The electrification of the transportation space is hugely important for reducing emissions, and one company heavily involved in this process is Siemens as a supplier to many of the main car manufacturers.
I reached out to Ed Bernardon, Vice President, Strategic Automotive Initiatives Siemens Digital Industries Software to invite him to come on the podcast. Ed is a fellow podcaster. He has a podcast called The Future Car Podcast with Ed Bernardon - you should check it out.
We had a wonderful conversation covering everything from how autonomous tractors can save Monarch butterflies, to changing urban design implications of electric vehicles, and what's coming next.
I learned loads as always, and I hope you do too.
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He ended up with an electric tractor, which can run day and night cause it's not very loud, which is a really good thing. But there you now have to have charging infrastructure and all that on your farm so it's a little bit costly. But by making it autonomous, you can have one operator run eight of these tractors at a time. So now the cost has come down.Tom Raftery:
Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the climate 21 podcast. The number one podcast, showcasing best practices in climate emission reductions. And I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Don't forget to click follow on this podcast in your podcast app of choice, to be sure you don't miss any episodes. Hi everyone. Welcome to the Climate 21 Podcast. My name is Tom Raftery, and with me on the show today, I have my special guest, Ed. Ed. Welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?Ed Bernardon:
Hi Tom. Thanks for having me. I'm Ed Bernardon. I'm the the VP of Strategic Automotive Initiatives at Siemens. And I actually came to Siemens through an acquisition of a startup that I founded along with three other people. And our startup was actually related to designing software creating software for designing with lightweight materials like carbon fiber and that type of thing. So we got a lot of experience working with aerospace companies, car companies, anytime you wanted something lightweight and high performance. But we built it to about 80 people or so. And then Siemens acquired us. And at that point, certainly we continue to work with the, with the Lightweighting software and that type of thing. But we've also become a group that works on special projects. And as part of that, as you well know, Siemens is a really, really big company with all sorts of capabilities and I work a lot in the area of transportation and looking at how to combine things from the different divisions of Siemens, so our division that does software in combination, say with Siemens mobility or Siemens energy. So I do a lot of work in special projects related to electric and autonomous vehicles.Tom Raftery:
Fabulous. Interesting. And the whole electrification of transportation is a really, really big topic now. It's, you know, it was, it was something that people, let's say 10 years ago thought never happen, and now it's the EU and California have passed legislation saying that all vehicles sold in the EU and or in California from 2035 on, they've gotta be zero emissions vehicles. And the, the only real way to deliver that right now at least, is through the electrification of transportation. So this is a, an exciting time. What are you seeing in that space?Ed Bernardon:
Well, like you say, if, if you go back 10 years there weren't very many electric cars out there you could even choose from probably getting less than a hundred miles a hundred mile range. And now that's 3, 4, 5 times that even on on, some vehicles. So a lot of progress has been made. A lot of talk about additional progress with batteries, like solid state batteries, things in that area. But I also think there's o other dimensions to how things are starting to change, and you are actually seeing that now. When we say electrification, certainly there's electrification of the vehicles that we drive, like we drive right now, day-to-day, personally owned vehicles. But you're also seeing e-bikes, scooters. And electrification is really a combination of all those things and how they're gonna work together.Tom Raftery:
Yeah, and it, it even goes beyond that again because just in the last couple of days Tesla have started delivering or showcasing at least the first of their Tesla semis. So big 18 wheelers capable of carrying full loads for 500 miles on a single charge. And I mean, that's gotta really change the industry, right?Ed Bernardon:
Well, absolutely it's, and I think a lot of industries are gonna be actually impacted by this. Trucking is actually an interesting one, certainly from an electrification standpoint and even from an autonomy standpoint. And those two things I think go hand in hand to some extent because one, one big reluctance to electric vehicles is always range. Of course. Right? And, and that's getting better. Cost is anotherTom Raftery:
And. If you can combine electric vehicles with autonomy, say, and trucking is a great example of that, then you can reduce, you can reduce the cost, but less reliance on labor. So for trucks, even if it's not fully autonomous, but the ability to platoon trucks, say where you have a human driver in the first one and then you have five, six trucks behind it that are using autonomous technology to follow all being electric. The cost of operating that platoon would be much less. And as costs come down, then electric vehicles would be more acceptable than certainly the, an application like trucking is, is a great example there.Tom Raftery:
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And it's gotta make a huge difference. I know it's not gonna happen overnight, but this whole shift to the electrification and transportation of all modes, as you pointed out, has gotta make a huge difference to our city scapes, right?Ed Bernardon:
Oh, absolutely. Well imagine if, if you could pick from a variety of transportation modes and really just start with that. So maybe you get into the city on an electric train. now you're there. What's next? Well, maybe you pick up a shuttle, it takes you somewhere. Maybe you rent an e-bike or a scooter. And, and we're seeing that already. So there's a combination of all these different types of vehicles and. Well, how do you accommodate that? Well, you have to have charging stations. You have to start playing around with lanes. You have a dedicated lane for bicycles and scooters and take away from cars. Oh, now traffic goes up. So you have to start thinking about all these pieces together. So there's the physical infrastructure of the streets themselves. But you know when you take from one and you give to the other, like you said, like the example I just gave, you have an increase in traffic. Well, what can you do about reducing traffic? Well then maybe you start banning cars. Congestion charging. Now nobody likes congestion charging, of course, but maybe you can be smart about it and instead of banning completely, you might have tolls that are not, say related to the distance you travel or the amount of time you're somewhere, but maybe the amount of time and the space that you take up. So one person in an S U V would pay a lot more than someone that takes just a half a square meter in a little scooter or something like that. But I think all these pieces do come together and ultimately, as the vehicles evolve, so does the infrastructure in the city. And then to layer on top of all this is how do you even pick what you wanna do. You pick up your phone and you wanna go with an Uber or a Lyft. You want to go from A to B. A driver comes, you look at the rating of the driver and all that, and they take you there. Well, now it's going to be a combination. Could be of the electric train, public transport, a train, a subway a shuttle an e-bike, a scooter. What combination is best? Well, do you want the least amount of time? Do you want the least amount of emissions? Maybe you don't care about time and you'd like to pick up a couple of you know, sites along the way, or maybe you want to share your ride with people that have, topics that you'd like to discuss. Who knows, there's a lot of possibilities here and I think that all fits in. I guess there's many different layers to infrastructure, physical, the software that's over the whole experience, I think is something you're start to see evolve along with this mix of vehicles that are probably going to be ultimately sharing our streets.Tom Raftery:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I have classes in the city center of Seville, two mornings a weekat 9:
00 AM and if I were to try and drive in there to get there for 9:00 AM I'd need to leave around seven 30 and I don't live that far outside of Seville. However, I can comfortably leave my home at eight 20. On a little electric scooter, take the scooter to the nearest metro station, which is about, half a mile away, about 700 meters. Get on the Metro with the scooter. The metro takes 10 minutes to get into the city center. Costs me a Euro, Euro 50, probably get outta the metro, get on the scooter again, and go to my class. And I'm there typically at 10 to 9. So I'm there with a few minutes to spare. For the cost of one Euro 50 each way and all electric, cuz the metro is fully electric. And when I get off the metro and I go up Avenida de la Constitucion in Seville, it's a Pedestrianized street with an electric tram going along it and a, specified lane for cyclists and scooters. You know, it has changed the face of the city enormously. There's less cars. Well, there's no cars in Constitution because it's, it's pedestrianized completely. It's right beside the big cathedral in Seville, which has just been cleaned from, decades of cars going past it. And now it's pedestrianized all the area around it and it's clean and it's beautiful. There's less noise, there's better air quality, it's so much better for everybody, right? I mean, and this kind of thing is starting to be mirrored in other cities as well. We saw Anne Hidalgo, who is the mayor of Paris, has, you know, taken a lot of the traffic out of Paris as well, and has made it more bike friendly. Seville. When I moved here in 2008, they started deploying bike lanes and bike sharing schemes, and the bike lanes in Seville are physically separate from the the roads. If you wanted, if you were driving in a car and you wanted to hit someone in a bike lane, you'd destroy your car trying to hit them. And that makes it incredibly safe. And it means that parents don't have to worry about going out on a cycling trip with their kids. It makes it, I think, so much better for everybody.Ed Bernardon:
You give a really great example of the mix of, of all these different transportation modes and the ability to experience the beautiful city center.Tom Raftery:
And we have a project together with the Siemens mobility division. Where we're combining traffic simulation tools with simulation tools for autonomous vehicles and this and that. But we have two pilots, one in Bogota, Columbia, and another one in Singapore. And the goal of the project in Bogota was to get people to be able to access the city centre. And, and enjoy it. And so, well, what, what can we do? Right? And so you, you have these traffic simulation tools and of course we can simulate advanced technologies and figure out where to place charging stations. But first, let's just look at some basic things that are out there and. It was exactly what you just said when, when we were setting up these projects, everyone was interested in how can we handle more scooters, e-bikes, bicycles, and all that, make it safe and not hurt traffic too much. That's, that's sort of the basics. And when we started looking at traffic flow, some really simple things started to show up. The first one was that the major cause of traffic during rush hour in this historic center of Bogota was trucks being parked near traffic lights. And now you could park them away from the traffic lights and there was still, it would hurt traffic a little bit, but not so much when they were around. So, ah, let's get rid of those trucks first, and then we did that. Okay, now, Listen, should we do a bike lane? Should the bike lane be for bicycles and motorcycles? Should we limit them to 20 miles per hour or not? And there's all sorts of different combinations. Oh, maybe we let cars go in the bike lane, but the cars can only go 20 miles per hour. And then there's other things you can do. Instead of having just like bike lanes, you can also have areas in front of stop lights where just bicycles or just motorcycles can stop. Anyways, there's all these combinations. And no matter what we would do it would seem that you would always hurt someone. In other words, if you, if you made the bike lanes bigger or whatever, then traffic got worse. But, but there was one thing that showed up that was really, really surprising, which was if you had an area in front of the stop, where motorcycles only could stop and motorcycles can accelerate really quickly. The traffic flow got better for everyone.Tom Raftery:
And I think that, oh wow. So now we've improved traffic, let's call it 5% travel time through this. Now you start saying, wow, this is really interesting. What could we do now to incentivize people to drive less in the cars and more? Be it an e-bike or whatever it might be, or maybe it is motorcycles, I mean, e-bike and motorcycles. There's probably starting to be a gray areaTom Raftery:
and, and in fact, something like 40% of motorbike sales globally now are electric motorbikes.Ed Bernardon:
Yeah. I don't know what the official definition is. When a, an e-bike becomes a, there must be a speed I don't know if it's. 40 kilometers per hour or something like, but most e-bikes can, can get well over 40 kilometers or 25 miles per hour. They can be pretty dangerous or efficient, however you wanna look at it, depending on which side of the fence you're on.Tom Raftery:
And we've seen for decades and decades, the role that Formula One racing has played in the improvement of normal internal combustion engine cars. We've then got the Formula E for electric vehicles. Do you see that as contributing as well to the improvements that we're seeing in electric vehicles?Ed Bernardon:
Well, I grew up in Indianapolis where the Indianapolis 500 is. So racing for me is, you know, always a special place in my heart. And, and the one thing I always think of is the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. All the drivers had a mechanic with them cuz the cars couldn't even get around to two and a half miles. And so, but one driver, actually the winner, Ray Haroon had a rear view mirror the first time a rear view mirror was ever usedTom Raftery:
No, serious?Ed Bernardon:
Yeah, it was at, and that's 1911. So he was, he was able to s the mechanic would also be a rear view mirror for all the other drivers. So, anyways, that's really probably the first example and there's many, many more. And I think that racing in the past three, four years has been looked less favorably because of, oh my goodness, there's all. Internal combustion engines and things like that polluting the air. And, and so they have all these series. Formula one is a great example. They do have energy recovery systems in their cars. And every four years every new rules come out. So in 22, we had new rules This year you'll see a lot of change as they go from to the new rules in 26 and eventually, In 2030 where Formula One will probably be a hundred percent carbon free or a hundred percent sustainable. Will that be an electric drive train? Probably. Could there be hydrogen running in an internal combustion engine? That's a possibility too. But it's definitely going in, in that direction so they see for survival. And I think that what you mentioned Formula E. Extreme E, which is uh, electric SUVs Racing in climate challenge areas are all examples of what racing is trying to do. And Alejandro Agag, which I think was a guest on yourTom Raftery:
He was, he was on the podcast last year. That's right.Ed Bernardon:
Yeah. And he was also I have a podcast future Car podcast he was on, he was on ours as well. And he's the pioneer here. He has a, a, a contract for electric racing till 2040 with the F I a, which is the sanctioning body. And so I, I think you're gonna at see, well, you're already seeing one, the vehicles themselves, but you have to think about racing. There's a lot of equipment. I dunno if you've ever been to a Formula One race.Tom Raftery:
at the Formula E finale in 2019 in Brooklyn. But I was never, and I was down in the pits but I, I was never at a Formula one.Ed Bernardon:
Well, so the fact that you were down in the pits and you saw all the equipment for changing tires, whatever it might be, the computers for taking data. All that gets packed up. And what there's, you know, more than 20 races now in Formula One, so you're gonna move it from Australia to Japan to Brazil. You know, they try and group them together a little bit, but you know, Montreal is in June and then they go back to Europe and then they come back to the United States and Texas and Mexico. So a lot of emissions when you move this around. So there right now, a a lot of the focus to become zero carbon by 2030 for the f i a and certainly Formula One in their series is to figure out how to make the whole thing all the infrastructure and the cars themselves more carbon neutral. And I think, racing is very good at innovating. We do a lot of work with our software, like I mentioned, with design, with carbon fiber, with the Formula One teams, and you go to these facilities and one of the teams we sponsor is Alpine. It's a Renault team. And as they took a tour of the facilities, we went into this one place where they make the boxes where they put the equipment in, and they were very proud of the fact that they had designed them to take up all the space that they could in a 7 47, and the boxes themselves were made up of such lightweight material. So there's yeah, I, think racing, now sees that their focus has to change and they're very comfortable with being in a technology leadership position. So I think you're gonna see a lot of new technology coming from racing and, and in fact, you already have from Formula E, especially in areas like battery management, 800 volt systems, things like that.Tom Raftery:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And what about the software that's involved? I mean, you're leading a software group. How is that impacting on the electric mobility?Ed Bernardon:
Well, there's the software that's in the vehicles themselves, and then there's actually the software that's involved in design. I think we, we looking at the racing, I think the software for battery management and that type of thing, that's not something that we provide, but there's certainly a lot of advancements that go on in there and how to best use the batteries. From our standpoint, the software we create is actually for the engineering of the vehicles. And here's where I think there's a big I guess you could say there's certainly a technology change, which actually drives a cultural change in how engineers work together. And if you think about cars, fundamentally for the last 80 years or so, 80 to a hundred, they haven't really changed. We've got an internal combustion engine driving. Two wheel, four wheel drive car, whatever it might be. And although there were electric cars very earlyTom Raftery:
That's right.Ed Bernardon:
it, it's gone back. And what ends up happening over time is you gain experience and this experience makes it a lot easier to do engineering. So the people that design the engines and the drive trains, the transmissions, the drive lines, whatever it might be, they know that generally the engine fits here and it's gonna be about this heavy. And the people that design the car body, they have to interact. But the interaction. Is much, much less because of this experience that's been built up on the coupling of these systems than you have now with electric vehicles.Tom Raftery:
So here's where I think engineering is changing because of the change in technology. So if you're designing a car body, For an electric car, you have all the standard problems that car designers have always had, which is, Hey, I gotta fit the seats in here. And nowadays all sorts of options. People want more and more options and big screens and whatever it might be. And now all of a sudden these people from the battery team are saying, powertrain team are saying, Hey, I've got 800 pounds of batteries I want you to put in here. To the uh, car body designer that's just another component, like a B pillar or a b pillar would be like the beam that goes between the front doors and the back doors. Well, there's not very many components on a car that weigh 800 pounds and, and they're not necess. And the battery box that has all these you know, the battery cells and them in the modules aren't really the shape that you would optimize for getting the strength and the stiffness that you want. So now you have the powertrain group says, oh, we need to get more range, so we need more volume and we need more weight cuz we wanna put more batteries in. The body group is saying, well wait a minute, I can't put any more weight in here cuz range is gonna go down. I gotta stuff all these car seats and everything else. And, and by the way, when you add more batteries and you have to raise the car seat up, now the head of the largest person you wanna build the car for, so on and on and on, it's a packaging problem and all this. So you have the mentality of mechanical engineers on one side and on the other side. Now you've got electrical. Maybe chemical engineers, even when it comes to the batteries, they think differently. And since you don't have this 80 years of experience, they're forced to collaborate. And I think what you end up having is. Well, how do you, put these teams together? And I think companies experiment. You know, car companies experiment with different things. They might say, well, let's have 'em cohabitate together while they're working. Or we'll take the chief of body and put them in charge of batteries. And the chief of batteries in charge of, of body, on and on and on and from a software standpoint is suddenly. Where you used to have this vehicle that was primarily mechanical.Tom Raftery:
Now It's still mechanical, cuz in the end it's physical and you have to get into it. But you have electrical, the battery systems, electronics, and of course software. And they're all coupled together. They're there's a major automotive manufacturer from the uk. It was actually Jaguar. And they said when they bring engineers in, if you're mechanical, they make you take a course in electrical designer cars and software and vice versa, right? So you get the other three. So at least you need a common language. If we don't have a common language, how can we speak? And, and I think sometimes we take it for granted that, oh, well engineers are all engineers. you know, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers we all have our, our different experiences and don't necessarily understand the problems, especially in a new domain like electric vehicles, where now you're bringing these new components together that never really been done, never been together before.Tom Raftery:
Yeah, and you've got this kind of weird transition phase we're going through where you have vehicles like the Volkswagen Golf, which is available in a petrol version, a diesel version and a fully electric version, although they're, they're discontinuing the electric golf now, but also you've got other ones as well, like the Hyundai Kona, the Kia Niro. Also available in petrol, in hybrid or plug-in hybrid and full electric. Designing a vehicle which can take the different drive trains has got to be, a, a huge series ofEd Bernardon:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're, you're looking like a common platform that can support three different types of, of vehicles,Tom Raftery:
Yeah. Yeah. That, I mean, you, you, you gotta make so many compromises no, in designing something like that?Ed Bernardon:
Well, you know, I, I, I'll remember back to grad school and I took this one course. It was, is more of a conceptual design course, and, and the professor said this was his theory. He called it an axiom of design. He says a couple design is never optimal. You want to design for a specific thing. And the example he would always give was, oh, I'm gonna design a light bulb that heats things. Oh, okay. So you wanna make light and you wanna make heat? Well, if I increase the light, I increase the heat. Oh, wait a minute. I want more. I want more light, but I don't want more heat. So if you decouple those, it's an easier design and you could apply that principle here as well. So if you design an electric car from the ground up, the frame and the shape, the number of cross beams to support it or maybe you don't even want cross beams because if those are on top of the batteries, these beams, it's gonna raise the seats up on and on and on. And you know, if, if you look at, especially early on in electric vehicles, if you looked at the battery boxes for cars that were a mix here, that were a multi drivetrain platform, We're used to seeing now and like Tesla's a great example, they nice little boxes, nice and flat fits right in between the two beams on the side of the car. Well, and there's still some cars like this in this mixed platform mode. The, battery box sorta undulates, it goes up under the seat, then it goes down again, then it undulates back up because you're sort of trying to fit it in there, but you wanna keep the structure underneath how, how the car is stiffened and supported. More similar between the two. So yes, I think where we are now, you're going to see designs like this for a while because there is an advantage to the multiplatform across the drive frame, which is efficiency, say in manufacturer or in components. So there's a lot of shared comp. Certainly all the body on the outsides almost ex it is probably exactly theTom Raftery:
exactly the same. Yeah, yeah, yeah. . Ed Bernardon: it just goes back There's our cost in in buying a car, but also their cost in keeping that price down. But yet there's still a lot of people that aren't confident enough. Be it range or whatever it might be to buy an electric car. So they have to hedge their bets a little bit. Although, you know, the, the OEMs that are out there now, we're certainly talking the game of switching over to electric vehicles as, as quickly as they can. But the market will ultimately dictate to a great extent. So the eternal combustion engine's going to be here at least for a while because people want them. Yeah, but like I said, with the legislation in Europe and California and there's a couple of other places as well. If I was a a big oem now would I be investing? R and D money into developing a new internal combustion engine vehicle, which I might be able to bring to market in five years from now, which would mean that would be 2027, which would mean I could sell it for seven, eight years max.Ed Bernardon:
Absolutely not. It would, it wouldn't make any sense. And it, but that's a, that's an excellent point because right now you have a platform that can handle an internal combustion engine and in four years, right. The one, the cars are coming out in 27. You're developing electric vehicles now. Well, do I just throw this platform away? Well, I still have demand for the intro, and I think that's what ends up driving them, at least currently to these, if you want to call it a, a mixed platform type thing. But you, you see out there in General Motors is a great example. They show, here's the platform we're gonna use for electric vehicles, and there'll be a battery, there'll be a drive, train for the front wheels, one for the back, and then a battery box in the middle that can change shape, depending if it's a truck or a car and all that kind of thing. And that's what's being worked on now for 27 and 30 and and beyond. But, but it's a transition, right? You can't just suddenly do that. I mean, it ultimately comes down to a lot of the things that we've been talking about is the more you can create demand from the consumer to want these vehicles, then the sooner it's gonna happen, and the sooner those engineers will learn how to collaborate a little bit better so that they can get these things out sooner.Tom Raftery:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And we're seeing phenomenal improvements in the battery technology as well. I remember a, a, a great example I, I, I came across was the, the Renault, Zoe. And the Renault Zoe. I don't think it's available in the us. It's a small town car. Little four-seater. Great for running around town. When it first came out, I think it was in 2012, it had a range of about 150 kilometers, and then they brought out a new version in around 20 15, 20 16, and that had a range of about 250 kilometers. And then they brought out a new version again in around 2020, and that had a range of 400 kilometers. And so you see there the improvement from 150 to 250 to 400, and what really impresses me about that is not alone did the range increase that much in such a short space of time, but also the price stayed roughly the same and also the housing for the battery stayed exactly the same, so the same battery housing, capable of housing batteries, which could initially take the car 150, then 250, then 400 kilometers. So it, it's not just the price has come down a lot, but also the battery energy density has gone up in the same time. It's unbelievable to see the progress that have made in such a short space of time.Ed Bernardon:
If you were to take that progress and look at it, well, where could we be in five or 10 years? How, how often do you charge your, your smartphone? Well, it depends how much you use it, I guess. But it could be it. Why not a thousand miles range or 2000? Why don't you charge it three or four times a year as battery technology advances? Those are the types of things you're gonna start to see. And then you, you'll be thinking of this in a completely different way if you're truly charging, you know, at home three or four times a year. Oh, and there are no, you know, the number of internal combustion engine cars has gone way down. What do you do with all the space where the gas stations are that type of thing? It it, it'll start to truly back to what you were saying is how will the infrastructure in cities transform?Tom Raftery:
Yeah, absolutely. It's, it opens up, a lot of possibilities. There was a, on our podcast we had a company I had the c e o Will Grayland of Indigo Technology, and he's building these little three wheel electric cars. So bigger than a scooter or a motorcycle, but smaller than a shuttle.Tom Raftery:
Perfect for deliveries.Ed Bernardon:
Exactly, exactly. Delivering people or could be boxes or whatever. And he did a couple of things. His first, his idea is his, his motto is, why do you need a a 4,000 pound car to deliver a sandwich? and sometimes that's exactly what they're delivering. Or a pizza. So, the thing is we want to maximize space in the vehicle and reduce weight and one of the things he did for that was he took the drive, train and put it inside the wheel. So wheel motors, you've heard of wheel motors for electric cars. But he did go one step further, which is. Also the suspension is outside of the car body, very close to the wheel, and it's an active suspension, and that's very, very important because when you get a smaller vehicle like that, it'll tend to bounce around. You hit a bump and it, it, it'll actually could even become airborne if you're, if you're going fast enough. With an active suspension, which means that you're you're changing the stiffness of, of the spring and the dampening, which, you know, the, the amount of residual bouncing that you get. He could make that little teeny vehicle ride like a, like a luxury car. And the idea is, you know, how you see the scooters all lined up along the road or the E-bikes. His thought is that these would be perfect for the gig economy. In order for you to be an Uber or Lyft driver, you have to own a car and handle all of the expenses that go along with it. Well, for the gig economy, the Indigo would be a vehicle you could borrow for three hours in, deliver sandwiches or whatever. You know, be an Uber driver, whatever you wanna call it makes it a lot easier. The threshold of, of of becoming a driver in, in this, in the gig economy, than. Since you wouldn't really have to own, own the vehicle yourself.Tom Raftery:
Mm. And that, that raises an interesting point because we've talked a lot about personal transportation and deliveries and things like that, but we haven't mentioned fleets. and I think the fleets, because if you're a fleet manager, the, the things you care about most are maintenance and cost, and they're, they're aligned well cost, cost of running. So fuel and and maintenance, and with EVs. The cost of maintenance and the cost of fuel is significantly less. In maintenance costs it's less than 50% the cost of internal combustion engine vehicle. Fuel depends on where you are, but it's typically half to a third or less. So I think fleets are gonna flip really quickly and they will drive huge amounts of EV sales in the next five to 10 years.Ed Bernardon:
It's, yeah, it, it makes a lot of sense. It fleets also give you some advantages for EVs as well in that if you have a fleet of vehicles, you don't have to have as big of a battery pack in it because if you're smart about how you use that fleet, you can have eight vehicles, six of them on the road all the time, reduce the size of the battery so you can always bring in the one that's need, needs to be, that's being charged to supplement the others once they run, run out of, charge. By making the battery packs smaller, the vehicle is lighter. Now it has more range. It's a bit of a cycle. Right. That sort of plays up on itself. I, I think too, going back to something we were speaking about earlier, when you combine this with autonomy, it even amplifies it more because imagine a four person shuttle, if one of them's a driver, you take that driver out you got 25% less cost, 25% more people delivery for not that much more energy usage than you would if, if it wasn't autonomous. And I think a really great example of this is, and this is actually, this example is actually in agriculture, is an autonomous electric tractor. It was made by a company called Monarch, which was founded by Carla Mondavi. I don't know if you know Mondavi, it's a famous name. Robert Mondavi was one of the first very large vineyards in Napa Valley. But anyways, his grandson created this tractor autonomous, electric tractor company. His goal was to save the monarch butterfly and so fully organic farming. All right, so he's out there doing fully organic farming with his diesel tractors and, and, and the problem is, is that if you're using organic pesticides, then you have to apply them more often, and everyone was pointing their fingers out. Well, that's great. You're being organic, but you're putting a lot of CO2 into the air with your diesel tractors that run two, three times more than ours do. Anyways, in the end he ended up with an electric tractor, which can run day and night cause it's not very loud, which is a really good thing. But there you now have to have charging infrastructure and all that on your farm so it's a little bit costly. But by making it autonomous, you can have one operator run eight of these tractors at a time. So now the cost has come down. So it's interesting, the combination of electric and autonomous on a tractor in a vineyard can help save the monarch butterfly through the use of organic pesticides. And I think the same thing is true on, on the streets. By combining those two things, I think it'll, it will help, it will help absolutely . Tom Raftery: Fantastic. Ed, we're coming towards the end of the podcast now. Is there any question that I haven't asked that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to think about? No, I, I think we've covered a lot of topics here. Certainly the main thing, you know, that I wanted to get across is there's never a simple solution. Or you can wait for that magic battery for a long, long time. But I think the key, especially from an engineering standpoint, is the ability to make little improvements in a lot of different areas to get you to where you want to be.Tom Raftery:
Yeah. Yeah. Actually, you just reminded me when you were talking about the, the weight difference and how that changes the, the range of a vehicle. So I switched from driving a V W I D four earlier this year to a Kia Niro more recently and the ID four has a 77 kilowatt hour usable battery in it and a range of about 450 kilometers. The Kia Niro has a 64 kilowatt hour battery in it and a range of about 450 kilometers, and it's just because the Kia has a smaller battery, slightly smaller body size, has the same range as the ID four, which is larger and has the larger battery. So it's, it, it's, it's, that was a fascinating learning for me. Just that right there, changing from those two vehicles,Ed Bernardon:
Well, you know, going back to our startup, which was software for designing with carbon fiber. When we were, and this was over 10 years ago now, that we were acquired. Most of that was driven by performance. The lighter you make it keeping the power the same, the faster it's gonna go, plain car, whatever it's gonna be. But you can flip that. You can flip that and say, I'm happy with how fast I'm going. I just want to do it with less power, with less fuel, be more sustainable, and lightweighting is really, really important for that. But you know, it's surprising, especially as speed goes up when you get 50 miles per hour, 60 or above, most of the fuel that's being used is going to be from air resistance and making that vehicle slip through the air. If you can get people to tolerate a lower top speed, it really helps a lot. We were, we were involved in a car design project. It was a lightweight electric vehicle. It happened to be autonomous but it was for something was designed, let's just say a city from the ground up to go along with the vehicle, which is really great cuz now you're designing the whole system. So we had a lot of freedom. It was amazing how much easier it was to design that vehicle if we said, can the top speed be 50 instead of 70 miles per hour? I said, oh, that's interesting. But you know, that really plays right back into this variety of vehicles. If you make a vehicle that only goes 25 miles per hour. You don't have the air resistance problem, but you have something else that's to your advantage is the crash structure to keep the batteries and the people safeTom Raftery:
is it's much, much less, much, much less weight, more range.Tom Raftery:
and in fact that's, that's probably one of the things we didn't talk about too much, which is this whole idea of keeping people safe with electric vehicles, you have to keep people safe, of course, but you also have to keep the battery safe. Where an internal combustion engine, well, okay, you buy a new engine, but with batteries, especially on side impact keeping them from you, you never want any kind of impact to get into that battery box. And so that's actually another one of those big challenges there that you have to put up with and have to be able to handle.Tom Raftery:
Interesting. Ed, that's been fantastic. If people would like to know more about yourself or about any of the topics we discussed in the podcast today, Ed, where would you have me direct them?Ed Bernardon:
Well, certainly you can direct 'em to our podcast on the Future Car Podcast. And a lot of the topics we talked about today, we cover there and certainly free to email me at my work address at Edward dot bernardon at siemens.com.Tom Raftery:
Perfect. Perfect. I'll put those in the show notes as well so people have access to them ed. That's been really fascinating, Ed. Thanks a million for coming to the podcast today.Ed Bernardon:
Thank you, Tom. It's been fun.Tom Raftery:
Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about Climate 21, feel free to drop me an email to Tom Raftery at outlook.com, or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. If you like the show, please, don't forget to click follow on it in your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks, catch you all next time.