Going electric

Nearly three months ago, I made a major change: I bought an electric car. Not a hybrid, but a fully electric vehicle without an internal combustion engine and therefore without any fuel tank. In some ways the change might not seem massive. I still put my foot on the accelerator pedal to get moving, or on the brake to stop. The steering wheel moves the car to the left or to the right. I indicate when I intend to turn. And so forth.

And yet, this is a fundamentally different experience. The car moves more or less noiselessly. It is heavily computerised, and almost every control is operated not by a lever or button, but on the touchscreen. You ignore filling stations, but spend some time planning your journey (if it’s a longer one) so that you know where you will charge the car. It feels like being part of something quite revolutionary, even when so much of it is the same.

And yet, is this the future, or just a staging post to the real thing? Will we soon be in an era in which we won’t drive our own cars at all any more, but call an autonomous self-driving vehicle that takes us where we want to go and then moves off somewhere else? Or indeed will we still take it for granted at all that we can travel at will from A to B?

Transport habits can change at a certain tipping point with extraordinary speed. In this image you can see New York’s 5th Avenue in 1900 and 1913. In these 13 years the traffic changed from almost entirely horse-drawn to entirely motorised. What will happen between 2018 and 2030 is not at all clear, but there is every likelihood of fundamental change; and there should be, not least because we need to stop urban air pollution.

So maybe I am taking part in something important. Or maybe it is just a very minor step towards something that will, in a short space of time, be quite different. We’ll see.

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One Comment on “Going electric”

  1. Vince Says:

    I know you were an early adopter of Apple stuff and see this as a logical extension.
    On the whole I think electric cars will become a profound feature. I think we’ll see them lighter and easier to charge. But I also think we’ll see a logical extension of UBER to make proper use of cars. So if you drive in for 7am, the car heads out to meet another person coming in for 9, out again for someone coming in for 10:30 and the process reversed in the PM.
    I think this shared ownership will make real sense with semi independent autos for it would maximise the use on the investment. And since the argument about wear and tear is vastly lessened on the Electric Cars but they will age out of the current technology in a couple of years.

    And mazel tov on the new driver.


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