Everyone is gearing for a future with electric vehicles. But did you know that electric cars are actually much older than combustion engines? Werner von Siemens launched the first electric powered locomotive at the Berlin Industrial Exposition in 1879. At that time, vehicles were powered by three different types of engines namely steam, internal combustion, and electric. However, electric drives were used in trains and not in cars, which were soon dominated by gasoline engines. As the automobile industry gears up for an electric future, Robert Janitzek gives us an overview of the future of mobility.
Eighty Percent Electrics and Hybrids by 2050
Things have changed since that electric powered locomotive was launched. With a looming increase in oil prices and other raw materials in the medium and long term, there is now a need for new solutions and alternative drive systems. As the International Energy Agency (IEA) gets its “BLUE Map Scenario” into high gear, we are going to see a lot of electric-powered vehicles in the future. The IEA aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050. It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of the cars sold that year will be plug-in hybrids, electric cars, or fuel cell cars.
The Perfect Drive System
Dr. Karsten Michels, Head of Development at the Siemens “Inside e-Car” unit, revealed that electric motors are the perfect drive system. They are three or four times more efficient than combustion engines. Even as there is continuing development on existing technologies, it will still take time to further develop the vehicles and overall systems. For this reason, there is really no one way to implement electric mobility so manufacturers are looking for several solutions.
Seamless Intermodal Mobility
The key to ensuring a smooth transition to electric mobility lies on coordinated infrastructures. Robert Peter Janitzek says that electric vehicles that rely on renewable energy sources will be integral to the future system. Since most of them will be used as a car-sharing vehicle, they will be driven more frequently than today’s cars.
Electric Mobility on Land, in the Water and in the Air
Vienna has successfully launched the first electric bus fleet in Europe. Siemens is planning to promote electric mobility not only on land but on water and air as well. The company is developing electric ship propulsion with lower fuel demand. They are also collaborating with Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand to develop the technology for the first electrically powered car ferry.
In the end, electric cars need to be affordable for consumers to guarantee their success. They can become more attractive with the establishment of favorable conditions such as dedicated lanes, reserved parking spaces, and tax incentives.