As the globe slips into the New Year (somewhat quieter and more subdued given the quarantine restrictions of COVID-19) the world of motoring is being rocked by some significant changes that will impact the way we look at automobiles let’s say, five or ten years from now. Since the beginning of the year is usually associated with prognostications and crystal-ball gazing into what the future brings, we consider it opportune to take a long look at what the road ahead looks for transportation and motoring in particular, for Filipinos whose love affair with the car is legendary.
It was a bit of understatement as far as news goes that an announcement was made in late December 2020 about possible Hyundai and Apple discussions into what could likely be the two companies signing a partnership for self-driving electric cars by March 2021. Production would start at Kia’s (partly owned by Hyundai) factory in the state of Georgia, with roughly 100,000 EVs rolling off the line as soon as 2024. A “beta” Apple car could be ready in 2022, one news report said. Reuters previously said Apple’s vehicle might lean on cutting-edge battery technology that would extend range, improve safety and avoid the use of cobalt.
The news item would have simply passed unnoticed except for those who recognize what Hyundai had achieved in making Korean cars a fixture in the complex and highly competitive car market of the United States and Europe and a global presence in highways and roads throughout the world. In the Philippines, it took less than a generation for Hyundai to become a top car brand along with the long-established Japanese car manufacturers that have been in the Philippines for almost half a century. The very presence of Korean cars in our roads and streets would have been unthinkable for those post-war babies with their big American cars and Japanese imports. Hyundai was a game-changer in the Philippine motor scene and its much-loved Starex vans that literally changed the way Filipino families got to go around in bunches—not in cramped car seats but with the luxury and spaciousness of sleek looking vans—both for private and public transportation needs.
In short, electric cars which have been talked about and actually marketed and bought in car markets in Europe and the United States may also be quite accessible for the motoring folks here at home. With Hyundai leading the pack and the promise of leading-edge technology fittings and accouterments that people recognized from Apple, the maker of the smartphone, I-Pad, Macs, Air Buds, etc., that have made our “electronic” lives as it were in this dawning of the 21st century. The future of motoring for our children would likely be the electric car and renewable energy driven transportation. The internal combustion engine and its carbon emissions would then be a museum piece and considered antique by the time our children have become grandparents on their own time.
Another motoring tidbit in this new year was the announcement that the Chinese car manufacturer, NIO, the electric vehicle company often called “the Tesla of China,” has beaten the original Tesla in coming up with the longest battery mileage for an EV car as it unveiled its next electric vehicle: the NIO ET7. It’s an electric sedan with a very impressive powertrain. The ET7 is equipped with a 480 kW dual-motor drivetrain, and is powered by a battery pack that can go all the way up to 150 kWh. With 150 kWh of energy capacity and an efficient-looking design, the ET7 will likely get over 500 miles of range on a single charge. By late 2022, ET7 — powered by a 150-kWh battery pack — will be rolled out and would offer a range of more than 600 miles.
On the other hand, Tesla’s long-range Model S can drive roughly 370 miles without stopping for a charge — about the distance from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Its closest electric car competitors on range, from companies such as Chevrolet, Jaguar and Nissan, can only make it about 240 miles — or a little farther than a drive from Washington, D.C., to New York City, though some individual models top out around 260. Most others are behind, barely topping 200 miles. In the global EV war: Tesla, the leading brand, now faces an Asian rival with a record 621-mile range as NIO’s ET7 electric car raises the ante in the world’s largest market.
The implication for Philippine motoring is clear — the electric car will be as attractive and as reliable as the traditional internal combustion vehicles as fears about running out of juice or power seems to be the main drawback why the EV sales have not caught up with gasoline/diesel powered transports. I think the future of motoring is a-forming right before our eyes and our children and their children’s children will probably benefit from what the future electric cars will bring.
Peachy Vibal – Guioguio is a PR strategist who has lead communications departments in GMA Network, ABS-CBN, and TV5. She enjoys long drives, taking scenic routes, and finds a thrill going wherever she pleases behind a wheel. She has yet to learn how to replace a flat tire.