It’s an industrial complex so big and so pervasive that it’s difficult to see it. Motordom.
But technological convergence in motordom is upon us, and the changes are likely to be as inevitable as they are profound. People everywhere are prognosticating, planning, buying, selling, investing and teaming up in anticipation. Something big is underway, and it involves more than engines.
But what will happen in motordom? Prediction is always hard (if not impossible), but especially in times of disruptive tech change. Attributed to Niels Bohr and Yogi Berra: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future”. The best that we mortals might do is to track those who are creating the future.
HERE‘s a broad and long view from the Economist, from the starting point of the internal combustion engine, and it’s likely replacement by the electric engine.
To gauge what lies ahead, think how the internal combustion engine has shaped modern life. The rich world was rebuilt for motor vehicles, with huge investments in road networks and the invention of suburbia, along with shopping malls and drive-through restaurants. Roughly 85% of American workers commute by car. . . .
. . . Assuming, of course, that people want to own cars at all. Electric propulsion, along with ride-hailing and self-driving technology, could mean that ownership is largely replaced by “transport as a service”, in which fleets of cars offer rides on demand. On the most extreme estimates, that could shrink the industry by as much as 90%.
. . . Driverless electric cars in the 21st century are likely to improve the world in profound and unexpected ways, just as vehicles powered by internal combustion engines did in the 20th. But it will be a bumpy road. Buckle up.
And then there’s THIS, from the CEO of that insignificant fringe player in motordom — Royal Dutch Shell plc. Thanks to Joe Romm at ThinkProgress.
“The next buy I do is my next car, which will be an electric vehicle,” was Van Beurden’s surprise answer. Shell is Europe’s biggest oil company — indeed, its biggest company of any kind — with $272 billion in revenues last year. . .
In a March speech, Van Beurden said the transition to a low-carbon economy built around renewable electricity and electric cars is “unstoppable.” That month, Shell sold off 90 percent of its Canadian tar sands assets, and in May it launched a new business unit focused on renewables.