POSTSCRIPT / October 20, 2020 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Tomorrow is here! Are we missing it?

WHILE we Filipinos are still debating the fate of the World War-II vintage jeepney and whether or not to accept cash payment of bus fare, progressive sectors elsewhere have been shifting to electric and self-driving cars.

To catch up with the advanced auto world, at least in our mind, we share below historical notes on some of the more revolutionary (to us) changes in the automotive industry that will impact on our children and our planet.

Much as we want to thank the author of the roundup, which was reposted on our UP Pinoy 55 website, he shall be credited here merely as “ctto” for the compiled information some of which is quoted below:

* Basic auto repair shops will disappear.

A gas/diesel engine has 20,000 individual parts, while an electrical motor has only 20. Electric cars are sold with lifetime guarantees and are repaired only by dealers. It takes just 10 minutes to remove and replace an electric motor.

Faulty electric motors are not repaired in the dealership, but are sent to a regional service center where robots fix them.

Your electric motor malfunction light goes on, you drive up to what looks like a car wash, and your car is towed through while you have a cup of coffee — and out comes shortly your car with a new electric motor!

Smart major auto manufacturers have already allocated money to start erecting new plants that build only electric cars.

* Gas pumps will vanish from the scene, replaced by curbside meters dispensing electricity. Companies will put up electrical recharging stations. In fact, they have already started in the developed world.

Gasoline/oil companies will go away. Drilling for crude oil will stop. (But not in Philippine offshore areas shared, if found productive, with China?) Goodbye, OPEC! (The Middle East has sensed trouble coming.)

* Homes will produce and store more electrical energy during the day than they use and will sell it back to the grid. The grid stores and dispenses the excess to industries that are high electricity users. (Have you seen the Tesla roof?)

* A baby of today will see personal cars — but only in museums? The future is approaching faster than most of us can handle.

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85 percent of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt. Who would have thought of that ever happening?

What happened to Kodak, and Polaroid, will happen to many industries in the next 5-10 years … and most of us may not even see it coming.

Did you think in 1998 that three years later, you would never take pictures on film again? With today’s smartphones, who does not take pictures and quality videos with sound?

In the news media, hosts who used to invite a reporter-photographer team for out-of-town coverage now save money by inviting only a writer who is likely to tote a mean camera anyway. (In self-defense, some talented photogs have started to write, too!)

* In 2018, the first self-driving cars arrived. In the next two years, the industry was disrupted. You won’t want to own a car anymore as by calling a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination.

And you won’t need to park the car. You’ll pay only for the driven distance and you can be productive while being driven to where you want to go.

This new mode will change the face of our cities because we will need 90-95-percent fewer cars. We can transform former parking lots into breathing green parks.

About 1.2 million people die yearly in car accidents worldwide, including due to distracted/drunk driving. We now have one accident per 60,000 miles (96,560 kms).

With autonomous driving, that rate will drop to one accident per six million miles (9,656,000 kms), saving more than a million lives worldwide, each year! Auto insurance companies will have massive problems because without accidents, the costs will plunge.

Some traditional car companies will face bankruptcy. They can try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) can do the revolutionary approach of building “a computer on wheels”.

Look at what Volvo is doing — no longer installing internal combustion engines in their vehicles starting this year, with the 2019 models using all-electric or hybrid only, with the intent of phasing out the hybrid models.

Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi are terrified of Tesla — and they should be!

Look at all the companies offering all-electric vehicles, something unheard of only a few years ago. Electric cars will become mainstream about 2030.

Cities will be less polluted and noisy because all new cars will run on electricity. Real estate will readjust. Working from home (or from anywhere), people will abandon their old haunts to move far away to more desirable, but affordable, locations.

Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean. Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years., but we can now see its burgeoning impact.

Fossil energy companies will consider phaseout an option. They are desperately trying to limit access to the grid, to prevent competition from home solar installations. But that simply cannot continue — technology will take care of that strategy.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 20, 2020)

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