The grassroots electric vehicle revolution
Occupy Cars is working on an open source electromobility platform which enables easy and economical conversion of gas and diesel cars to electric. In this article we would like to explain our motivation and why we think a revolution is necessary.
How we roll
We live in an automobile world. The consequences are quite stark. When you think about society and cars, you quickly notice that the whole world is designed around cars. We easily forget that, as we are so used to it. Driving around in a car is the single most energy intensive thing you normally do in your daily lives. Even more energy intensive is the whole infrastructure employed to build and feed the cars. Hundreds of mining and smelting operations, thousands of suppliers and factories, logistics operations etc. It’s an incredibly complex web of energy and resource interactions, all running on fossil fuels.
15–20 % of greenhouse gas emissions stem from the running cars alone, not including the whole infrastructure keeping them running and producing them. Car related air pollution is killing thousands if not millions of people globally every year (400.000 in the EU alone).
If we could change cars, and turn the global fleet to electric that would be a great improvement. In contrast to ICE cars which are around 20–30% energy efficient, electric cars show energy efficiencies above 90%. We can power electric cars with 100% renewable energy. The combination of batteries buffering renewable energy and battery-powered electric vehicles would solve a huge part of global warming.
The point is that with the global car manufacturing capacities available today, it would still take 30–40 years to replace the global fleet of nearly 2 Billion cars. This is way too much time. We don’t have it.
Furthermore, the number of resources and energy needed, hence the greenhouse gasses emitted to produce all these electric cars is enormous. We should try everything possible to reduce this ecological burden in order to not ridicule the potential of electric vehicles entirely.
Electric vehicles are also way too expensive. The world consists not only of rich, westernized countries but mostly of low income developing nations. They need different solutions. We win nothing riding around in our Model3’s, Leafs and ID’s when the rest of the world guzzles around in our old diesel and gasoline vehicles.
And there is another caveat with the conventional plan of building the whole car fleet again on the premises of classical economical modeling: we might not have enough cheap energy to do it. As the price of producing usable energy increases (https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/the-new-economic-science-of-capitalisms-slow-burn-energy-collapse-d07344fab6be), it will be increasingly hard to do business as usual. We are about to embark into an age where we will be forced to use drastically less energy than we are used to.
The most compelling solution to battle all these problems is not to produce new products, but to transform already existing items and infrastructure and upgrade them into future proof and more sustainable things.
A grassroots solution
In terms of cars, we can nurture a grassroots electric vehicle revolution, which converts combustion engine cars to electric. Most cars on the streets today are generally suitable for an electric conversion. Those cars would probably not break mileage records on a single charge but could work totally sufficient to serve the daily needs of the average daily driver. Later on, they can be upgraded for more mileage as battery tech improves.
All of these cars have already been built. The conversion is a drop on a hot stone, compared to the tantalus task of building billions of new electric cars.
In order to make the conversions as cheap and sustainable as possible, the entire system of components and processes should be open-source. It would allow thousands of manufacturers around the globe to produce these components locally. It would spur economic growth from the bottom and would allow local car businesses to thrive again.
An open-source, grassroots electric vehicle and energy revolution would also create, and save a lot of peoples work who already hustle in the automobile sector and are bound to be replaced by the new digital business models of the car giants, moving most of sales and service back in-house. The fear that electric vehicles would kill jobs because of their lower complexity and lower maintenance requirements could be remedied by such a movement. All the garages and car workshops could join in the process of converting the vehicles. Local manufacturers and machine shops could join in producing the parts.
A giant web of economic and electrical activity would be created.
We have the chance to turn one of the biggest burdens of our times into a success story of collective intelligence. Let’s evolve into a smarter, more sustainable future together! Let’s occupy all the cars and convert them into awesome electric vehicles!