Tag: electric cars

The end of petrol stations

Another article looking at the future of electric vehicles. I particularly like the section where it talks about how, if you were trying to sell the idea of petrol stations these days, you’d never get anyone to sign off the health and safety side of things.

Electric vehicle optimists paint a world where you can plug in anywhere you park – at home while you sleep, as you work, when you are shopping or at the cinema.

Pretty much whatever you are doing, energy will be flowing into your car.

At this point, says Erik Fairbairn, 97% of electric car charging will happen away from petrol pump equivalents.

“Imagine someone came around and filled up your car with petrol every night so you had 300 miles of range every morning,” he says. “How often would you need anything else?”

In this brave new world, you’ll only ever pull over into a service station on really epic, long journeys when you’ll top up your battery for 20-30 minutes while you have a coffee and use the facilities.

Source: Why it’s the end of the road for petrol stations | BBC News

A glimpse into the future of autonomous electric vehicles

Ideally, we’d all be using mass transit rather than just switch fossil fuel-based vehicles for their electric equivalents. But, as a student of human nature, I recognise that autonomous electric vehicles might be a pragmatic stop-gap.

This is an interesting article, as it puts a price on how much these vehicles might cost by the hour (~7 Euros) and talks about what people might be doing while waiting for them to recharge (playing video games!)

The German automaker is considering charging an hourly fee for access to autonomous driving features once those features are ready. The company is also exploring a range of subscription features for its electric vehicles, including “range or performance” increases that can be purchased on an hourly or daily basis, said Thomas Ulbrich, a Volkswagen board member, to the German newspaper Die Welt. Ulbrich said the first subscription features will appear in the second quarter of 2022 in vehicles based on Volkswagen’s MEB platform, which underpins the company’s new ID.3 compact car and ID.4 crossover.

Source: What would you pay for autonomous driving? Volkswagen hopes $8.50 per hour | Ars Technica

What kind of world do we want? (or, why regulation matters)

I saw a thread on Mastodon recently, which included this image:

Three images with the title 'Space required to Transport 48 People'. Each image is the same, with cars backed up down a road. The caption for each image is 'Car', 'Electric Car' and 'Autonomous Car', respectively.

Someone else replied with a meme showing a series of images with the phrase “They feed us poison / so we buy their ‘cures’ / while they ban our medicine”. The poison in this case being cars burning fossil fuels, the cures being electric and/or autonomous cars, and the medicine public transport.

There’s similar kind of thinking in the world of tech, with at least one interviewee in the documentary The Social Dilemma saying that people should be paid for their data. I’ve always been uneasy about this, so it’s good to see the EFF come out strongly against it:

Let’s be clear: getting paid for your data—probably no more than a handful of dollars at most—isn’t going to fix what’s wrong with privacy today. Yes, a data dividend may sound at first blush like a way to get some extra money and stick it to tech companies. But that line of thinking is misguided, and falls apart quickly when applied to the reality of privacy today. In truth, the data dividend scheme hurts consumers, benefits companies, and frames privacy as a commodity rather than a right.

EFF strongly opposes data dividends and policies that lay the groundwork for people to think of the monetary value of their data rather than view it as a fundamental right. You wouldn’t place a price tag on your freedom to speak. We shouldn’t place one on our privacy, either.

Hayley Tsukayama, Why Getting Paid for Your Data Is a Bad Deal (EFF)

As the EFF points out, who would get to set the price of that data, anyway? Also, individual data is useful to companies, but so is data in aggregate. Is that covered by such plans?

Facebook makes around $7 per user, per quarter. Even if they gave you all of that, is that a fair exchange?

Those small checks in exchange for intimate details about you are not a fairer trade than we have now. The companies would still have nearly unlimited power to do what they want with your data. That would be a bargain for the companies, who could then wipe their hands of concerns about privacy. But it would leave users in the lurch.

All that adds up to a stark conclusion: if where we’ve been is any indication of where we’re going, there won’t be much benefit from a data dividend. What we really need is stronger privacy laws to protect how businesses process our data—which we can, and should do, as a separate and more protective measure.

Hayley Tsukayama, Why Getting Paid for Your Data Is a Bad Deal (EFF)

As the rest of the article goes on to explain, we’re already in a world of ‘pay for privacy’ which is exacerbating the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. We need regulation and legislation to curb this before it gallops away from us.