Innovations are underway in all fields of sustainable mobility. The diversified range of means of transport is increasing in many areas and linked to a more integrated development of the territory. It opens up possibilities of significant improvements in quality of life and environmental protection (reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and use of fossil fuels).
In this context, innovations of various kinds concerning the automobile are subject to debate but also considerable economic stakes.
For example, the electric car, or car with other renewables are products of an industrial chain whose economic impact on a territory can be crucial for its development. But if the electric car is announced as the car of tomorrow, there are still "obstacles" to overcome such as the charging time of batteries - not insignificant - or the installation of electrical plugs in parking lots or public places.
Another problem about which opponents to electric car were quick to denounce : the origin of electricity.
Very few countries have a supply of clean electricity, free of greenhouse gas emission. In many countries, coal plants are providing most of the electricity ...
In France, the electric car is on debate because of the nuclear origin of the electricity. If nuclear power emits little C02, some detractors never cease to recall its disadvantages (radioactive waste, accidents, etc..). For them, an electric car is not clean, unless the batteries are recharged with renewable energy, as it is the case in Clermont-Ferrand or Montmélian where a solar station operates the four electric vehicles of the City.
Selected quotes :
"Famous for its prospective essays, Jeremy Rifkin suggests reinvigorate the economy by taxing the cars driven by fuel cells. [...]
The bitter reality is that the sharp increase in oil demand internationally faces the problem of reserves and supplies increasingly limited and increasingly declining. The current problems of the auto industry are an early warning signal that should make us realize that we are nearing the end of the second industrial revolution.
Specifically, what can we do? We must seize this occasion as an opportunity and revive a global discussion on the auto industry as a whole. This involves moving the debate, from in extremis rescue interventions of internal combustion engine industry to research, development and implementation of electric to hydrogen vehicles, rechargeable, with batteries driven by a fuel cell powered by renewable energy sources. [...]
The transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to rechargeable fuel cell vehicules implies that we undertake a transformation on a comparable scale to adapt infrastructures to the third industrial revolution. Starting with the national energy grid and transmission lines, that will need to be transformed, and move from a management performed via centralized commands and controls to decentralized and computerized management.
Daimler has already signed a partnership agreement with RWE, a German energy supplier, and Toyota has done the same with EDF, the French electricity provider, to install millions of charging stations along highways, on car parks and garages, near shopping malls and residential complexes, so that new cars can recharge their batteries through a simple connection to an electrical outlet.
To accommodate millions of new vehicles in rechargeable battery, the electricity suppliers are beginning to modify their networks, using the same technologies that have been at the heart of the Internet revolution. The new power systems, these networks called intelligent or intergrid, will revolutionize the arrangements for delivery of electricity. It will be needed to modify or reconstruct millions of existing buildings - residential apartments, offices, factories - to make them capable of capturing the locally available renewable energy - solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and tidal power. They should thus be self-sufficient in electricity and share the excess energy through smart grids, as we now produce and share information through the Internet. [...]
The electricity we will produce in our homes from renewable energy can also be used to power electric cars and batteries to produce the hydrogen to power vehicles with fuel cell. The creation of new infrastructure necessary for the third industrial revolution will require an enormous effort and huge public and private investments - to the tune of a hundred billions dollars.
Opposite, the trillions of dollars with which one promises to revive the global economy are merely expedient. Achieving the infrastructure for the third industrial revolution will create millions of green jobs and cause a new technological revolution. Productivity will increase dramatically, new open source business models and a variety of new economic opportunities will appear.
Si les gouvernements n'interviennent pas tout de suite avec une grande détermination pour accélérer la réalisation de ces nouvelles infrastructures, les dépenses publiques visant à soutenir un modèle industriel obsolète vont puiser dans des ressources financières déjà fragiles. Nous risquons alors de nous priver des moyens de réaliser les changements fondamentaux nécessaires. »
If governments do not intervene immediately with great determination in accelerating the implementation of these new infrastructure, public spending to support an obsolete industrial model will draw on already fragile financial resources. We may then deprive us of the means of achieving the necessary fundamental changes. "
Jeremy Rifkin in L'Espresso, article published in Courrier International
Beyond the automakers, there are manufacturers and industries such as GE, GDF-Suez, EDF ... who position themselves very clearly in the market for electric cars and communicate with great details in this direction. For instance, see the interview with Olivier Cormier, Director Projects Development for GE Corporate France, for the site of Avere France.
What do you think are the main obstacles to electric mobility and how to overcome them?
"The high cost of batteries is now the main obstacle to the emergence of the electric vehicle market. However, we can be confident that we will get lower costs and higher yields in the coming years. Autonomy is also a major concern, which can be overcome if the electric vehicle is placed where the mobility uses are compatible. PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) also get over the difficulty. Finally, the development of charging infrastructure in public and businesses places is a necessary condition for mass adoption of electric vehicles by individuals. "
Do you think electric mobility will be the high point of your communication of tomorrow?
"Electric mobility is obviously a cornerstone of our communication when we promote new mobility solutions for our customers. It is, of course, because of environmental issues, but mostly - and it's my belief - because it forces us to change our business models and to invent tomorrow's mobility services. "
Can you describe your vision of the future of mobility?
"It is a mobility not centered on the vehicle but on uses. The mobility of the future will address a need to move one person, using the most appropriate mean: the most efficient, the less polluting and the cheapest. Electric vehicle, hybrid bikes, public transit, rail networks and other tools will be complementary to be adapted to everybody's mobility. "
Meanwhile, the American research institute MIT stressed the fact that we are facing a two-speed chain. The innovations on electric vehicles (including batteries, major source of autonomy problem) are well above the processing capacity of infrastructure and especially of public policies needed for a widespread implementation of this mode of transportation.
So what are the possibilities for private cars to move towards solutions that consume less energy, and taking into account the entire chain (from policy making, to infrastructure system and to power generation upstream of the consumption of the vehicle)?
How to reconcile the requirement to move towards more sustainable transport modes and lobbies of existing automakers and industries?
Are solutions currently tested such as car sharing (for instance, autolib in Paris) the precursors of major patterns changes and an influx of hybrid or all electric vehicles on the market of private cars ?
Many events are now organized to test and develop innovations on the new energy vehicles (hydrogen, bio diesel, electric, CNG, hybrid, LPG, E85 ...) as the Monte Carlo Rally Electric and New Energies.
What are the impacts of these events on the revolution needed for an extensive implementation of these vehicles?