Electric cars, are they round the corner?

Definition of inflexion point: a point on a curve that separates an arc concave upward from one concave downward and vice versa. The term inflexion point was first used by Andy Grove in his book “Only the Paranoids Survive”. An inflexion point can be there in anybody’s life on in the business cycle of the industry. It indicates the total change in the scenario or makes and break situation. The diagram showing the point of inflexion.

 Inflexion point

I visualise a significant point of inflexion in the automobile industry shortly. Different views are floating regarding when the Electric Cars will be mass produced. The year mentioned fairly regularly is 2030! That’s not really far! Why this is going to happen and whether it will happen at all will be based on many factors. Currently, the volume of Electric cars manufactured the world over is not significant. But Nissan, BMW, Ford, GM, Mahindra in a small way and of course Tesla is already making electric cars. I have heard that Toyota plans to come up with a fully electric car by 2019.

 2016electric cars predictiongraph

This is the forecast sale of electric cars as a percentage of total car sales, for the year 2016 but I could not get the real figures. Japan at 9.7% is highest in the number of total cars produced and China at 0.9% is the lowest %. France, Great Britain, Germany, USA, South Korea, Spain are there in between.

 What will give the boost? What factors are going to push this production? When will the momentum gather for the switch to mass production? When will the point of inflexion be reached? Primary factors considered in the usage of automobiles are its price, fuel cost, car driving range, parts cost and main is the cost of ownership. Besides this battery charging infrastructure is going to be the most important aspect that will make or break this change.

 Price factor for electric cars appears to be in reasonable control even without mass production. In the cost of electric cars “Engine & drive train” needs to be brought down; all other things remain the same. When Tesla started producing cars, people looked at it as Elon Musk’s fancy! Tesla is working as a start-up, but it is somehow managing to survive financially. Now they are also coming up with an affordable sedan. Slowly big giants like BMW, GM and others have woken up. The initial experiment started with Toyota’s Prius hybrid. The thinking was to just increase the fuel efficiency of the existing car system, and Prius hybrid was the first successful attempt. But it was definitely a minor change in thinking and not the game changer like fully Electric car. As per current thinking even in India, Government has increased the Tax on hybrids. When asked, the minister said, “When Electric cars are the future why bother about hybrids!” Electric cars will, of course, need Government support by way of lower taxes to make them attractive for buyers. Government support will also be needed for battery charging infrastructure.

 The second factor is the cost of fuel. With many shocks offered by Petroleum politics, the world has been looking to go away from fossil fuels. Plus the world has woken up to climate change and is aggressively looking to control pollution. Cars are known to be significant pollutants. Stringent control is being sought on exhausts from cars. But this will happen only in newer cars, old polluting cars cannot be wished away. Volvo has made a statement that the cost of manufacturing car systems to match pollution norms in 2022/23 will be so high that they will stop making diesel engines. To overcome the pollution issue, Germany has declared that by 2030 only electric cars will be manufactured in Germany. To achieve this target, they will really have to work hard, but German car makers have the technology, financial clout, will and wherewithal to achieve this target; they are working very aggressively. Best non-polluting fuel obviously is electricity. But the cost of producing electricity was a major factor hindering its usage in cars using battery banks and of course the cost of batteries. Solar and wind energy seem to be galloping ahead of other sources to make electricity cheap. The classic example is Germany. On a day in 2016, 85% of electricity produced in Germany, was from non-conventional methods.

https://energytransition.org/2016/05/germany-nearly-reached-100-percent-renewable-power-on-sunday/

With the abundance of cheap electricity, on that day the rates of electricity went in negative in tendering process! Recently, California produced 67% of electricity, on a particular day,  by non-conventional methods causing serious disruption in electricity pricing mechanism! World over including India, Solar and other non-conventional methods are very aggressively pursued. By 2030 it looks like the world will easily achieve the goal of cheap fuel in the form of electricity!

Currently, when we travel by car, we do not think how much distance we are going to travel. This is because fuel infrastructure is fully established world over. Whenever needed, we just refuel and move ahead. This is not going to be so easy, at least today, in electric cars. There are two major points. First is charging stations and second is charging time. Both need to be vastly improved. Charging time is the evolution of technology, in cell phones, rapid charging technology is already available, so maybe it’s a matter of time when we get this in car battery charging. Charging infra, of course, has to come up, but when the number of electric cars increases, the infra will come up. The range per charge is also a matter of technology, so hopefully, it will rapidly increase. Similar to what we do today while driving long distance, we should be able to stop for coffee and washroom break and get batteries recharged. Lo, we are on the way! 2030 very much possible. But my take is that this will happen faster in Europe, Japan & Korea because such things are national policies and are easier to implement in these areas because of the smaller size of the nations plus most of European nations, are developed nations.  In geographically large countries like Uthe S, Canada and China plus India, this change may happen region wise or state wise starting with highways. City limits will adopt faster as people can charge their cars in their own homes. 

 Replacement parts and cost of ownership are combination factors. In the electric cars, drive train, exhaust systems as we know them today, will simply be not there being replaced by battery packs, motors & drives. Less number of mechanical parts is going to definitely reduce the repairs and servicing cost. This factor has nothing to do with 2030. As the cost of ownership comes down, more people will be interested in driving electric cars.

 Another major change is going to be the nature automotive components industry. When major systems like drive trains & exhaust system are not needed, current manufacturers will find in a drastic reduction in parts needed by industry; over a period these will be only needed in old cars. With a mandate to supply parts for ten years, 2040 will be the last straw on the back of the Camel for this industry assuming by 2030 electric cars will be used in large numbers. How will current component manufacturers of these components handle change? Will they start making parts needed for electric cars? Do they have the technology? Only time can tell? How will Bosch’s, Conti’s, Denso’s and Valeo’s of this world handle the situation only time can tell. I am sharing one important information about the change that has already happened. Nvidia Graphics, www.nvidia.com  producing chips and cards with their GPU technology are already vendors for Toyota, Mercedes, Audi, Honda, BMW, Volvo. This is because of the rapid increase in usage of onboard computers to perform various functions, including self-driving cars. Five years back, I am not sure if Nvidia name was much known in the automotive world! Point of inflection? Yes my friends this is the point of inflection and in this business jungle, snipers in the form of technology are hiding! You never know when you will get your bullet! Yes, my conclusion,” ELECTRIC CARS ARE COMING IN A BIG WAY BY 2030”!

 

 

 

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Paranormal behavior or “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana”..

I attended one religious function recently at someone’s home. It was a Pooja, a prayer to invoke a Goddess with a request to ensure that the family remains blessed. It was the last ritual in a series of functions in that family. The ceremony was for 50-minutes. Suddenly 2/3rd of the way, a 45-year-old lady attending the Pooja, from a middle-class background and educated family, started behaving what is called in Marathi as “Angat Yene”. She suddenly went into a trance, and it appeared that she was possessed by the religious chanting that was being sung in rhythm, accompanied by instruments. I had never seen such paranormal behaviour in close quarters and not in a known person. She started swaying to the musical rhythm and later she started sweating. Other ladies present stood surrounding her so that others could not observe her fully. Then, when the music and singing stopped the lady slowly came back to normal. By normal, I mean that she went out of swaying and out of her trance. She was sweating profusely and looked very tired.

I was quite uneasy in mind and started surfing the net to look for articles explaining such events; naturally, there was not much scientific material, and probably not much scientific research has been done on the subject. Analysis may be there, but it is more about traditions or “Pratha” and not the science behind it. In one or two places I read something which indicated that people do not want to challenge the old traditions for fear of backlash. One thing I realised that this might have been “business” till last century and even today in the rural areas. It is assumed that during “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana” the Devi or Goddess’s spirit enters the body of that human being. It starts with the assumption that the Goddess physically exists! I came across one thorough article by Dr Prakash Pangu wrote about four years back. It is in Marathi so all may not be able to read it.

http://www.kattaonline.com/2013/07/how-spirit-possession-happens.html?m=1

After reading this article, I started getting some insight. I have used some references from this article, but most of the take on this subject is mine. First, let us look at the facts. This phenomena occurs in ladies and never in Men. The ladies who are affected by this can be generalised in the age group of those who have an active menstruating cycle. Phenomenon never occurs in young girls or old ladies. It was claimed that these ladies sometimes chant hymns and talk in a language other than their mother tongue, during this spell.  Some are supposed to climb coconut trees effortlessly. Dr Pangu says that he has never heard of ladies from Maharashtra speak Italian in this spell. Those who did not know swimming are not known to start swimming when they are under the spell of the Goddess! Probably they speak a language which may be known to them but is not spoken by them regularly! Maybe some of the ladies were already conversant with the skill of climbing coconut trees.  I want to share one experience with you. My cousin had a nose surgery years back. While he was coming out of Anaesthesia, he started talking a bit irrelevantly. To our surprise, he spoke in English all the time! He knows English quite well but prefers to talk with family and friends in Marathi. It appears that the effect of Anaesthesia made him speak in English. Anaesthesia and “Angat yene” appear to have the same effect on humans!

All of us get very happy and excited when we see certain events like a concert, a cricket match, or a football match. Sometimes we get overly excited and exuberant. I am sure that there is a switch in our brains which operates when our exuberance level goes beyond a certain limit. It trips or works like a fuse, at the right moment and brings us back to reality. Similarly, we react in certain ways in the event of sad things or when we are in grief! I am sure the switch is standard for both happy and sad events, and it all depends on how the brain gives a signal to this switch. In a Hindi movie Munnabhai, the hero says that there is chemical “locha” taking place in his brain. Meaning of “locha” is turmoil! This turmoil causes human beings to react in abnormal or Paranormal ways.

With this background, I am trying to understand what decides the intensity of the different behaviour? Why the energy goes above the standard tripping point? One of the reasons could be that the ladies mentioned probably are suppressed in their day to day life. Though they are educated, they are forced to suppress their natural thought process, and they live under some pressure which does not allow them to express their thoughts openly. Combination of this suppression and the brain switch not tripping correctly, probably causes this problem of Paranormal behaviour.

Lack of knowledge and blind faith is a deadly combination. In olden days when the “ParaNormal” behaviour started, people must have been surprised initially with this occurrence. But later on, some smart people decided to take advantage of this scenario and got control over people! They started telling people the Devi had entered the body of the lady! They glorified the event and started taking advantage of the situation. It was a Win-Win situation where the ladies could come out of their suppression, cunning people around got control over surrounding people and created a fear psychosis. Maybe the people started giving offerings or alms to the “Goddess” within the lady!

This phenomenon was never analysed scientifically, but slowly this may change. Probably some German or American scholar, who has no Hindutva baggage to carry, will be able to interpret the event correctly. Another explanation of this type of activity is that like psychosomatic illnesses, where people get the symptoms, the paranormal behaviour does make bodily changes like change in blood pressure or profuse sweating and so on. So what we see is happening, but the reasons for this event are psychological. Post this event; the person is physically as well as emotionally drained. Hence the general population tends to believe what is happening is rational and correct. It is true but not reasonable; it is paranormal. There is a weakness of mind within these ladies which affects them to such an extent that the “Angat Yene” process is kicked off!

Friends, I have tried to understand the so-called religious tradition. My take is that the even today nobody is seriously trying to understand or analyse. Such so-called traditions are not suitable for society and need to be abolished. It is a grave matter and suppressed women folk should be helped to overcome their inhibitions and their problems. Is it not some sort of exploitation that society is doing? Your take, please.