Game Changers 2020 Essay Series: Mobility Trends Improving the Quality of Life for All

Mobility Trends Improving the Quality of Life for All

Pasquale Romano, President & CEO, ChargePoint

Improving the quality of life and reducing the cost of living is an oft missed side effect of the pursuit of autonomous drive, clean inexpensive energy, and the electrification of transportation. These technology arcs are evolving roughly in parallel and their confluence will result in dramatic changes in how we live, the cost of things we depend on, and the amount of time we will get back daily.

One of the largest monthly expenses for families is transportation. The lower a family’s income, the larger the impact. Add energy bills to the equation and the impact is even more significant.

Fossil fuels make up all the energy used to transport goods and people and transportation electrification represents a net new load on our electrical grid. While other sources of energy consumption in homes and offices will become more efficient, the electrification of transportation will outpace those savings and dramatically increase electricity needs. The key to offsetting this shift is the fact that the overwhelming majority of vehicles sit resting most of the time. As a result, vehicles can flexibly take on electricity as fuel, filling in the peaks and valleys of today’s energy patterns, increasing the utilization of grid infrastructure (with some upgrades), and enabling the reduction of the cost structure of delivered energy. Electrified transport also represents an  opportunity  to reduce costs when compared to the average cost of gasoline and energy bills, not to mention the dramatically lower maintenance costs of EVs. Transportation and energy are also significant cost components in most goods. If we can reduce logistics costs with electrified transport, everything we buy gets cheaper,  enabling people to use more of their household income for other things.

What drives a lot of the variance in real estate costs is scarcity imposed by a consumer’s desire to live near jobs to avoid lengthy and costly commutes. If more rides shift to autonomous drive services, fixed costs of ownership will be eliminated, less vehicles will be needed, efficiency will increase and congestion will be dramatically reduced. As autonomous transportation becomes more cost effective, real estate as we know it will be transformed. Space dedicated to parking gets recycled, vehicle coordination improves, vehicles required during rush hour decrease resulting in significantly more options for where we can live relative to where we work and correspondingly result in a drop in housing prices.

People can’t buy more hours in a day no matter how wealthy they are. Imagine if commuting actually meant less stress? Instead of a car, a pod resembling a comfortable camper picked you up, stocked with your favorite coffee and snacks Inside, you can read, work, listen to your music or whatever makes you happy and more productive as opposed to worrying about traffic or only focusing on driving. Flying from the airport to a downtown meeting or making the trip between San Jose and San Francisco in an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft is no longer a dream, but a reality. Aircraft in design now will enable travel at prices on par with ride hailing services today.

We’re entering a magical time in human history. Technology will open the door to more places to live, make the time being transported more enjoyable, lower costs for basic necessities, and improve the overall quality of our lives. Electric mobility is economically superior and has the added benefit of reducing the harmful effects on the very planet we depend on.

September 20, 2019