The road transport as we know of today will be reshaped dramatically over the coming decades with the current advancements in automated driving, and innovations in shared mobility or car sharing. This change is mainly fueled by the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and followed by the electrification of the transportation system. Shared vehicles have heavier usage patterns, and IC engine vehicles have higher running costs. On the contrary, autonomous EVs are cheaper to operate due to overall lower running costs. The purpose of this article is to investigate the future of shared mobility with EVs and automated vehicles.
Shared Electric Vehicles (EVs)
Car sharing emerged in the early 2000s in some major cities of the world, and it allowed people to borrow cars on a short-term basis. But the idea caught up among the younger generation because of their higher rates of utilization and short distance trips, and this made them a better option than privately owned vehicles. The lower running costs of EVs make them an ideal fit for carsharing services and helps to offset their high initial purchasing cost. However, their longer charging times, limited driving range, and access to fast-charging stations presents challenges.
Car sharing services operate in one of the two ways: free-floating systems or hub/depot systems. In the former, cars are parked anywhere; while in the latter, they must be parked in a designated parking spot(s) in your area. Currently, the free-floating systems can bring operational challenges for EVs because of the limited number of public fast-charging facilities. But this is changing fast in European countries and Asian countries like China. This limitation can also be overcome by the introduction of long-lasting battery packs. So, in the present time, hub/depot is a better choice for EV car-sharing services.
Autonomous Electric Vehicles (EVs)
The advancements in AI, sensor, and connectivity technologies can bring fully automated vehicles sooner to the market than previously thought. One of the leaders in this segment is Waymo, and Tesla is making strides in their autonomous driving technology with each software update in their cars. Autonomous vehicles are an ideal fit for shared mobility because they can operate in fleets. Not only that, autonomous driving technology can be easily integrated into EVs as they have fewer moving parts and uses drive by wire technology. A well-coordinated fleet of autonomous EVs can easily overcome the issue of limited availability of fast-charging stations. Also, it might be able to increase the overall range of the entire fleet and improve charging time management.
These are some advancements that automated vehicles and EVs can bring into car sharing services.