400,000+ pre-orders & driverless trucks

Tesla’s Model 3 recently passed 400,000 pre-orders with deposits of US$1,000/€1,000.

Following on from our last article regarding whether or not electric vehicles are jumping the gap to main stream, mass market adoption: Tesla have secured over 400,000 pre-orders with $1000/€1000 deposits for their newly announced Model 3 hatchback as of the last week in April 2016.

The frenzy around the launch is reminiscent of the iPhone launches back in the late noughties. Will Tesla take over a significant share of the car market or become a highly profitable niche player like Apple? Only time will tell, but the buzz and conversation around this company can only help to speed the adoption of electric vehicles around the world.

Driverless trucks

European truck manufacturers scored a major first last month with the world’s first cross border truck platooning test drive to Rotterdam, all the major suppliers ran 3 (or more) platoons from their home countries to Rotterdam.. Drivers reported a much more relaxed driving experience, even if they still had to keep their hands on the wheel. Supported by the Dutch government as part of their EU presidency. https://www.eutruckplatooning.com/About/default.aspx

What on earth has platooning got to do with electric vehicles and driverless trucks you may well ask?

Well one of the major selling points of Tesla cars is their ‘auto pilot’ feature, allowing drivers to drive on motorways hands free i.e. without their hands on the wheel. Platooning is the first tentative step to autonomous trucks and ultimately driverless trucks.

The YouTube videos of early adopters and drivers relaxing in autonomous trucks (drivers are still required to be present) are frankly hair raising, but as with many other technology introductions, once we figure out the legal and operational implications, we can see that this is where transport is heading.

Driverless trucks have significant implications for economic growth and society:

  • Current heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are governed by tachometer laws, which strictly regulate driving times, as a result many HGV’s only operate for limited periods each day, the legal limit is 11 hours with a single driver.
  • An automated truck can travel for as long as its fuel supply and road space allows; this has the potential to dramatically reduce road transport costs. Whilst strictly a future forecast for now, what would a 50% reduction in road transport costs do for your business?
  • For society, driving is a key employment opportunity for many who prefer the solitary nature of the work and the skills involved in operating a 38-46 tonne machine. However, the average age of HGV drivers in EU is over 50, will new young drivers relish the ability to play games whilst on motorways or shun the occupation altogether, accelerating adoption?
  • For the environment, further reductions in cost and growth in consumer products may well drive growth in waste as well as economic growth, whilst negating the energy savings and environmental benefits of the trucks themselves.
  • The implications are enormous for almost all sectors with traded goods; 95% of Ireland’s exports go by road, if we don’t adopt and adapt we may make our exports uncompetitive

Looking forward to an interesting decade, with many HGV’s already equipped with safety features such as lane departure warning and automatic braking, the autonomous vehicle future may be closer than we think.

Conor Molloy, is an independent energy advisor with an MSc in Energy Management and Renewable energy from University of Ulster, he is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM), Measurement & Verification professional (CMVP) and trainer for ISO50001. He is a registered lead ESOS assessor (UK) and registered energy auditor (Ireland).

Contact Conor at www.aems.ie or follow him on Twitter @conormolloy