There are two main reasons behind the transformation to e-mobility. One is the need to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide that are assumed to be the most important reasons behind global warming. The other reason for the transformation is the expected peak in oil production and the decline in the oil supply that is going to occur after the peak.

Emissions of Carbon Dioxide

The climate on the planet is heating up and many ascribe this to the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In countries like Sweden where electricity is produced from hydroelectric sources, nuclear power, cogeneration of heat and power, wind, or solar, electricity is a fossil-free form of energy. In countries where coal or natural gas are used for power production, electricity is not entirely fossil-free, but it is still a less polluting alternative than petroleum-based fuels. One reason for this is the fact that electric vehicles are more than three times more energy efficient than petrol or diesel vehicles. The development of wind and solar as the energy sources of the future also lays the foundation for a reduction in the use of electricity produced from coal and biogas in the future.

Reduced Oil Production

Independent experts on oil production, such as the International Energy Agency, financed by 30 countries and affiliated to the OECD and Professors Kjell Aleklett and Mikael Höök at Uppsala University, warn that oil production is going to reach its peak in the near future, possibly in the next few years, and that production volumes will go into decline after the peak. It is a widespread belief that the transformation to electric mobility will start automatically as soon as oil becomes scarce and oil prices reach a high enough level, but this is not very likely. Large-scale transformation needs to start many years ahead of the decline in oil production and projects need to be run that pave the way for the transformation by developing the necessary technologies and system solutions and helping to reduce the cost of the transformation.

The reason is that very large volumes of oil are used globally and that it will take decades to build vehicle fleets with many electric vehicles. 100 million barrels of oil are used every day and there are 1.2 billion cars and some 100 million heavy vehicles in use globally. The total number of electric cars amounts to six million, 0.5 per cent of all cars and that number is growing by slightly more than 1 million per year. At the present rate it would take 1000 years to transform global car fleets to electric propulsion and there is at present no system and no vehicles for long-distance heavy transportation that can become implemented on a large scale. The pace will increase, but the present rate is very low and in the countries that have made the largest progress, the development is to a large extent driven by generous subsidies from governments.