paid for through utility bill savings. An increasing number of these solar homeowners are using their utility bill savings to lease an electric commuter car that they fuel for “free” from their solar system.
This vision is actually being pursued in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bay Area cities and government agencies are beginning to work together on “default-to-green” solutions to traffic congestion and air pollution created by the daily urban commute. Embolden by the technology capabilities of the region’s high tech companies they are envisioning a transportation system that delivers real time, just in time, mobility as a service. This service would be sourced through smartphones and would optimize individual mobility service from a full range of transportation and cost options that will include autonomously driven electric cars, low emissions buses of various sizes and light rail. The idea is that commuters could stop driving to work and instead schedule their commute through their smart phone with the default to green smart system delivering mobility solutions optimized for cost, convenience and reduced emissions.
This article is sourced from my participation at the Looking Further With Ford event held at the 2016 North American Auto Show. The third article in this series will detail how zero-emissions smart cars will change how we think about cars, how we drive and how we live.
Image courtesy of Chevrolet
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