Hoorn, The Netherlands on a sunny day. Without these ugly parked cars, the 17th century idyll would be restored.
UK consultancy firm Rethinkx has no doubts: the car society as we know it, will be history much sooner than you think. Key word: self-driving car. Once governments begin to allow these essentially driver-less taxis on its roads, the death warrant for the global car industry will be sealed. Why? Because this development would eliminate the need for expensive car ownership completely.
A privately owned car in Western Europe is not used for perhaps 95% of the time (Netherlands: 12,000 km/year, average speed 60 kmh or 200 hours = 5% of a year). Instead the car could be driving during those idle hours, making money in the process and help earning itself back much, much quicker. That’s how every bus, train or aviation company thinks. So why not you, dear mr Joe Sixpack? Because the opportunity to do so is around the corner.
Within a decade or two, technology, infrastructure and government regulation will exist that will enable you to travel the same distances, without actually owning the vehicle. Instead you will order a vehicle with your smart phone and after some time, a taxi will stop in front of your house, but without the taxi driver. And dependent on how much money you are willing/able to pay, you will drive away in a vehicle that is something between a small bus you have to share with others, like in the video below, or a luxury car you will have all for yourself.
Driverless bus in Sion, Switzerland
Take-away points from the study as summarized by Reneweconomy:
Student of the University of Technology Eindhoven (TUE) in the Netherlands, developed an electric car with an efficiency of 500 km per liter gasoline equivalent on the occasion of the upcoming Shell Eco Marathon. Weight 200 kg and with maximum speed of 60 kmh intended for city use. Batteries 12 kg, range 90 km. Motor in wheel.
Youtube text: Published on Oct 19, 2013 – Lightweight and highly efficient all-in-one design pedal assist that fits on practically any bicycle. Move through busy city streets in no time and spare your energy with the help of Smart Wheel, a pedal assist that encases an ultra-thin electric motor and intelligent electronics within a robust housing, neatly fitted onto the spokes of a bicycle rim. It fits practically any bicycle frame and helps you use your bike more efficiently and comfortably, when and where you need it.
According to a recent Shell energy scenario study [pdf] solar will be the dominant source of energy in 2070. Another expectation is that passenger vehicles will be nearly oil-free by that time as well and could be replaced by a hydrogen infrastructure and electricity.