Tesla at the charging station, image source: Shutterstock

The electric car has a tough job: After decades of praise for diesel engines, one side is reluctant to switch to the latest technology just yet. And the other side is debating their short range as if other cars were ever any different. Honestly, do you need a range of more than several hundred kilometres on a daily basis? Exactly. For most people, an electric car is already the ideal everyday vehicle: quiet, sleek, comfortable and above all, locally emission-free and therefore completely protected from driving bans in city centres. There is still one drawback, though: Most electric cars are simply too expensive, especially the cool Tesla. The good news is that’s going to change soon!

In reality, electric mobility will change the world in ways that we can’t even predict yet. Telecommunications technology did the same in the past. Just like telephones used to be for making calls only, cars are currently only used for driving. In the same way that smartphones have permeated every corner of our daily lives, the electric car of the future will revolutionise mobility. A car will be more than just a vehicle. Instead, they will become a mobility service: smart, digital and connected.

The most exciting prospect in this area is merging the energy industry together with the automotive industry

Intelligent charging technologies create the prerequisites needed to proactively integrate electric cars into the power grid. It’s a simple idea. Energy is needed everywhere people go, and their electric cars are not far away. Since cars are just sitting around for an average of 95% of the day, an electric car’s built-in battery can jump in and act as a temporary energy storage device to balance out fluctuations in the power grid. When the electrical grids are full, the electric cars will charge, absorbing the excess power. When the demand for energy increases, they release electricity. This process can also optimise energy consumption in buildings and residences. When connected intelligently, electric cars can become a service provider for the power grid. Energy won’t be produced in large power plants: instead, it will be generated and consumed locally. This supports the energy transition and means that network operators won't need to add more electrical power lines.

By trading in stored energy, an electric car can earn money. A realistic estimate would be up to 2,000 euros of turnover that a car could achieve annually as an energy provider. This means that an electric car could basically pay for itself. And another thing! Nowadays, the battery is the largest cost involved in a vehicle, about 40% of the total cost. Research is further reducing costs by continually improving energy storage performance and making used vehicle batteries useful for other applications. A Tesla in the garage will soon be cheaper than any mid-range petrol model. At some point in the future, only rich people will be able to afford to burn fuel.

A comment of Thomas Raffeiner, CEO and founder of The Mobility House, in ELO magazine.