NO PROGRESS WITHOUT SIDE EFFECTS.
Progress grows out of the need to solve a problem. The fact that in doing so, one can overdo it, is stated by no-one more plausibly than by Paul Watzlawick. Or by no-one as as soberly as Paul Virilio, the founder of dromology (the doctrine of society and speed). At some point, according to Virilio, progress would reach its zenith and would conversely reach, if it only repeated itself in one dimension, a dromological stalemate. For example, the more cars we have, the higher the probability of standing in congestion and not being able to move forwards or backwards. With every solution, a new problem emerges (congestion, foul air, etc.) and now it would be progress to solve this again. Virilio states the entire bitter truth when he says, entirely without cynicism, »The discovery of the train is also the discovery of derailment, the discovery of the airplane is also that of the plane crash . . .« Making progress quickly is nice but it has side effects.
MOBILITY OR CLEAN AIR?
Thus, the discovery of the automobile is also the discovery of accelerated C02 emission. Do we have to make a decision? Without mobility, social participation, individual satisfaction, progress and economic growth are impossible. Mobility increases quality of life, expands its multi-faceted nature and stipulates and links the demands and lifestyles of the most varied people with one another. This individualization is thereby an important driver of the growing need for more mobility in the future. And the number of people are growing in parallel with this wish for independence.
Opposing this are traffic networks and means of transport that, to a large degree, are meant for the combustion of fossil fuels. The worldwide exhaust of CO2 did not increase from 2014 to 2015 but reached a plateau of 36 billion tons but thereby still lies catastrophically high. The mission is clear: how can we both guarantee tomorrow’s mobility and at the same time, reverse CO2 emissions?
PESTILENCE OR CHOLERA?
Change begins in people’s heads. But even though it is clear to everyone that carbon dioxide presents a problem, the average CO2 emission per vehicle in 2017 climbed worldwide by 0.4 to 118.5 grams. Even Germany contibuted its share because of the increased purchase of heavy SUVs and gasoline models. The significantly more CO2-friendly diesel is no alternative for it has quite correctly been sidelined because of its deleterious effects. With the internal combustion engine, it appears as though we have a choice between pestilence and cholera.
IS COMMUNISTIC MOBILITY ON THE WAY?
In addition to this, we also have the fact that the automobile still fulfills a strong status and luxury function. To express it the way Tyler Durden does: »Everything you own will, some day, own you.« And he also just repeated in 1997 what cynics already were thinking in the 5th century B.C., »I do not possess so that I will not become possessed.« That which belongs to me is dear to me but takes effort. The commitment to the status game will become too great at some point because the world continues to turn. How many persons still take out their gold flatware in order to impress their visitors? The role of the automobile will transform drastically. More about that later. Until now, one has felt the consequences too little. The promise of greater performance still draws buyers and as a result, motors are getting bigger. Worldwide, every third new car is an SUV.
CHINA GETS OUT IN FRONT.
In Shanghai, the traffic tranquility typical of electrically driven cars already prevails. To be sure, a lot of gasoline engines bustle about on the streets but the government is accomplishing facts: vehicles with internal combustion engines may only drive six days of the week and after purchase, there is no guarantee of a license plate for cars with such an engine. The reason is that these are being raffled off. Thus, in Beijing, in 2018, only 40,000 new gasoline driven cars are being allowed but 60,000 vehicles with electric drives are being allowed on the streets. Among the latter, most are produced by Chinese manufacturers. Because of the trade dispute with the USA, Tesla has to accept a revenue loss of 70%. Automobile brands that do not sell at least 10% electric or hybrid models, will have to pay a penalty beginning in 2019. The number of charging stations in Beijing totals about 100,000.
IT IS 1888 ALL OVER AGAIN.
In Germany, there are attractive financial incentives. Buyers of electric cars or cars with fuel cells receive a 4,000 euro subsidy. For plug-in hybrid vehicles, it is 3,000 euro. However, it still requires charging stations and the expansion of the network is proceding sluggishly. Energy providers, service stations and automobile manufacturers see little incentive with such low sales numbers. The car buyers will encounter their decision then again after the expansion of the network.
The pace recalls a little the situation in 1888 when Bertha Benz ran out of fuel while underway and an apothecary in Wiesloch became the world’s first gas station. Back then, benzene, a means for cleaning textiles was being used as fuel; it could only be obtained at an apothecary. In 1910, there were already at least 2,500 gas stations in Germany. At today’s charging stations for electric vehicles, the service is still historic. On a test by the ADAC, only one of 53 charging stations came off with a »very good« and many were classified as inadequate. Often, there was no price transparency at the charging column or there was no way of recognizing the station amidst all the traffic.
CHARGING AT HOME?
Charging at home is not an option since household and parking garages lack the more powerful electrical connections. Here the cost to upgrade runs into the thousands. To be sure, countries and communities in Germany subsidize these expenses, however according to quite different criteria. A further barrier for the rapid expansion of electrical mobility are the long charging times of several hours. More powerful quick charging connections and more advanced batteries can already counteract this in individual cases.
AND OTHERWISE NOTHING?
Additional alternatives to the internal combustion engine are the hybrid drive (which, depending on speed and duration, switches between rechargeable battery and internal combustion engine), biomass-to-liquid (BtL) (where the biomass is purely botanical but not yet ready for mass production), natural gas (a fossil fuel but it releases less CO2 and is therefore suitable as an interim solution) and naturally hydrogen (hydrogen and oxygen react with one another to drive an electric motor). What makes the last option so attractive: the only products are heat and water and a hydrogen tank can be filled up in three minutes. Only problem is that the hydrogen service network in Germany is still quite sparsely equipped, consisting of only 52 stations, but the number is supposed to increase to 400 by 2023.
WHEN WILL WE FINALLY BE THERE?
And yet what sounds so environmentally friendly is unfortunately not CO2-neutral. Indeed, lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells are emission-free locally, but they transfer the problem to the manufacture of batteries, the electricity mix and the production of hydrogen. At present, 98% of hydrogen is won from fossil energy sources like petroleum, natural gas and coal. In the future, photovoltaics, wind and water power, solar and geothermic or biomass will have to serve as sources.
BETTER NOT TO DREAM OF BEAMING.
Yet enough of past and present. Let’s take a glimpse into the future. As socially worth striving toward as many of the things out of Star Trek may be, beaming should probably not be one of them. Let’s follow a thought experiment of the American philosopher Derek Parfit. Imagine teleportation would be possible. There are chambers in which we can travel from earth to Mars at the push of a button. You climb in, get scanned and are completely disintegrated, pain free. On Mars, you are reassembled down to the last elementary particle with nary the slightest aberration.
Imagine your friends are raving at how immediate and pleasant the trip proceeds: »You press a button and you are suddenly on Mars!« So you decide to try it out for once. However, in the course of preparations, you experience a discomforting detail. In order to leave nothing to chance, the technicians will wait until your entire being is perfectly put back together again on Mars. Only then will you be pulverized on earth. While your clone is continuing its life on Mars, you will simply be killed on earth.
THE EVOLUTION OF MOBILITY.
What still remains available to us besides Star Trek? The Future Institute outlines and establishes probable scenarios for the year 2040 in its study, »The Evolution of Mobility«. The car will remain important but its role will transform from a all-dominating symbol for freedom and status to a component of a diverse mobility mix that is oriented more toward actual need (getting from A to B). The successful cars of tomorrow will be distinguished by intelligent energy management and sustainability.
OTHERS WILL SELECT MY CAR.
This development shows up in the form of some early tender shoots in the free ADAC app called e-Drive. This app automatically charts the user’s journeys in his/her former vehicle and also includes key figures like elevation profile and outside temperature. That way, a realistic profile eventually emerges for which the app proposes a suitable car model. If an e-vehicle has already been selected in the app, the SmartPhone calculates in real time the charge status and remaining range.
Here in the foreground stand not brand, design or performance but the compatibility of ecological motivation and practicality. Here the app reproduces the development described above. The car takes a distinct step toward becoming a commodity.
TRANSITION OF THE WORLD OF WORK AND LEISURE.
In the future, the world of work will develop further from the classic industry to the service and network economy. The number of jobs with very high mobility will continue to increase. Comfortable travel, but also productive work should be possible while traveling in the future. Here autonomous driving will make an important contribution.
The increasing mixture of work and private time make a well thought-out individual mobility plan for leisure time more important. In a world experienced as fast-moving, deceleration and cautious mobility gain meaning. The omnipresent digital communication increases the need for genuine locations and real-world exchange. Will one’s work and private life at some point in time no longer be distinguishable? And what consequences will that have?
THE BURBS OF STAR WARS.
In addition, rising rents will make ever broader suburbs around major cities possible and in this way, increase the need for mobility. To again cite Star Wars: maybe the suburbs will grow out so far that the entire surface of the earth will be covered only by one single city, just as on the Coruscant, the center of the »far distant galaxy«.
In a cosmopolitan society, tourism will become one of the largest markets of the future. Barriers will fall because international mobility will work the same everywhere, just like the roaming principle. Place your fingerprint on the scanner and 20 seconds later, the air taxi arrives. Just like in Blade Runner, just not as spoiled by rain.
USE INSTEAD OF OWN.
It is entirely possible that you will no longer have any car because there will then no longer be any parking spaces (as is already the case today, but it is probably going to get still worse), because it will get more expensive, stand around a lot, and get dirty. But above all, because the alternative is so much better: a dense traffic network made up of the most varied means of transportation. It will be operated electrically, covers everything, be closely interconnected and usable based on need. Strictly speaking, no-one traveling in such a system of transportation would need to be either sober or of legal age.
CONFIDENCE WILL BE GOOD, SUPERVISION WILL BE GREEN.
With every advance in mobility, we also buy into its side effects and its frustrations. How do we move away from fossil fuels and what is keeping us from propagating new methods of propulsion? The reasons are varied but the transition of work time and leisure time will have a great influence on how tomorrow, we get from A to B.
From A to Z is where the specialists at »suchdialog« are looking after your demonstrable success in the digital world — with a holistic approach to customized solutions, competent data analyses, innovative digital marketing and an optimal customer experience.
ABOUT MARCUS LIND.
Our author Marcus Lind has been suffering from excess observation since birth, lending to his penchant for philosophy, meta levels and questions that go beyond everyday life. Although he attaches great importance to clarity when writing, he is convinced that a text sometimes has to cause maximum confusion. In addition, he can imitate various animal sounds (often only of his own free will, rarely on command) and is familiar with sound synthesis. His advice to all readers: Not everything that looks like a vita is. On the side, Marcus Lind thinks and writes as a copywriter and conceptioner for big and small brands on marcus-lind.de.