Alternative powertrains and vehicles are well integrated in the mobility ecosystem due to the flexibility and penetration that they provide to operate in different regions of the world to a variety of consumers. These could, most of the times, be enabled through different sources of energy specific to those regions. The opportunity of innovation and the energy security that they provide are enormous.
Data shows that over the last two decades, innovation and opportunity in alternate powertrains has been 1.3 times that in the conventional mobility. Skilled work opportunities have grown in the domains that never existed, by 11 %. Though initial work in these and similar domains was more on the exploratory spectrum, the value of their deployment became obvious, with the growing investment in time and energy in nurturing these opportunities and options.
Big data through data lakes and analytics have opened avenues to reach out to the sources of geographical exploration of relevant enabling energy sources, raw materials for batteries and ultra-capacitors, charging infrastructure for e-mobility, opportunity to process fuels and the logistical framework of bringing this energy to the doorstep of the consumer. Analytics has enhanced the ability to review and understand the pragmatic aspirations of consumers. Today, not even 2 % of analytics is leveraged to understand consumer needs of alternative powertrains. These powertrain options are perceived as a top down deployment from OEMs to meet regulations and norms, and co-exist in a nascent play field with their peers. On the contrary, OEMs and stakeholders have continually invested large amount of resources and energy to bring in upstream and downstream options for mass market deployment.
AVAILABILITY OF RESOURCES
Success of the deployment of alternative powertrains is, most of the time, associated with availability of the energy source at the consumer doorstep since that translates into sales volumes and the entire cycle of manufacturing, distribution, aftersales, communication and recycling. Many of the energy options that enable these powertrains have been accepted and many are in the pipeline for mass market acceptance.
Besides investment, downstream deployment also needs the framework of appropriate regulations and norms, safety practices and processes, and the chain link of actions. Due to the changing consumer mind-sets in our data driven world – energy access, energy relevancy, availability, connectivity, communication and usability, the alternative powertrains have a much higher opportunity for a quicker benefit to the ecosystem. In recent years, fleet management and vehicle co-sharing are some of the newer business models in the changing landscape. ADAS, of course, could be the next popular upcoming business opportunity.
DEVELOPING A SUSTAINABLE FOOTPRINT
The positive side of alternate powertrains is that they have a larger audience and not just restricted to the automotive fraternity and energy providers. This is due to the broader range of stakeholders, upstream and downstream, that enable their mass market acceptance. It is more than changing of few components and systems in a vehicle to make it road worthy. The alternative powertrain vehicle is a moving electron that has to survive and integrate well in the humongous galaxy of existing conventional vehicles and infrastructures. The nucleus of this universe of alternative powertrains is technology and innovation as they are change agents of this dynamic fast moving galaxy.
The growth of alternate powertrains is a given in the journey of shifting energy resources and changing paradigms of consumers and business models. It is up to the mobility fraternity and the ecosystem to adopt, adapt and accept the change to develop a sustainable footprint that can balance as well as leverage various levers. It is up to us, now!