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Contributions by Jim Castellano, Vice President, Design Engineering, Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, and Yashodeep Lonari, Researcher, Research & Development Division, Hitachi America
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for 29% of U.S. carbon emissions,1 those heat-trapping greenhouse gases that contribute to poor air quality and are considered a factor in climate change and rising global temperatures. The electric vehicle (EV) market is poised to make a big dent in that number by reducing carbon emissions and thereby helping to improve the environment. An increase in consumer awareness around environmental issues, coupled with advances in the automotive industry, are creating a strong market for EVs. As demand for EVs grows, the automotive industry is presented with a unique and powerful opportunity to make a social impact for the greater good. Reducing carbon emissions - as critical as that is - is just the beginning.
New technology and innovative vehicle design have gone a long way toward eliminating many of the concerns with early models. EV owners now can charge their vehicles at home through easy-to-install, affordable chargers. Newer EV models can travel greater distances between charges. Connectivity options and cloud-based technology offer owners accurate, real-time information so they can feel confident about their range for specific trips as well as improve their driving habits. Fully integrated electrification components mean customers no longer have to compromise on storage space or limit passengers to only four per vehicle, and the vehicles themselves are now more stylish and produce less noise.
And the result? New registrations for EV ownership in the U.S. doubled between 2017 and 2018.2
Dramatically reducing carbon emissions is a critical imperative in combating the impacts of global warming, and EVs are an important component in this effort. But EVs can do even more. In fact, EVs present a threefold opportunity when it comes to making a positive social impact:
EVs produce zero direct emissions into the air, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.3 When assessed in terms of annual “well-to-wheel” emissions (the entire fuel supply chain), EVs generate less than half of the emissions that traditional gas-powered cars do.4 Depending on the original source of electricity they use, these vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce the need for expensive and carbon emission-producing fossil fuels.
EVs that are also “connected cars” have access to traffic, weather and road condition data that allows them to calculate and select the most efficient route. By using real-time connected data for predictive control and energy management, an EV can continuously adjust its route and speed as necessary to ensure overall efficiency, which provides both economic and environmental benefits.5
With their greater energy efficiency, cleaner environmental footprint and expanded connectivity features, EVs are becoming a natural fit with the smart cities of the future, in which the internet of things (IoT) and complementary technologies are solving problems in areas ranging from infrastructure to safety to transportation.6 In alignment with this movement, BMW has created a hybrid that can automatically switch to full electric in certain cities that include the right connectivity and smart city technology to make that switch.7
The new maturity of EVs is opening up a wealth of opportunities for significant social benefits across the globe. Hitachi is actively using advanced technologies to improve efficiencies and tackle real-world problems and is participating in smart city projects around the world. These projects are aimed at overcoming many of the problems that are affecting economies and the environment worldwide. In the mobility sector, Hitachi is working on demonstration experiments such as the use of EVs in community energy management. These projects show how we are helping cities implement solutions that combine EVs with other infrastructure considerations.8 In urban settings, managing city infrastructure can include coordinating navigation systems and city information sources with EVs to improve environmental factors associated with transportation.
For example, Hitachi’s roadmap for smart, electrified mobility includes plans for energy management systems that can reduce the impact on the environment while maintaining the security of the energy supply. The technology developed by Hitachi enables the flexible adjustment of the balance of regional energy demand and supply by combining charging management, vehicle information management, and other systems.9 Hitachi’s smart mobility initiatives include advances such as inductive charging technology, which allows electric vehicles to be charged through power supplies built into the road; centralized and network-based charger management; and the use of real-time charger output information in community energy management.10
Cities, states and countries are increasingly leveraging these pioneering technologies to bring economic, environmental and social benefits to their citizens. EVs, especially when combined with connectivity, play an important role in meeting those objectives. Dozens of major manufacturers - including Tesla, Audi, Nissan, Ford and BMW - are producing and selling EVs, many of which are already zipping quietly and efficiently up and down streets around the world. As communities continue to take advantage of connectivity-enabled, environmentally conscious technology such as EVs, Hitachi will continue to contribute its experience and expertise as it fulfils its mission to power good.
Learn more about how Hitachi is powering good in the world through advanced EV technology and eco-friendliness with outstanding driving performance.