Did you know that gasoline-powered cars were not the only ones around when the first car prototypes reached the market?
In 1900, the automobiles market was negligible, counting fewer than 15,000 cars. Given no time-tested designs, hundreds of car ventures took on a mission to create a car for the masses. As suggested above, the gasoline-powered engine was not an obvious winner at the time. At one point, electric-powered vehicles represented a third of all cars on US roads. Similarly, since the steam engine worked well in propelling trains and boats, it was seen by many as the most logical energy source for a car. In early 20th century, there were more than a hundred makers of steam-powered cars, the most successful being Stanley Steamer, reaching an impressive speed of 127 miles per hour.
Why did gasoline-powered cars come on top? Electric-powered cars couldn’t go far without a recharge and steam-powered cars took longer to heat up. Furthermore, gasoline-powered car ventures were the first to invest heavily in mass-production techniques, cutting down the cost and time of manufacturing.
Today we find ourselves at a historical inflexion point. The energy source that powers our vehicles must go through fundamental changes to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change, as highlighted in the Paris Agreement.
With alternative fuels such as biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas, and propane leading the charge, which energy source do you expect to go mainstream?
- Could we expect multiple alternative fuel options going mainstream?
- Which market players do you expect to lead the energy revolution (e.g. raw materials producers, infrastructure providers, software enablers, car & parts manufacturers)?