Nissan’s eNV200 and the automotive revolution – It’s a pod, pod, pod
Time for the automotive revolution to evolve
It’s hard to argue that electric cars don’t make sense. Well, aside from costs and range of course. But over time those issues will become less and less relevant. Still, it could be many years, even decades, before an electric car can offer the same range and refueling times as conventional ones — at similar cost.
That’s why I believe the auto — the entire concept of transportation — needs to be reinvented, or at least re-imagined. Doing so would make electric cars far more feasible and far sooner.
And that’s why Nissan’s eNV200 tripped my trigger, if even only a little.
In my opinion, the Nissan Leaf doesn’t make sense. It drives me crazy when people suggest one should buy an electric car like the Leaf to save on fueling costs. Please. Buying a Versa and a lifetime of gasoline is just so much simpler for the average consumer if they are truly concerned about costs. Plus a Versa doesn’t have to be plugged in, offers significantly better range, and is much easier to refuel.
Sure, in a perfect world, there is still an argument to be made for the Leaf, but we’re never going to live in a perfect world. Besides, auto-drive technology will be cost-effective before plug-ins like the Leaf are, and that should probably be the focus of the real automotive revolution, especially considering owning a car is one of the best ways to ensure a heart attack, and autodrive can help cure that ailment.
So then, why do I like the eNV200?
Functionality. Seriously, an auto doesn’t have to stretch too far beyond the basic platform of the Leaf to fulfill the needs of most American families, and the eNV200 demonstrates that quite well. Most vehicles, even those used partially for business, really don’t need to be much bigger than an eNV200. I mean look at the functionality and utility offered by the eNV.
Of course, for most commuting, even the Leaf is way too big for the task. Way too big.
It’s time to start thinking transportation pods, especially heading into the future. Again, with auto-drive and new automotive materials tiny and ultra light single person transportation pods could be as safe as the average SUV today, and several times more efficient. Even if the US fleet were largely powered by such gasoline pods, America could end foreign oil dependence without any need for batteries. Of course, in many situations adding batteries would make sense — maybe even most scenarios.
The auto industry truly is on the verge of an amazing revolution, but do consumers, the auto industry and policy makers want to seize it, or is the general status quo just easier to maintain, despite the overwhelming and obvious downsides of continuing our insanity? Sadly, I’d bet on the later.
Nevertheless, 1 person, 2 person, even 3 person pods — attachable to each other — and each independently autonomous if needed are the future. Family of six? Buy two 3 person pods, or maybe three 2 person pods.
Combine the pod idea with Better Place’s battery swapping plan and even more revolutionary ideas are possible. It’s not that you regularly swap batteries as a means of fueling, you simply rent larger batteries based on needs. Thus, you can buy a pod and lease a 50, 100 or 200 mile battery that can be upgraded or downgraded at anytime. Consequently, maybe you regularly need a 50 mile battery, but twice a year, you lease a 200 mile battery for some longer trips, even if upgraded for only a single day or two.
Connectivity, population growth, pollution, efficiency, etc. will not be combated by simply adding plugs and batteries to our current vehicles. We have to think more evolutionary. Think about emerging markets like China and India. The pod idea fits perfectly, and since those markets will be the engine of the world’s auto industry, the US has everything to gain and everything to lose by not reinventing transportation as quickly as possible, but also as cost-effectively, efficiently and as intelligently as possible.
So, laugh at the eNV200. Laugh at self-driving pods. But in the end the joke will be on you.