How Will Customers Benefit from Electric Cars?

How Will Customers Benefit from Electric Cars?

Innovation Mobility

How will electric vehicles change the face of current motoring? What new features are in store for users? Dr Guido Haak, head of product management at ŠKODA, answered these and other questions in an interview.

20. 8. 2018

How will eMobility shape the future look of cars? Will it open up new possibilities or will future cars look much as they do today?
The more compact electric drivetrains give us new options when it comes to car proportions and car design. Thanks to the new Modular Electric Platform (MEB) our designers are able to create the interior room more spacious and functional for all passengers. With greater flexibility in where we position engine components, we are already seeing new developments such as the “frunk”, i.e. a front trunk. However, customers are still used to the conventional look of a car, so the transition will be gradual.


How will our day-to-day lives change with an electric car, when we consider driving behaviour, range, recharging, and connectivity? What will drivers have to learn?

For the foreseeable future, electric driving will require more planning than you have with a petrol- or diesel-fuelled car. Connectivity functions assist in this process by offering online services that will navigate us to charging stations, provide remote access to car data, or schedule charging times. As the network of charging stations expands and the time it takes to charge a car shorten, flexibility will increase. Most people these days use cars for their daily short-distance commute; an electric car is just as suited to this as a conventionally powered vehicle.

Haak-circle
Dr Guido Haak
Head of product management at ŠKODA


What are the main benefits for e-car drivers?

The main benefits are the reduced operating costs, the lower fuel prices and the easier maintenance. What’s more, driving an electric car is itself easier and more dynamic. Recent announcements by numerous cities and regional governments indicate that electric driving will be required to venture into certain areas.

Haak_Emobility_powerstation

However, ŠKODA will offer very competitive products offering a wide range of capabilities for a comparatively moderate price.

SUVs are in vogue and continue to gain market share – will the electrification of cars change that? Is there a difference between electrifying an SUV or a compact car?
There is no fundamental difference between electrifying an SUV or a standard car, such as a sedan or estate. However, the underlying physics remains the same: the higher mass, larger wheels, and greater air drag of an SUV mean that your range is reduced and you need larger batteries. People buy SUVs these days because of the design and higher seating position. These factors will not change, regardless of the powertrain.

What about customers who own a relatively new internal combustion engine car and intend to keep driving it for years – how quickly will things change for them? I’m thinking of petrol stations, servicing and maintenance, spare parts, and the like.
If you’ve just bought a car with an internal combustion engine, you’ll be able to drive it for at least the usual lifespan of this car. The transition towards electric drivetrains will be gradual. Petrol stations, service centres, and so on will still be available for the next couple of decades. Unless you live in an area requiring a rapid change to zero emission mobility, you’ll be able to keep using your internal combustion engine car for a long time yet.

What do electric car customers want and what do they worry about? What sort of observations have you made so far?
We have known for a long time that what prospective buyers of electric cars worry about most is range. Our fist e-vehicle, the electrical CITIGO, will already have an adequate range of 300 kilometers and the next generation of electrical cars of around 500 kilometers. This is more than enough to manage the daily way to work and back. Associated with this charging times and density of harging stations are important key factors for the success of electrical vehicles in the future.

Haak_Emobility_driver

What factors underlie how consumers will accept ŠKODA e-cars? Is it just the range? What role do design, the interior concept and price play?
Taking the limited range out of the equation, electric cars offer all the many new opportunities we have already mentioned. We need to convince the customer of their benefits. The higher purchase prices, which can be attributed to the fact that battery costs remain high, are another obstacle. However, ŠKODA will offer very competitive products offering a wide range of capabilities for a comparatively moderate price.

What will distinguish ŠKODA electric cars from those of other manufacturers?
The standard ŠKODA values will remain the same: a human approach, the simplification of everyday life, and the element of surprise. We will not reinvent the brand, but carry over our values to our new electric vehicles. In our regular meetings with the ŠKODA Design I already have seen the upcoming models and believe me they will have an outstanding and unique design.

EMobility will place autonomous driving squarely in the spotlight – what importance will this technology have for traffic safety?
Autonomous driving has the potential to minimise the risk of accidents. However, we will witness a long period where varying degrees of autonomous driving are in place. For the foreseeable future, there will be a mix of autonomously driving cars and cars with a human driver. The whole automotive industry is currently conducting research to increase safety via advanced driver assistance systems, which will control autonomous cars completely. But this is still a vision more than 10 years in the future.

Will ŠKODA‘s electric cars be cheaper or more expensive than conventional cars in the long run (if we factor in maintenance costs and the lifetime of IT components)?
We are striving to provide customers with better value for money. Electric cars will have the potential to deliver on this promise as soon as battery prices come down.

What role will mobile services play for the actual product – the car? And how well is ŠKODA positioned here?
While mobility services are not inextricably bound up with eMobility, the limited range of electric cars requires more intelligent mobility solutions. We will soon see more creative ways of organising passenger transportation from point A to point B via multiple modes of transport.

Next up in Future Mobility series

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