Talks on Tomorrow: future cities and electric mobility

11.12.2018
Talks on Tomorrow: future cities and electric mobility

A meeting with experts of this field discuss how mobility will change and which are the challenges that electric cars will have to deal with.

The road towards tomorrow is not straight and mapped out, but rather winding and filled with undiscovered scenarios. For this reason, confrontation is always useful: Volkswagen Group Italia participated in the third edition of “Talks on tomorrow”, the format organised by the Italian daily La Repubblica in partnership with Audi and H-Farm. The event entitled “Cities of the Future and Electric Mobility" was held at H-Farm’s headquarters in Roncade, near Treviso in north-east Italy. A talk dedicated to electric mobility, which is destined to become one of the main protagonists of the historic transformation of tomorrow’s society, but also a key tool for fighting the effects of climate change. But how will this transformation take place, and what are the possible scenarios?

Massimo Nordio, CEO of Volkswagen Group Italia; Carlo Ratti, architect and engineer, lecturer and head of the MIT Senseable City Lab, and Francesco Venturini, CEO of Enel X, tried to answer this question.

Four information are sufficient in order to put the phenomenon of urbanisation on a world scale into perspective: the fact that cities represent 2% of the world’s surface area, 50% of the world’s population live in them, and they consume 75% of the world’s energy production and generate 80% of all CO2 emissions. This means that the health of our planet depends on the management of cities”, began Carlo Ratti, who emphasised the importance of renewable energy sources.

These sources are already more competitive in terms of energy generation costs compared to the traditional ones, and they allow independence as they do not require oil to be purchased from producing countries”, Venturini explained, adding that “renewable sources must be managed prudently, as they depend on natural phenomena, which must be exploited to store energy which would otherwise be dispersed”.

The Volkswagen Group is investing 44 billion Euros over the next five years in order to develop electric mobility and digitisation: “It is a long path which requires major investments, above all in the initial phase. However, it must be clear that the transition towards e-mobility will not be fast or overnight, but rather very gradual. We need to think not just about the destination, but also about the entire route to get there. It is going to require a joint effort from all those involved in mobility”, noted Nordio. His hopes were echoed by Venturini: “Enel X will be investing between 400 and 600 million in global electric mobility over the next four years. It is going to be key for the electric vehicles of the future to interface actively with the grid, meaning not just using energy, but also storing it or giving it back when possible”.

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With regard to the next generation of electric cars, Nordio explained that “the Volkswagen Group’s vision is to produce a zero-emission electric vehicle for everyone, a car which costs the same as a comparable model with an internal combustion engine – the same size, equipment and performance. The new Volkswagen ID., for example, will cost the same as a turbo Diesel Golf, will have around 400 km of range, and will recharge in 30 minutes”. Nordio then added that “the Volkswagen ID. is going to come in a year, and will be a car able to solve the three problems of the electric vehicles currently available on the market: purchase price, range and recharging time. Indeed, the so-called range anxiety will disappear with the upcoming generation of electric vehicles, because, with a potential range of 400-500 km, there will be no need for charging stations every 100 km”.

Finally, regarding charging costs, Venturini clarified that “the cost of a full charge for an electric car can vary a lot: from as little as ten Euros, if charged at home, to a price comparable to a full tank of fuel at an ultra-fast charging station on the motorway”.