Over the past few weeks, four significant developments have emerged out of the electric car universe, developments that could forever change how you and me stay mobile. These individual developments, taken as a whole, have the potential to move the world of personal vehicles towards the inflection point where personal mobility intersects with electric car technology. Here’s a quick wrap.
1. Google’s autonomous (self driving) car project has now reached a critical mass, with a real world prototype all set to start street testing next year.
2. Tesla has upgraded the Roadster electric car to deliver a whopping 400 mile/640 kilometer range, in what is one of the most significant upgrade in the electric car universe.
3. Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has suggested that the next-generation Leaf could pack in a near 250 mile/400 kilometer range per charge
4. Volkswagen has acquired a small but significant stake in QuantumScape Corp, a silicon valley based start up whose aim is to design and build solid-electrolyte batteries that triple the range of electric cars.
Of these four developments, the most significant ones that will dramatically change how the vehicle buying world will look at electric vehicles are those of the range improvements. With both Tesla and Nissan seeking to deliver big electric car range in vehicles such as the Roadster and Leaf respectively, electric cars have taken the giant leap towards becoming mainstream. That an electric car can deliver the same kind of range a car powered by an internal combustion engine delivers makes it more viable than ever before. Now with charge times also reducing, the electric car becoming a practical option for car buyers is not very far off.
Volkswagen is hell bent on becoming the world’s number 1 car maker. That the German automaking behemoth is looking very seriously at electric car technology – a fact borne out by the 5 % stake acquisition in QuantumScape – gives the world an idea of the shape of things to come in the electric car world. Volkswagen has just introduced the electric variant of the Golf even as group company Audi is aiming big with the e-Tron range. If a market leaders such as Volkswagen bets big on electric cars, mass market automakers are very likely to follow. India’s very own leading electric car maker, Mahindra Reva, will be watching the unfolding events very closely.
Many early adopters of electric cars have often complained about an appliance feel that an electric car delivers, what with its turbine like surge of smooth torque across the acceleration cycle. While companies such as Tesla and Audi are focusing on high performance electric cars, the ones aiming for the mass market are looking at electric cars as means of getting from point A to B with the least amount of effort, emissions and expense. As electric cars become more appliance like, autonomy is but natural. Technology giant Google – who has many disruptive innovations to its credit – is at the forefront of autonomous electric car technology. Google’s self driving car prototype is now ready and the tech giant – whose CEO has famously remarked that “driving cars is a waste of time” – could put the world on the fast lane to autonomous, electric cars.