Auke Hoekstra is an optimist. In his Hive Talk at the New Energy Forum, which focused on Breaking Barriers, he stated that the first major barrier in the mobility transition has already been removed. If you calculate correctly, an electric car is now not only cleaner over its entire lifespan, but also cheaper than a car that runs on fossil fuel. Batteries are also getting better and cheaper. Add to this that cars with a fuel engine will no longer be allowed to be sold from 2035 and it is clear that this is a done deal. The passenger car will be electric.
Now that may not be such a controversial opinion, but Hoekstra thinks that we will also reach that tipping point for trucks in about three years. Moreover, he has been thinking and calling it for years, even when electric driving was still in its infancy. His reasoning: an electric motor is much more efficient, does not wear out and requires virtually no maintenance.
According to Hoekstra, we have reached the point where the transition to electric driving is more or less automatic. The market can take over from here. But we are not there yet, says Hoekstra. Everyone has an electric car in front of the door instead of one on diesel or petrol, that is still a waste of money and raw materials. Another transition is needed: from human-operated “private cars” to autonomous taxis.
According to Auke Hoekstra, also those will come, for the same reason: it is ultimately smarter, cheaper, more efficient and more enjoyable. If autonomous vehicles running on green energy are abundantly available, hardly anyone will need to have their own car. A large proportion of those autonomous vehicles will probably not resemble a current passenger car at all. Think of “delivery robots” that can replace the countless couriers in a city.
From ownership to flexible use
All in all, according to Hoekstra, this involves not one, but three transitions in mobility. From fossil to electric, from controlled to autonomous, and from ownership to flexible use. And they are all already underway and, at least in Hoekstra’s eyes, logical and inevitable.
It is a clear vision, which in Hoekstra’s lecture surprisingly resulted in an animation that showed how much more pleasant a city becomes when the car is no longer the starting point of every design. More space for people and greenery, less for driving around and (especially) stationary vehicles.
Plenty of questions remain. The city will become more livable, but does that also apply to the countryside? The fact that electric motors hardly wear out, what does that mean for garages? For the second-hand market? What will the role be for public transport with a view to autonomous transport and shared mobility?
Hoekstra’s story makes it clear that we better start thinking about these kinds of questions. It is clear where we are going, but how we will get there in the best possible way is still largely unclear.
About the New Energy Forum 2022
The second edition of New Energy Forum took place on 23 June. New Energy Forum is the event for the (upcoming) energy and mobility professional, with this year’s theme ‘Breaking Barriers’. Visitors were challenged with and inspired by the latest developments in the energy transition and sustainable mobility innovations. The New Energy Forum is organized by Hive.Mobility, EnTranCe and New Energy Coalition.