You’re driving along the coast, wind blowing through your hair without a care in the world. You’re headed to wherever your heart desires.
It could be a trip to the countryside. A visit to the fantastic rural towns and regions littered across our vast nation.
Or perhaps you’d prefer a visit to the ocean. A tranquil getaway to one of our world renowned and spectacular beaches. They’re an iconic part of our landscape after all.
Maybe you’re headed instead to the city. A visit to one of our big cultural metropolises for a night on the town.
It doesn’t matter where you’re headed, or where you want to go, the choice is yours. It’s just you and your car and the freedom of the road. Or at least it should be…
The fact is, your car is battery-powered. A modern car that’s not only great for the environment but cheap to run. But, it has its limitations…
Despite how much you love your battery powered electric vehicle (BEV), it doesn’t have that same sense of freedom. It’s actually extremely limited in terms of how far it’ll take you.
That battery under the hood just doesn’t last long enough. You’ll be lucky if you can make it an hour or two out of town and back without needing to recharge.
Your car has put the brakes on any sort of long-distance road trip…
This is the potential future of a world filled with BEVs. At least in the near-future.
A world filled with cars that are incredibly efficient, but can only manage short trips. Great for city slickers who make short trips. Not so great for people who need to make longer journeys though. Especially for those who live out in rural areas.
Fortunately for these people, we’re very unlikely to see this future…
Filling up for the long haul
Don’t worry, BEVs aren’t doomed. In fact they’re only going to get better and better. But, they won’t be the only option for drivers.
Much like the world today, the future of fuel will be diverse. It’s simply a matter of needs and prices. And while BEVs will be hard to beat on value when it comes to fuel costs, their range can leave much to be desired.
Fortunately, we have alternatives. And no, it’s not petrol. It’s much, much better.
Your ‘alternative’ vehicle of the future will run on the most abundant element in the universe and emits water that you can literally drink!
Sounds too good to be true? Not the case according to some. And the largest car manufacturer in the world is aiming to make this clean ‘fuel’ a hit.
It is of course hydrogen. Or more accurately a hydrogen fuel cell. And Toyota believes it could be a big part of our transportation future.
In fact, Toyota has been selling a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) for over three years now. It’s called the Mirai, which means ‘future’ in Japanese.
The car works just like many petrol vehicles on the road today. You can refuel in minutes, not hours, and travel just as far as you would on a tank of petrol. The only caveat is that you can’t fill up at a petrol station.
Like BEV’s, the infrastructure for FCEV’s isn’t ready just yet. And that is a major stumbling block for this technology’s future. Making it popular enough to warrant refuelling stations.
Fortunately, Toyota is a company that has the money and the influence to make that happen. It’s not going to be easy though.
Right now you can only buy the Mirai in places with hydrogen fuel infrastructure. Namely Japan and California, though parts of Europe are coming online as well.
The problem is that the Mirai is seen as a competitor to its increasingly popular battery-operated cousins. After all, they’re both vying to wrestle control over the green transportation future.
But, Toyota and energy giant, Shell don’t see it that way. They believe that the future has room for both types of cars. A future where short-trips are handled by battery power and longer journeys are made possible with hydrogen.
As Engadget along with Stijn van Els, Chairman of Shell Germany note,
‘Van Els added that “the fuel and drivetrain for mobility will depend on what you’re looking for.” In the future, there will not be a single fuel that we are all using all of the time: It’ll be much more tailored to your needs. Transportation businesses, for instance, lose money when their vehicles sit idle, and that’s a problem if you’re spending an hour a day at a charger. “Even 15 minutes is too long for a taxi,” said van Els.’
In that regard, our EV future will look increasingly more diversified. Even beyond batteries and hydrogen — new fuel sources will almost certainly develop. No doubt offering unique benefits whether they be related to cost, range or availability.
The point is, greener transport isn’t a one stop shop. Choice is an integral part of what makes an industry successful.
And for businesses involved, finding ways to capitalise on these new energy avenues will be crucial.
The transportation revolution is not just for car makers, but for everyone.
Editor, Tech Insider
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