Today’s my first entry for this blog in English. My previous entries have been with the objective of sharing my views and all the awesome things happening in the sustainability, energy and innovation space. They’ve been in Spanish as the audience I’ve been writing for are friends, family, acquaintances, other people in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, not necessarily the people already involved in the space. Today, however, I’d like to write to a broader audience as something incredible is happening and I feel the urge to talk about it.
My previous entry back in March was about how EVs should be thought of as a thing of the ‘now’ and tried to address some of the misconceptions around them. I talked about how the cost of the batteries was coming down, about some popular models which would be available in the Mexican market, and everything about how cool this EV revolution would be. Back then, just before the Tesla 3 announcement, my evidence was mostly based on historic trends, forecasts and company goals. I wrote about it relying on my faith of how soon this would come and change our lives.
Well, a lot has happened in six months…
It really struck me last week, with a Financial Times headline that read «Ford warns tech push will hit profits». That’s a bit of a boring headline tbh (the second subheading tells the more exciting story – i’ll get to that later) but it emphasizes what I’ll call the ‘The Manufacturers’ FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)’. Something incredible is happening and these guys don’t want to miss out on it. The EV revolution is happening more fast-paced than what I and many other optimists like me expected, and I’ll put it into context through three simple elements: Ford, China and Everyone, all somehow related.
The FT note
The note came from the Companies & Markets section, stating how Ford had warned profits «would fall next year as they ramp up investments in new technologies». After tossing a lot of numbers on amounts, years and percentages it read that it was due to Ford’s heavily investment in electrification of vehicles, autonomous cars and other forms of new mobility. They plan to introduce 13 electric vehicles – WOOOOW – into their line-up by 2020, forming the sub-headline which I was mostly interested about: «Electric cars expected to be 40% of line-up by 2020». 40%!!!!!!!! Pardon me for being a geek, but THAT made my day that week. If that’s not enough, they followed with how they want to be leaders in autonomous vehicles, saying it could account for up to «20% of its sales by the end of the next decade». Can you believe that? They’re even totally rethinking their business models and shifting their thoughts from selling «things» into usage (ride-sharing fleets to be explicit). Watch out Uber and Google, Detroit strikes back!…
China is thinking of imposing a quota which would require automakers to produce or import new-energy (electric, hydrogen and the such) vehicles as a proportion of the vehicles they sell. If you are looking for a number, China wants these to be sold at a rate of 3 million – again WOOOW – per year (BNEF). It seems like a simple idea, but it’s incredibly intelligent: by setting that quota they fuel their industrial economy, create technology advancements which put them in the lead globally and it gives them chance to enhance the air quality in their cities. Smart? If you think that’s hard to do, you should know they have over 200 companies/start-ups – 200!– developing electric vehicles and which are backed by several billionaires. As a matter of fact, the issue is so out of hand that China is considering restricting the number of EV makers to ten (you can read more about it here); this, to push for quality and protect the development of the industry. Not a fan of putting barriers to innovation but hey, if it works…5 year plans to go please!
Remember when you used to think of EVs and Tesla would be the one to come to mind? Well, not as simple anymore. EVERYONE, has their minds on future vehicles now. From new carmakers to old carmakers, to service platforms, to tech companies, to countries, to electricity system operators, to brothers (yes,.. brothers) are all thinking on future vehicles. Take a look at the Kreisel Bros: three brothers in Austria with a workshop developing electric-powered prototypes (land, air AND sea). The Kreisel brothers even manufacture their own battery pack, talk about these guys elbowing with Tesla! They have Austria’s first lithium-ion battery assembly plant and they’ve collaborated with partners such as VW, Audi, Airbus and Google, recently acquiring a contract under which they will build 100,000 cars over the next two years (read here). And it’s not just the electrification, it’s the greatest tech revolution in vehicles since they first began to be manufactured. As an example just this month, Uber began its trial on autonomous vehicles. They plan to ultimately replace drivers with autonomous vehicles and have taken a slightly different route than others by developing a device, and not the vehicles themselves, that is actually fitted into these. So like I said, everybody is working on the vehicle of the future. Like the saying «two heads think better than one», no bad thing can come from so much attention being focused on delivering the mobility solution of the next decade. Hopefully you can now see why manufacturers are having that ‘FOMO’, I hope I can come back again in 6 months and repeat the words «a lot has happened in six months..«.