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WEF 2023: Charting The Electric Vision For Future

Industry leaders at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos stressed cooperation between network, infrastructure, government and technology for large-scale adoption of electric vehicles

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Uber has vowed to have zero carbon emissions by 2030 in portions of Canada and Europe and globally by 2040, said Jennifer Vescio, Chief Business Development Officer, Uber Technologies, on Wednesday while speaking on the future of Electric Vehicles (EVs) at the World Economic Forum 2023.

The forum saw participants agreeing on supply chain, availability of chargers, and affordability as some of the major hurdles in the adoption of EVs.

Achieving Low Carbon Emissions

Highlighting the magnitude of carbon accumulation, Gill Pratt, Chief Scientist and Executive Fellow for Research; Chief Executive Officer, Toyota Research Institute, Toyota Motor Corporation said, “The word accumulation is used because carbon is like the water in a bathtub. It stays in the atmosphere for a long time up to 100 years, sometimes even more. It is not how much carbon we put out in one year that matters, but it is the total accumulated over time.” 

He added, “If we want to minimise the total amount, we need to minimise carbon as soon as possible.”

Pratt also expressed dismay that there won't be much lithium if the carbon keeps on accumulating. He explained that battery manufacturing only requires 2-3 years to establish themselves while mines take 10-15 years. 

"There won't be enough materials, causing a shortage in supply," he said.

Source: Benchmark Minerals IntelligencePratt laid down three ways of electrifying, that are pure battery vehicles, which utilise a lot of lithium and are only capable of running on batteries. The other one which is a plug-in hybrid vehicle or in operated standard battery that has an engine on board that can recharge the batteries while the car is driving beyond a certain range. And then finally the hybrid vehicle which is older technology that uses gasoline but at a much more highly efficient range. All of these use lithium, but they use different amounts.

Vescio highlighted Uber's initiatives towards carving out facilities for the drivers and its consumers. The amenities include accessible, reasonably priced TVs for the drivers. In addition, they are working to ensure quick charging wherever they can. There are numerous options accessible on the demand side. For instance, customers can select Uber Green, Comfort, or a scooter. "The company is making efforts to reduce personal car ownership in the long term," she stated. 

“We have avoided 12 million gallons or 47 million litres of gasoline over the early stage of commitment. We have also given over 260 million miles on EV," Vescio commented.

In order to reduce the cost of drivers, Uber is seeking to strike agreements with banks and financial partners, but this is taking longer than expected. They are making an effort to reconcile all the parties.

Vescio also talked about the agreements they are having with the firms worldwide to achieve the goal. She said, “We are trying to sign try agreements where banks and financing partners help work with OEMs and other manufacturers to put the cost of drivers, but this is taking more time. We are trying to bring all the parties together.”

How Will The Future Unfold?

In the future, EV and AV (autonomous vehicles) will work together to accomplish the ambitious goal. To do this, the experts predict that cooperation between network, infrastructure, government, and technology would be necessary. Early-stage tech businesses are starting to disrupt the market far more quickly than some older players.

By 2030, Toyota plans to produce 3.5 million batteries annually. However, according to the company, some regions of the world lack access to charging networks and have less environmentally friendly infrastructure for recharging vehicles.

Experts anticipate a rise in lithium-ion batteries due to their futuristic outlook on batteries. When discussing about the circularity in the automobile industry, experts agreed that recycling batteries is important because it is a component of circularity but does not constitute it entirely.

The experts went on to say that they are conscious of the fact that battery electric vehicles are still relatively new and that their market is rapidly expanding, there won't be many old batteries that can be recycled, therefore it will not address the issue of a shortage.

They stressed on lowering the amount of energy and carbon emissions in order to recycle.