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Is the near future electric?

Urban emission zones, initially aimed at banning older diesel vehicles, will culminate in zero emission zones and city centres restricted to EVs only

Drivers to EV adoption will shift from consumer-ownership to shared urban mobility
Drivers to EV adoption will shift from consumer-ownership to shared urban mobility

Electric vehicle mileage share will exceed 20 per cent by 2030 but urban charging and grid challenges still need to be confronted, according to a new report by advisory firm ABI Research.


While consumer adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) continues to disappoint, with only two per cent of all vehicles shipping in 2018 expected to be electric, city governments are increasingly becoming aware of their benefits in terms of sustainability, reduced environmental impact, and improved air quality, says the report.


The Smart Cities and Transportation Electrification report also finds that the widespread introduction of urban emission zones, initially aimed at banning older diesel vehicles, will culminate in zero emission zones and city centres restricted to EVs only.


“However, vehicle electrification adoption drivers will increasingly shift from consumer-ownership to shared urban mobility, initially ride-sharing followed by driverless EV car sharing in the longer term,” said Dominique Bonte, vice president end markets at ABI Research.


She added: “The state of California is preparing a bill which would mandate 20 per cent of miles travelled via ride-hailing services to be in EVs by 2023, rising to 50 per cent by 2026. At the same time, Uber’s EV Champions programme proactively pushes ride-sharing electrification through education, support, and cash incentives for driver-partners.


“The combined effect of the proportionally higher uptake of EVs in car-sharing fleets and their much higher utilisation rates will result in global electric mileage share to exceed 20 per cent by 2030.”


This shift to electric mobility services has important consequences for both charging station and grid infrastructure requirements. ABI points out that the business imperative of continuous operation and availability from both a profitability and customer experience perspective will drive the need for a granular network of both DC fast charging and future wireless public charging stations.


The study finds that with accelerating EV penetration, increasing stress on public grids will have to be mitigated by advanced demand-response and load balancing software solutions, EV charging management and vehicle-to-grid systems, widespread adoption of microgrids, and a more holistic, cross-vertical approach to energy management.


Suppliers active in this space include Hevo Power, eMotorWerks, Greenlots, Nuvve, Jedlix, MOEV, and FleetCarma, recently acquired by Geotab. Ultimately, the transportation electrification revolution will require a fundamental redesign of the grid itself, tailored to accommodate distributed and decentralised modes of renewable energy consumption and generation in urban contexts.


Finally, the report predicts that smart cities transportation electrification will be multimodal, with EVs complemented by electric 2-wheel vehicles (bikes, scooters, and motorbikes), shuttles, boats, and future passenger carrying drones. “Clearly, the dominance of car-based mobility is not sustainable,” said ABI. “Uber’s recent investment in and partnership with Lime on electric scooter sharing and Lyft’s strategy to integrate bike and scooter sharing shows the urban mobility landscape is yet again being reshaped.”


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