Too many U.S. states, and their electric utilities, think electric vehicles are linked to urgent action on climate change. They see EVs as an environmental solution to a problem that has yet to gain political consensus, at least in the U.S.
But they’re wrong: Electric vehicles, like the rest of the products emerging from what I and other economists call the green economic revolution, will win mass-market adoption because they cost less. And that day is fast arriving.
Electric vehicles anchor a critical mass of technologies poised to slash transportation costs through a new business model often called mobility as a service, or MaaS.
Some posit that MaaS will win price-competitive advantage by:
- Displacing fossil fuels with lower-cost renewable electricity
- Reducing vehicle maintenance costs by displacing mechanical systems with electronics
- Reducing labor with autonomous vehicles
- Lowering consumer costs with digitally-purchased, incremental mobility services compared to vehicle ownership
Recent estimates project that MaaS will be four to 10 times cheaper than owning a car in less than 15 years. The average American household is projected to save $5,600 annually. Such a massive cut could potentially drive our national economy to a 3 percent annual growth rate.
Vehicles designed as consumer devices
MaaS innovators are not focused on improving existing car design. Instead they seek to design vehicles as consumer electronics. These five technologies will drive the redesign of vehicles into consumer electronic devices:
- 5G: 5G is the next wave of mobile connectivity. It has gigabyte speeds and bandwidth compared to today’s 4G speeds. As early as 2018, MaaS will use 5G to create real-time convenience and efficiency between smart, autonomous vehicles and consumers.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is the autonomous electric vehicle’s operating system and “steering wheel.” It will autonomously steer electric vehicles from customer to customer and curb to curb. It will optimize for safety, on-time performance and lowest cost.
- Digital commerce: Car loans will be displaced by cheaper, easier and more convenient digital payment for incremental mobility service. Think of Uber-like services supplying whatever you need (drones, SUVs, pick-up trucks or non-emergency medical vehicles). through a digital payment system accessed through a smart phone or wearable device.
- Renewable electricity: Renewable electricity will fuel vehicles designed as consumer devices. Electricity is the preferred energy for consumer electronic, and renewables will eventually take over as they become cheaper than fossil fuels or fossil-derived electricity.
- Batteries: Batteries are on a downward cost curve driven by innovation and manufacturing economies of scale. Battery costs have already fallen by 75 percent and are projected to win another 75 percent cost decline by 2030. Battery range is being extended even as costs decline. And this month a company claimed its new-generation battery technology put up a 300-mile driving range with five-minute recharging times.
Read more: Triple Pundit