Electrifying the Dutch – Part 3: alternatives for the alternative

Over the past few weeks I have written two articles on Electric Cars, part one & part two mentioning that electric cars are a valid alternative for the conventional car from an economical perspective and that these cars are offering mobility whilst considerably reducing the environmental impact. But still: can I use an electric car for my daily commute? Yes I can! Can I use an electric car to safely convey myself and my family across the Dutch countryside? Yes I can!  Can I get more than 100 km from a single charge without driving like my grandfather or without having to dress like entering an Antarctica expedition when temperatures fall? Yes I can!  Can I use an electric car to drive to Italy in my well-earned holidays? Yes I can! But I’d better make sure that I have extra time to spare.

Obviously the present electric cars do have some drawbacks which stand in the way of an one on one substitution of conventional cars by electric models.

First and foremost, an electric car needs time to charge. There is no denying that. Charging time differ from six to ten hours, which is generally more than the average motorist lingers at a petrol station. Adding injury to insult, a majority of households do not have a private parking space or the possibility to install a charging station. Luckily the number of public charging stations is steadily increasing, decreasing the need to carry around street lengths of extension wires. And most electric cars can use the fast charging protocol, decreasing the charging time till 90% to a mere 20 minutes. And if that’s still to long for you, some companies are aiming at replacing empty batteries with full ones in less then 3 minutes without the need to leave your car. The current aim is to realize well over 450 fast charging station across the Netherlands by the end of 2013, pretty much ending the feared syndrome known by all in the field of electric cars: range anxiety.

Another point to be made is that, when confronted with the limited range of a battery, electric car owners are reassessing the need for mobility and are rapidly becoming the forerunners of a new breed motorist. The route to and from work, to meetings etc used to be determined by the amount of traffic, the possibility of grabbing a nice lunch of combining business with… well business, such as the daily shopping for groceries. Range anxiety and the knowledge that petrol stations are effectively around every corner called for a planning which was the most efficient for the motorist, but not necessarily the most efficient in general.

With an electric car, users are looking for a more effective way to travel whilst meeting their demands and the effect is, to much surprise that the mileage is dropping without the number of meetings dropping. This simply means that users of an electric car are travelling more efficiently. The spacing and location of meetings is planned more effectively, decreasing the mileage. There is an increased use of car sharing programs also decreasing the mileage and – as a side-effect- decreasing the need for an employer to pay travel allowances.

Electrifying the DutchBut still, there are few motorists who willingly substitute there fuel guzzler for an electric car (apart from perhaps the Tesla.) The question is whether we should aim for  this substitution? I believe that electric cars make a paradigm shift from ownership of mobility to access to mobility a reality.

In the traditional way, we own a car. Or perhaps, in the case of a company car, we may not own the vehicle, but we sure feel like we own the car. One car (possibly two, for the school run), used for the daily commute, the trips to friends & family and holidays. One car, owned generally for more than four years. This car, seats four, generally transports 1,7 persons, travels less than 30 kilometers on a daily basis and carries a bag of some sorts, sometimes groceries. So it needn’t be a large car. But still it generally is, because we might want to travel to the grandparents over the weekend, or take off for a weekend to the Ardennes. So that is why we need a large conventional car, which can take us to Italy should we wish to.

But picture this: what if we can use a small electric car for the daily commute, or, even better, use a small electric car readily available, for the commute to work or the shops. Very fuel efficient, and preferably paid only for the use of the car, instead of for owning the car. This vehicle can transport us where we want, given the radius. For example, to a train station. We hop into the train, check in with the same RIFD-card which we used to access the electric car, travel to our destination. Upon arriving, we can choose between a rental (e)bike, public transport or once again, the electric car in the vicinity of the station to transport us to the appointment. The route back home is a repetition of the above! A distant future? No, very possible today.

And for the visit to the grandparents in Limburg, or a cycling weekend in the Ardennes? Could this limit our mobility, if we don’t have a large car with unlimited mileage given the petrol stations abound? No! All it takes is an innovative way of access to mobility! Access which delivers the car of choice (model, not necessarily make) to your doorstep without having to go through the hassle of going to a rental agency and renting a car. The car we need  would be available at the click of a button. Family with two young kids and up for a holiday trip to France? A station wagon! A romantic overnight stay? An Electric Smart! In need of a versatile, small and fast way of transport? Please. Use a bicycle!

What about the costs of renting a different car every single time? Well, it may come as a surprise, but considering the costs of car ownership over the year, renting  a car which specifically suits your demands is significantly less expensive than paying for car ownership. And as proves earlier, an electric car as a rental makes the equation even more profitable.

Is this possible today? Yes and no! There are very few providers who can offer such services but the main and limiting factor is us. We are very reluctant to give up the privilege of having a car at our disposal and mobility in its present form is still not too expensive for the average motorist to start reconsidering car ownership. Although some are renting their own car to others already.

However, I, for one, am convinced that in due time, when petrol prices rise (and they will) and the travel allowance is once again being renegotiated, people will reconsider and will realize that in the end, having access to mobility far outweighs the ownership of mobility. Let’s dumb the pump.

This post was orginally written for and published by TEDxBinnenhof in close collaboration with Ivo Stroeken, Advisor Electric Transportation, and Max Herold, owner at Managementissues.com.

Onderzoek naar de nieuwe economie van het delen

Vandaag kwam ik via ReadWriteWeb terecht bij een enquete over de nieuwe economie van het delen. De enquete wordt gehouden door het bedrijf Latitude, als beloning kon je 10 dollar schenken aan Creative Commons of Project for Public Spaces. Door het overweldigende succes van de enquete is dat deel van de beloning helaas gestaakt. Dat neemt niet weg dat het volgens mij de moeite loont om de enquete in te vullen. Al was het maar om aan het denken gezet te worden over wat je allemaal kunt delen… en de links die je cadeau krijgt op basis van de gegevens die je invult.

De tiplijst

Based on the responses you gave, we think you might be interested in checking out the following articles on sharing:

Meer informatie over het onderzoek staat op de site van Latitude.

How To Share Time http://shareable.net/blog/how-to-exchange-time

Schoner woon-werk vervoer

In de Volkskrant Banen van 18 december staat een interessant artikeI getiteld ‘Groene kilometers maken’. Helaas is de site van Volkskrantbanen niet echt goed doorzoekbaar op de redactionele stukken.

Kern van het stuk is het zoeken door leasemaatschappijen, bedrijfsleven en OV-bedrijven naar slimme oplossingen voor mobiliteit. Waarom in de file staan van het centrum van Utrecht naar het centrum van Amsterdam als het ook met de trein kan? Tot voor kort werden de treinkosten door veel werkgevers niet vergoed als de werknemer een lease-auto heeft. Het artikel laat zien dat daar langzaam aan verandering in komt. Een groeiend aantal leasemaatschappijen biedt mobiliteitsoplossingen aan in plaats van enkel lease-autos. Daarbij krijgt de leaserijder bijvoorbeeld een budget voor mobiliteit. Hij of zij kan vervolgens zelf bepalen hoe groot/duur de lease-auto wordt en hoeveel van het budget hij/zij liever inzet voor vervoer per trein, taxi of deelauto. De moeite waard, ook voor het bedrijfsleven, aangezien het mes aan meer kanten snijdt:

  • Vervoer wordt maatwerk,waarbij de werknemer zelf beslist wat het handigste vervoersmiddel is. In het eerder genoemde voorbeeld werkt de trein, maar als je van Wageningen naar Tiel wil kun je beter de auto nemen…
  • De uitstoot van stikstofoxides (NOx) en fijnstof door gebruikers neemt af, waardoor de Europese luchtkwaliteitsnormen makkelijker gehaald worden. Beide stoffen dragen sterk bij aan luchtverontreiniging op lokaal niveau en volgens het MNP is de bijdrage van verkeer aan de emissies van fijnstof en stikstofoxides behoorlijk (Bron: Emissies naar lucht per doelgroep, 2006, Milieu en Natuur Compendium).
  • De uitstoot van CO2 door gebruikers neemt af

Het artikel refereert voor de afname van emissies aan een rapport van CE Delft, uitgevoerd in opdracht van Mobility Mixx. Het rapport “Op weg naar groener zakenverkeer” is op de site van Mobility Mix te downloaden.

Er zijn meer leasebedrijven die soortegelijke constructies aanbieden, de NS is actief op de zakelijke markt en ook autodeelbedrijven (zoals Greenwheels en Connect Car) doen aan vlootbeheer en mobiliteitsoplossingen bieden. Hoewel ik laatst te horen kreeg dat je als zakelijk rijder niet aan kunt komen bij een klant in een GreenWheel. Dat lijkt me tijd voor een charme offensief, zoals ik meen Sylvia Toth, voormalig directeur vanTempo Team, dat deed voor kleine auto’s. Ik stel zelf verbaasde mensen vaak de vraag waarom ik ruim Euro 100 in de maand zou betalen voor een auto die als ik hem al gebruik ook meestal stil staat vanwege files. Zelf lees ik dan liever de krant in de trein en pak ik alleen voor de laatste kilometers een OV-fiets of GreenWheel, zeker binnen de randstad.

Bron: Groene kilometers maken, Volkskrantbanen, 18 december 2007.