It is a question of when, not if, we move away from using petrol and diesel. These fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas in the planet’s atmosphere, and almost all climate change scientists agree that these energy sources have accelerated the rate of rising temperatures globally.
Given the growing concerns about environmental issues and the consequential governmental regulations imposed upon manufacturers, the automotive industry has been forced to respond quickly. The future of driving is beginning to take shape as the sector acts to reduce emissions.
People aren’t prepared to abandon cars because of the independence and ease of movement that automobiles offer—but the popularity of car subscription services, such as Zipcar, demonstrates that vehicle ownership isn’t as important as the option of having quick and convenient access to a car.
In the future, automotive technology will have to adapt to address the environmental impact of driving and become increasingly sustainable. At the heart of this issue is the question of what the cars of the future will drive on—will internal combustion engines be a thing of the past? More cars are running on electricity these days, but what about hydrogen?
It is likely that for shorter day-to-day journeys, cars will drive on electricity, which will be more readily available through renewable sources and is therefore a cleaner option. However, when it comes to long distance trips, the combustion engine might still be necessary; this is because of the distance range of electric cars. While some electric vehicles (e.g. Tesla) have a range of over 300 miles and can be recharged to 80% in 15 minutes with superchargers, these cars still uncommon, particularly in the UK and EU.
Many of the past issues with electric vehicles, such as concerns about their road performance, will continue to be improved. In a PwC report, “Five Trends Transforming the Automotive Industry”, it’s predicted that over 55% of all new car sales could be fully electrified by 2030. In fact, the new Tesla Model 3 has outsold all car models within the same class in the US this year.
There is also a lot of discussion around the hydrogen-powered automobile, where hydrogen is converted into electricity to drive the car. The issue of where hydrogen can be sourced from is still a challenge to overcome before this option is viable.
Car manufacturers are already investing in electric vehicles: this month, it was announced that Jaguar Land Rover has teamed up with BMW to develop electric drive units (EDUs) and advance the technology that will push the industry forward for the next generation while sharing the costs. In January of this year, Ford and Volkswagen announced a similar agreement to pool their resources and mitigate research and development costs. Large original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are also investing in smaller electric vehicle manufacturers, such as Ford, which has invested $500m in Rivian. Accelerating the developments necessary to make the transition to electrified cars will see further collaborative efforts between car makers down the line.
In the meanwhile, there needs to be further consumer education about what they should expect from these vehicles. Mini USA recently conducted a survey to identify what drivers wanted in an electric car and they discovered that many customers were confused about the basic facts of electric vehicles, especially when it comes to the distance between battery charges. According to the findings, customers viewed electric vehicles as solutions for short, quick journeys in a city.
Driving range is often stated as the most prohibitive factor for individuals considering purchasing an electric vehicle, yet over 73% of the people surveyed by Mini USA (out of 1,004 adults) confirmed that 75 miles (121 km) on a single charge would be adequate for their daily needs. Ironically, this driving range is low compared with many of today’s driving options, including the Tesla Model 3 (220 miles/ 354 km per charge).
Other concerns raised in the survey included respondents being unable to identify locations of charging stations and how long it took to charge a vehicle.
So while the next generation of electric cars are developed and investment into renewable energy is increased, it’s the ideal time to educate the customer about electrified cars and what the future of driving will look like—and how these advancements in technology will mitigate the impact of fossil fuels and emissions on the planet.
All of this progress is currently having a significant impact on recruitment in the automotive industry. The demand for system and software engineers—not only in electrification, but also advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving systems (AD)—is booming. Companies are also building large teams quickly, beginning with leadership roles.
If you’re involved in the development of advanced systems within this field and are interested in making your next career move, contact me to see what vacancies we have available.
Telegraph | Jaguar Land Rover teams up with BMW to develop electric vehicles
PwC | Trends transforming the automotive industry
BBC | What will we be driving in 2050
Forbes | Mini Believes Education Is Vital For The Future Of Electric Cars