Guiding leaders to greatness

Energy & utilities Environmental impact ESG

Electric Mobility: Trend or Key to a Truly Green Future?

Today, there is no lack of critical issues that are holding back the take-off of electric mobility. Here are the issues to be solved for a more sustainable tomorrow. Translated from Italian

01 June 2021 • 4 min read

We are in an era of transition, a necessary transformation of society: the current economic model, based on the logic of resource consumption, waste production and pollution and energy dependence on fossil fuels, is leading us towards a new, more sustainable future characterised by the search for solutions to the multiple environmental crises and adaptation strategies to their irreversible effects.

Mobility from a more sustainable perspective is certainly one of the most promising solutions, which will allow the country to achieve the goal of decarbonisation by maximising social, environmental and economic benefits.

Although the spread of electric vehicles is still marginal, the trend is positive: sustainability applied to mobility concerns both private vehicles and public transport, a factor that increases the possibility of impact of green culture on our society.

For several years now, NTT DATA has decided to take the field decisively in this sector because we are convinced that it represents an opportunity to improve the society in which we live and create a more promising future: from this year, confirming this commitment, NTT DATA has begun to collaborate with MOTUS-E, the first Italian association established on the impulse of the main industrial operators, the academic world and environmental and opinion associations to facilitate the transition of the national transport sector towards the massive adoption of sustainable means, through the promotion of electric mobility and related environmental benefits.

In Italy, electric mobility is certainly growing: to date, 0.25% of the cars circulating on our streets are electric, and only in 2020 there was a 4% increase in new registrations. Although the spread of electric vehicles is still marginal, the trend is positive: sustainability applied to mobility concerns both private vehicles and public transport, a factor that increases the possibility of impact of green culture on our society.

The business opportunities that are created in this area do not only concern mobility, but also IT services to improve the user experience, for example through the creation of a single application that integrates the possibility of organising travel with different means, from booking an electric car to that of a train.

Therefore, the data of the last period points to a positive trend for companies that are investing in this sector, though the road is long and there are still many critical issues to be solved for electric mobility to definitively triumph over the traditional one.

The main obstacles to the spread of electric mobility, from costs to recharging points

The main problem today is represented by the still high costs for the end user, which mean that electric cars currently remain a product that is not accessible to everyone. It is very likely, however, that with the further development of technologies related to electric motors it will be functional to the reduction of vehicle prices, consequently increasing the segment of the population able to acquire an electric vehicle.

In order for electric mobility to be effectively established, it is also essential to work on connected services, for example by creating a single national platform that allows users to know where the recharging points are.

However, the economic aspect is not the only obstacle: another big problem is represented by the lack of adequate infrastructure for electric mobility, especially for long stretches on the motorway. The number of recharging points, in fact, is still very limited and those in place are not always able to provide a quick service. In terms of distribution throughout the territory, 57% of this type of infrastructure is located in northern Italy, while in the centre and south there are only 23% and 20% of the recharging points respectively. This large gap obviously hinders the nationwide uptake of electric cars, although a recent amendment that went into effect in December 2020 provides a charging point on the motorway every 50 kilometres: certainly an important step, but not yet decisive.

In order for electric mobility to be effectively established, it is also essential to work on connected services, for example by creating a single national platform that allows users to know where the recharging points are located in the area. Today all the data is aggregated by individual operators, but there is still no reality that can offer an overall and shared vision.

It is also essential that the systems, when they exist, work perfectly: at the moment 20% of the infrastructures that can be found along the roads are not working, do not have the necessary permissions or are not connected to the network operators at all. It is clear how these problems need to be resolved for electric mobility to take a decisive step in terms of diffusion.

Future scenarios: towards increasingly smart cities

There is a strong awareness that, besides the problems listed above, electric cars and a green society represent the only way to reduce the environmental impact of our journeys. The cities of tomorrow will necessarily have to be increasingly smart and ecological, trying to lower emissions to zero.

In an urban context of this kind, it will no longer be necessary to resort to limiting the circulation of vehicles with alternating number plates or similar measures, because electric mobility would significantly reduce emissions. Many global automotive brands are already investing in electric and self-driving car technology, thus fueling a virtuous circle that benefits everyone. We go more and more towards an approach that favours the service over the product: following this logic, all sharing services – from cars, to motorcycles, through bicycles and scooters – will become more and more welcomed into the habits of citizens.

With technological development, the cost of electric cars will drop, especially as regards batteries, and this will happen in tandem with a growth in sharing services. In some large cities, historic centres could be open only to electric vehicles, able not only to recharge with zero emissions but also to sell electricity to the grid in case of need.

This scenario represents an opportunity for the whole nation. The small municipalities, where the problem of pollution is less relevant, could become the ideal context in which to experiment with this new concept of sustainable mobility, because distances are reduced and fewer charging installations for electric cars, sharing services and public transport are required.

In general, we can say that the growth of smart cities will start from small municipalities to reach large cities, where again it will be appropriate to operate with an incremental approach, district by district, to cover the entire urban territory.

In closing, the message that must be spread is that electric cars do not represent a trend of the moment, but a reality that must necessarily become customary: not only because technology goes in that direction, but also because only in this way can we preserve the environmental resources of the planet.

Energy & utilities Environmental impact ESG

Discover more in

ESG