There is a lot of focus on electromobility. The growth of Tesla and a large number of new models of electric cars, buses, and trucks from automotive incumbents get substantial coverage in the media. The same is true about the establishment of battery production plants and the expansion of charging infrastructure. We read that investment in charging infrastructure needs to increase. The number of installations made in each country needs to go up dramatically.
Few have noted that the share of electric cars is still very low in all countries and that a complete transformation to e-mobility will involve very large investment in many different areas that will create a wide range of opportunities for entrepreneurs to start new companies and for established companies to expand or develop new lines of business. The number of electric cars in the world is still below 20 million, amounting to less than 2 percent of all cars. In Europe only a few small countries, like Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and the Netherlands have more than 2 percent electric cars. Germany, the UK, France, Spain, Italy and other large countries still have less than 2 percent. In Norway there are 10 percent and in Sweden, the share is 5.
In the case of buses and trucks the transformation has almost not started. Several municipalities have started to change to electric buses for local transportation, but in the case of transport vehicles and trucks the share is well below 1 percent and in the case of heavy trucks leading companies have launched their first models in the past two or three years and the number of electric heavy trucks is still a few hundred.
In the area where the development has made the most progress, cars, the share globally is at 2 percent and in other areas the numbers stand well below 1 percent.
Still, the EU and national governments have set very ambitious goals, which means that the share of electric vehicles will have to increase dramatically over the next decade, starting immediately. And as the number of electric vehicles increases, the need for services for electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, expansion of power production, and electricity grids will increase dramatically. Investments will run up to many trillion dollars across the world. This will include all areas of electromobility from vehicles to charging, power production, grid technologies, training of professionals, and service development. In these areas demand is very low today, but the companies that have been started in these areas are very well positioned for rapid growth over the next few years. The need for products and services is by no means filled.
In the case of the Internet development a few of the global leaders, such as Amazon, were present early in the development, but many of the current incumbents have been founded at later stages once the development had gained speed and the demand for services became easier to identify. Google is one such example. At the beginning there were search engines like Alta Vista and Lycos. When Google entered the market, they rapidly took over and became the dominant player and developed a portfolio of services covering different user needs. Google simply was so much better than all the others that none of them could compete. The same is likely to happen in areas of e-mobility. Once the growth of electric vehicles starts to take off from the present initial phase, millions of drivers of electric cars, buses, and trucks will need to plan routes, find charging posts, administrate payments, and utilise other services that few have even started to think about. Some entrepreneurs of the future will come up with ideas that are much better than the present offerings, giving rise to companies that will make the present offerings irrelevant.
The EU has set the goal that the union will be fossil-free by 2045. The government of the UK has decided to ban the sales of petrol and diesel cars from 2030 and the Swedish government has decided that the country will be fossil-free by 2030. All of these are very ambitious goals, and they are not likely to be reached, but they indicate that the EU and individual countries plan to invest large amounts of money to drive the development forward over the coming two decades. This means going from less than 20 million cars in 2022 to perhaps 500 million globally in 2045 or 2050. In the case of transport vehicles and buses the development will go from less than one percent to 30, 40, or 50 percent by the same time, in any case tens of millions of vehicles globally. The amount of development and change that will be needed in total has not been widely discussed and few are at present aware of the business development and change efforts that will be needed. This is of course an advantage for those who are active at this early stage because they can develop their offerings and see them grow in the market without much competition.
Four large global industries will entirely change or grow substantially through the development of electromobility:
– The automotive industry, including suppliers and partners will need to change entirely from petrol and diesel vehicles to fully electric cars, buses, and trucks.
– The fuel industry will have to stop selling petrol and diesel and instead supply electricity.
– Transport companies will have to stop buying and using electric vehicles and instead use electric vehicles for all purposes.
– The utilities industry will have to undergo dramatic change. Power grids will need development. Grids need to become digitized, local power production through wind and solar needs to increase, and battery storage needs to expand to utilize all the electricity that is produced. in most countries power production will have to expand on a large scale, meaning that national programs will be needed to expand power production.
In addition to this, other industries will have to become involved in expansion and development activities for e-mobility:
– Parking lots and parking houses at supermarkets, shopping centres, sports facilities, and other places where many citizens come will need to offer charging opportunities at a large share of parking spaces.
– Equipment and technology suppliers will experience growing demand for solutions related to e-mobility products, programs, apps, and many other needs.
– Hundreds of thousands of people will need to be trained to take roles in the development. At present few even understand the scale of the change or see the range of activities that will have to be involved.
A change of this scale has not been experienced in history. A very large number of mature and highly competitive products and services used at present need to change and be designed and produced in new ways, using technologies and solutions that are different from the ones used at present.
Electromobility has developed over the past decades, but slowly and on a small scale. The stage is now set for large-scale expansion. Entrepreneurs that understand this development and have the competence and resources to develop business offerings for this largely unexplored market will face huge opportunities when growth takes off.
It is time now to start to engage with the challenges embedded in this field and develop solutions that can grow with the markets. By interviewing vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, transport companies, and other players that are already out there, developing products and services based on e-mobility you will get information and leads that will help you develop services for this growing market.
To succeed, entrepreneurs need to be thorough and systematic. Offerings need to address key issues for users, and they need to be better or less expensive to use than existing offering, if there are any…
Success requires persistence and ingenuity, and it is often necessary to adapt offerings to fit the needs as they emerge when an increasing number of people and companies start to use electric vehicles and related services. To develop competitive solutions would-be entrepreneurs often need to team up with business partners with skills that complement their own.
One way of developing and improving ideas is to go to seminars, workshops, and exhibitions where people meet and discuss the challenges related to e-mobility, Entrepreneurs need to be close to the market, talk to customers and become inspired by them.
Mats is the author of five internationally published books on sustainability, focusing on the large-scale change to electromobility, the circular economy, and energy efficiency. His latest book is “The Blind Guardians of Ignorance — Covid -19, Sustainability, and Our Vulnerable Future” and the first one of these was “Global Energy Transformation.”
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