You may never own an electric car, but in a few years you may ride in one every day.
Many drivers are still dubious about today’s electric cars’ range and performance, while up-front prices remain higher than the average gas-powered vehicle. But those things are changing.
In fact, Bill Fox, director of the Boyd Center for Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, believes that not only improvements in electric car technology but related development of autonomous vehicles and connectivity will change almost everything about transportation.
He thinks companies such as Uber, Waymo or General Motors will own large fleets of autonomous, interlinked electric cars, on which people can buy time. Since most people are in a vehicle only a fraction of a day, some of those cars can be charging at central stations while others are in use.
“The notion of ‘I need to get my car home and plug it in the garage’ is going to be irrelevant,” Fox said.
A shared network of available vehicles will make public charging infrastructure less important too, he said. That’s without even counting ideas like technology to charge vehicles on the go.
“Ultimately, it probably won’t look anything like we think of it today, and certainly it won’t involve having to plug in,” Fox said.
Moving from individually driven vehicles to sharing a centrally managed fleet will bring “massive” societal changes, as much as the invention of automobiles did, he said. Fleet ownership means fewer vehicles will be needed overall.
“People may ride more, but the cars will be used more intensively,” Fox said. And abandoning personal vehicles means the 15 to 20 percent of cities now used for parking will be freed up for other use, he said.