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When it comes to getting from A to B the future is electric. Transport accounts for 15 per cent of all global emissions, but governments are introducing stricter limits on pollution, and electric cars, taxis and buses are already starting to replace the internal combustion engine. Production of new models of electric vehicle is increasing to meet demand. Manufacturers are working to increase range with better battery technology, and the global charging infrastructure market is forecast to be worth $40bn a year by 2030.
But access in some areas is limited, and the high cost of initial investments and maintenance could slow progress. Meanwhile, average traffic speed in big cities has plummeted. Before the coronavirus pandemic it was as low as seven miles per hour in central London. Motorists can waste hundreds of hours a year.
One solution is e-scooters, bikes, and skateboards. They were already growing in popularity before coronavirus, and that trend could continue as lockdowns ease. Commuters, wary of public transport will be looking for alternatives. In the UK, it was illegal to ride e-scooters on public roads and pavements, but the pandemic has focused minds, and rental e-scooters will now be trialled.
Autonomous electric vehicles will also play a part. In tomorrow's smart cities, transport infrastructure will interact more closely with transportation. Traffic lights will respond in real time to changes in traffic flow to curb congestion and pollution, and companies such as Uber and German start-up Lilium are betting that one day electric flying taxis will take to the skies. Concept vehicles are already being tested. Lilium has ambitions to have its flying taxis in service in just five years. Uber reckons it could have unmanned air taxis in the skies by 2030. But there are lots of unanswered questions over safety, cost, and regulation. The main question is just how far electric will take us.