More electric vehicles (EV’s) are replacing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles every day and virtually every major auto manufacturer has announced a switch to an all-electric line of vehicles in the near future. How will this impact our lives and communities?
Fewer gas stationsAs you’ve probably already noticed, there are no new gas stations being built in Central Oregon. In fact, we’ve lost some. The national trend shows a dramatic drop in the number of operating gas stations. According to a report from the National Association of Convenience Stores, the number of retail fueling sites in the U.S. fell nearly 50% from 203,000 to 111,000 between 1994 and 2016. Electric vehicles didn’t cause the initial decline, more fuel-efficient cars and hybrids started the trend. Electric vehicles will increase the slope of the decline and combustion engine car’s eventual demise.
We’re frugal in the USA, especially in Central Oregon. The typical car is driven for about 11 years. With the massive swap over to electric vehicles occurring now by buyers and auto companies, that means by 2030, most ICE cars will disappear from our roads followed by most gas stations. They’ll be replaced by charging stations in parking lots of businesses, hotels and other destination spots for longer commutes and quick charge-ups for local commutes.
Overnight charging at homeCharging stations are needed, but not for most daily commutes. People only drive an average of between 39 and 42 miles per day (depending on the study). For electric vehicle owners, an overnight charge at home easily covers the daily commute.
Imagine having a gas pump at your house and never needing to visit a gas station. That’s what electric vehicles owners essentially have. Home chargers, such as Tesla’s, provide an average of 44 miles of charge per hour. Charging for eight hours overnight provides about 352 miles of range available per day (but limited by the car’s total charge capacity), which means the average electric vehicles owner never needs to visit a charging station except for the occasional vacation or soccer tournament trip over the Cascades.
Less pollutionNeedless to say, electric vehicles don’t pollute. Central Oregon will eventually have cleaner air thanks to the death of ICE vehicles. We’ll be able to smell the hops cooking at our local breweries and the hint of smoke from distant fires, but not the noxious fumes from hundreds and thousands of tailpipes.
Renewable energy, such as solar, wind, wave and hydropower, are rapidly replacing coal, oil and nuclear power stations. “Clean coal” is a marketing myth and “clean nuclear” isn’t on the horizon yet. The air quality we enjoyed worldwide due to the COVID-19 shutdown, and subsequent precipitous drop from air-polluting traffic and dirty-energy generation, is the silver lining around dark clouds. Electric vehicles and renewable energy are two colliding innovation waves disrupting the century-old auto industry, much like autos did to the horse and buggy industry.
One overlooked pollution factor: Electric vehicles generate very little noise especially compared to combustion engine vehicles, reducing noise pollution. Although this has also been an issue with electric vehicles. As pedestrians, we need to retrain ourselves to visually inspect the roads in both directions as we won’t hear an electric vehicles travelling at us at 40 miles per hour. Luckily, electric vehicles like Tesla have robust collision avoidance technology built-in, but not quite 100% perfected. Stay frosty when walking and biking!
Optimizing road densityFully-connected vehicles are vehicles (such as FSD-enabled electric vehicles) outfitted with sensors and software communicating with other drivers, road signs and sensors, other vehicles, and the cloud. This combination of software and hardware technologies is collectively called vehicle-to-everything, or V2X.
V2X vehicles, such as FSD-enabled EVs, will allow for better traffic flow and use of roads. V2X vehicles can organize themselves in more efficient densities and communicate with each other to, for example, open a space for an V2X-connected car on a busy highway, moving from the far left lane through two lanes of connected vehicles, which make space for the car so it can maneuver to an exit lane on the far right. Long-haul V2X trucks can convoy together to optimize range by slipstreaming in a tighter configuration, yet yielding space when needed to other vehicles and then regrouping.
New car cabin designsFSD will alter the way autos are designed, changing the cabin into a leisure space with tables, power outlets, monitors and other conveniences to take advantage of commute times. Seats may be configured around a table instead of facing front. Consider it a living room or office on wheels.
Not your grandpa’s insuranceFSD will alter how insurance works, from the actuarial tables to determining who – or what – is at fault. If we’re depending on the vehicle to navigate and to avoid any accidents, then it is the auto manufacturer who is responsible for an accident, not the passenger. The industry has already accepted this reality. Auto manufacturers who have been testing autonomous vehicles, such as Mercedes-Benz, Google and Volvo, already accept liability if their FSD-enabled vehicles are found to be responsible for an accident. Tesla has anticipated accepting liability and foresees huge reductions in accidents from FSD vehicles. Hence Tesla is offering its own insurance based on millions of miles of real-time data with rates so low they are freaking out traditional insurance companies. Tesla’s insurance prices are based on overwhelming data-driven evidence that FSD-driven autos will dramatically decrease accidents, although several states have not yet approved Tesla’s insurance program, such as Oregon.
Saving livesSome shocking numbers: there are over 6,300,000 car crashes per year resulting in 2,500,000 injured and 37,000 deaths. Data from insurance companies and local government authorities confirm that up to 94% of all accidents are caused by human error, not the automobile. If a FSD vehicle could eliminate the 5,922,000 human-error caused accidents, imagine what your car insurance premium would be, or how much less health insurance would cost from 2,350,000 fewer injured patients. Most importantly, saving 34,780 lives. Sure, FSD-driven vehicles will have accidents as drivers and FSD-vehicles get used to sharing the road with each other and a rare software glitch may happen, but the end result is exponentially fewer accidents, injuries and deaths.
BottomlineElectric vehicles are rapidly killing dinosaur industries and redefining our driving experience and how we relate to our cars. Buckle up your seat belts, the future has arrived.