I enjoy being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry...
The Electric Vehicle Revolution Coming Near You!
Estonia has become the world's first country to embrace social innovation and operate a nationwide electric car-charging network. The network of charging points uses direct current to charge cars in less than 30 minutes, rather than the average of eight hours to recharge a car's battery using AC.
There are about 650 electric cars in Estonia, a sparsely populated Baltic state with a population of just 1.3 million. It hopes the 165 social innovation 'fast chargers' will overcome the problem facing the take-up of electric cars worldwide and Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Minister of the Environment says, "The fact that recharging is so easy is one of the main reasons more and more Estonians will decide in favour of electric cars in future. Our entire transport policy should be based on the notion that environmentally friendly travel is the cheapest and simplest option available."
The charging points in Estonia are no further than 60km apart and have been made by ABB, a Swiss company who won the tender for the network. Ulrich Spiesshofer, head of discrete automation and motion at ABB, says, "Having a nationwide fast-charging network will encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles and it will motivate other countries to invest in their own charging infrastructure." Interestingly, the U.K. too, is now following the U.S. and is investing in charging points, with the view that more people will buy more electric vehicles (EV) and depend less on petrol. However, the U.K.'s investment is minimal compared with the $100m invested by the American government in its EV Project.
GM vice-chair Bob Lutz has stated that "the electrification of the automobile is a foregone conclusion." Electric power makes cars faster and cleaner. GM's plug-in car, the Volt, runs on electricity and uses gasoline for times when batteries can't do the trick. Nissan invested $6bn to develop the Leaf, making it the world's bestselling social innovation electric car in 2012 and Tesla's Model S made headlines as Motortrend's car of the year for 2013.
As the EV revolution develops, we may find the population of users changing; early adopters are those who live within the limited driving range of the current EV battery. As EVs become more popular, we can expect cars with bigger batteries that provide longer range, which means long-distance commuters and everyday drivers will want to drive these types of cars. However, these vehicles will also use more electricity, which means charging stations will become important, giving more options to everyone.
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