EVs Make for a Sustainable Digital Mobility Ecosystem

From digital benefits and efficiency to considering the risks of integration, the EV is fast becoming a key component of a sustainable mobility ecosystem

The digital ecosystem is rapidly embedding itself into our lives, leaving no corner untouched by intelligent technologies. While this may seem somewhat daunting to some, businesses are able to create new channels towards sustainability and leverage a raft of insights shared between devices to determine patterns and trends among their users. 

Before long, vehicles also entered the digital ecosystem and are becoming more intelligent by the day. The reduced technical barriers between cars and devices is also enabling more entrants into the market and further integrations of digital systems to reduce the impact of mobility. 

While fascinating to see the technological triumphs taking place, vehicles and other digital products have become enablers of a sustainable future, but we’re here to focus on how connectivity plays a role in achieving this. Therefore, we spoke to John Wall, Senior Vice President and Head of Blackberry QNX, and Tarun Shome, Product Management Director at Blackberry IVY.

The complexity of vehicles as IoT endpoints 

Firstly, we turn to the experts to describe the current automotive landscape and how technology fits into the equation. Wall highlights the complexity of the vehicles today that are becoming the most intelligent endpoint device that we’ve ever seen. 

“With the complexity of vehicles and the variety of manufacturers comes a plethora of different developers, architectures, and software stacks,” says Wall as he outlines the diversity of the industry today. “The car will soon become the most complex IoT endpoint there is, generating the largest amount of data with the largest number of sensors.” 

However, it seems that, much like corporations ‘speaking different languages’ when it comes to sustainability, digital devices and cars often do the same, which is where business and cities must align to achieve the most efficient outcomes—i.e. put infrastructure systems in place for cars that support various communication methods. 

“The problem today is that cars are all talking a different language. And with smart cities on the horizon, connecting physical and digital worlds will only be achieved when all sensors and systems can communicate,” says Wall.

“Partnerships between like-minded automotive software providers, as well as with governments, will be essential to enable a smart, connected future. This collaboration and shared vision will effectively normalise data, creating a standardised way for vehicles to communicate with each other, smart cities, and the world around them.” 

EVs lift the burden of fossil fuels

Of course, when we look at the case of EVs, the overwhelming need to cut out fossil fuels from global energy supply creates a compelling argument for new-energy vehicles, but we’d also argue that such solutions wouldn’t last without input of connectivity and digital solutions.

Many drivers are already sceptical of using electric cars due to a lack of charging points—the result being a delay in meeting net-zero emissions targets. However, with many solutions out there in the market and the majority of drivers barely travelling far enough to warrant charging at public stations with the highest rates, data can shed light on the true cost of EV ownership. 

As Shome explains, automotive companies can play a role in passively influencing EV drivers and their routines, by sharing more insights between their vehicles and digital devices. Put information right in front of them and they might just understand more about their habits, and the impact of those habits. 

“Manufacturers can help by enhancing in-vehicle connectivity and providing more meaningful insights to drivers,” says Shome. “Then, the vehicles themselves would enable drivers to accurately find their nearest public chargers (along with charging capabilities) or suggest changes in driving style to save power until the next charging point. This is key to reducing range anxiety, which remains the main barrier to mainstream adoption of more sustainable transport.” 

Not only could this maintain a positive trajectory towards negative climate impact, but economically will be the driving factor and differentiator between ICE cars and EVs. As Shome explains: “Many customers maintain that it’s risky to use an electric car when charging points are few and far between. Sales could plateau if consumers decide to wait for the infrastructure, leaving us further behind on net-zero goals.”

Do customers have the right to be concerned? 

With any digitally driven solutions comes one crucial element of the conversation—the risk to the customer. Data is a hot commodity and continuously under threat, albeit in a world where cybersecurity is much more advanced. EVs are no exception to the risks that surround phones, tablets, laptops and other digital systems that share information, putting them at some level of risk when connected to the digital ecosystem. 

“As every part of our lives becomes more software-defined, our cars are no exception,” says Wall. “The past decade of automotive developments has hinged on vehicle, driver, and sensor data, to increasingly sophisticated ends. Now, with our cars creating and sharing more data points than ever before, scrutiny increases.” 

Based on this response, and the overall feeling we get from Wall and Shome, the digital ecosystem welcomes EVs, and vice versa, from a sustainability perspective. More efficiency will be gained from integrating these solutions into the mobility systems, which encompasses all transport modes. 

The focus for the future is on onboarding the necessary services to connect vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure, sharing more data with drivers to educate them on ways to reduce their energy consumption, but this is not risk-free. EVs will gain the same treatment as other devices in the ecosystem.

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