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Clean disruption of energy and transportation

I just came across the below talk by Tony Seba about the coming “clean disruption” of energy and transportation. The talk follows his book of the same name. Click here if you can’t see it below. It runs about an hour, but I would encourage you to give it a watch. 

The first few minutes will be things I’m sure many of you have heard before, such as the failure of Kodak to embrace digital cameras (film business considered too valuable), Moore’s Law, and so on. But he then moves on to cost curves, battery storage, solar power, and autonomous electric vehicles (A-EVs).

You all know that I am fascinated by these topics, so here’s one piece that stood out for me: 2021 is his prediction for the year in which A-EVs become real and disrupt both internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and individual car ownership.

Obviously this won’t happen overnight, but Tony’s belief is that 2021 will be the year that the economics of A-EVs become so compelling (10x) that it will crush our current business models.

The argument is that on-demand ride hailing/sharing and A-EVs will converge and that Transportation as a Service (TaaS) will provide our mobility needs at a fraction of today’s costs. We’ve talked about this prediction before on the blog, but never has a timeline been attached to it.

All of this reinforces two thoughts that I’ve been having over the past few years. One, I will probably never buy another combustion engine vehicle. And two, I should probably avoid buying another vehicle, period, until the next wave of business models becomes clearer. Leasing likely makes more sense at this stage if you need a car.

In fact, Tony believes that with the collapse of individual car ownership, the resale value of cars could become negative. That is, you’d have to pay people to take a car off of your hands, because everyone will recognize the cost advantage of just using TaaS.

We are doing everything we can to future proof our development projects so that they are ready for electric vehicles. But if A-EVs and TaaS completely erase individual car ownership within the next 5 years, then all of us in the industry are going to need to do much more to ready our buildings and cities.

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