Electric autonomous vehicles would “cut urban transport costs by 40%”

A report from the World Economic Forum has predicted that autonomous electric vehicles will cut the cost of urban road transport travel by 40%.

Produced with UK consultant Bain & Company, the report claims cities could "dramatically increase productivity" if they embrace shared, autonomous electric vehicles (EVs), and that the US could realise benefits worth $635bn if it fully realises the potential of new transport systems.

Cities should prioritise public transport and commercial fleets, as those are the most heavily used types of vehicle, the report advises.

They should fully electrify public transport and remove regulatory barriers to autonomous vehicles (AVs).

Electric charging infrastructure should be widely introduced to relieve "range anxiety" among private drivers, and make charging points as green as possible.

The report lists cities that are leading the way to new urban systems. These include:

Berlin’s EUREF Campus (pictured), a newly built 5ha business park that hosts technology companies and research institutions has a microgrid that uses artificial intelligence to optimise charging and sends energy surplus back to the grid, based on dynamic pricing.

Buenos Aires, Montreal and Santiago, Chile, have prioritised the electrification of public transport through the public procurement of electric buses.

Dortmund is developing non-financial incentives for last-mile delivery companies to electrify their fleets, and EVs have been given extended access to the city centre.

Guangzhou has speeded up bus electrification and aims to reach 200,000 new units in 2018. China’s government has also announced it will develop national regulations for testing AVs on public roads across the country.

Hong Kong is encouraging developers to scale-up its EV charging infrastructure. This includes solutions integrated with the smart payment system, Octopus, which is also used to access the public transport network.

Los Angeles‘ Police Department has decided to switch 260 fleet vehicles to EVs. Charging infrastructure development is also under way and being integrated with decentralised solar power generation. By leasing rather than buying vehicles, the LAPD can invest in charging stations, including fast-charging stations in city centre car parks.

Transport for London requires all new black cabs to be electric or emission-free, and diesel vehicles will not be permitted in London by 2032. A total of 80 charging points will be dedicated to black cabs, with plans to implement 150 by the end of 2018, and 300 by 2020.

Oslo plans to have its fleet of 1,200 public vehicles using electricity by 2020,and gives EVs priority lanes. A project in Vulkan, on the city’s outskirts, demonstrates a public-private cooperation model between the city, a utility company and a real-estate firm for smart charging stations.

Paris has partnered with private company Autolib to set up an electric car sharing service with 4,000 EVs and more than 6,200 charging points across the region.

Image: EUREF, Berlin’s business park for smart mobility companies (Berlin Agency for Electromobility)

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