You may not see them coming, but the effects of climate change are starting to be felt in certain parts of the world. An example of this is the destruction of several coral reefs around the globe in recent years. As devastating as that sounds, it is only the prologue to a long list of potentially catastrophic events yet to arrive. In the long term, climate change threatens to eventually drive humans towards extinction. Therefore, while little steps, like planting more trees and turning out lightbulbs when not in use, are certainly useful, bigger steps are needed to fend off the devastating effects of climate change.
An internal combustion engine is one of the prime contributors to climate change-causing carbon emissions. Such engines produce large quantities of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other hydrocarbons that harm the environment and cause respiratory disorders in individuals. Due to these—and many more—reasons, electric vehicles, or EVs, need to replace the ones with traditional combustion engines.
EV owners can save about US$700 a year on fuel costs alone. Also, the maintenance expenses of EVs are lower than those of standard vehicles. So, owning EVs can help them save money and reduce their extreme reliance on fossil fuel, thereby slowing down its inevitable depletion from the earth. Additionally, EVs are incredibly efficient as they only consume approximately 25-40 kWh per 100 miles. Most importantly, EVs reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 178 million kg. What’s more, despite the high fuel efficiency and smaller carbon footprint, EVs can outperform vehicles with traditional combustion engines easily.
Several countries around the world have set specific target years in the future when they will stop building internal combustion engine vehicles altogether and only produce EVs to reduce their carbon footprint. The US, for example, intends to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a target that it will achieve by stopping the sales of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.
Blockchain already has several use cases in the automotive industry. In the future, it is certain that most vehicles will be electric-powered, so those use cases will be applicable in the EV industry too. Leveraging blockchain for EV-related operations will boost the development of the EV industry.
Owning an EV can be challenging for multiple reasons—the rarity of charging ports and the high purchase price of vehicles being the chief ones. Such problems can be overcome by using blockchain for EV operations.
Reducing Production Costs
Blockchain-based applications come with a track-and-trace feature. This feature allows EV manufacturers to keep tabs on the materials as they are brought for production. Certain types of materials, such as wolframite and cobalt, are sourced from hard-to-trace developed countries. Such materials change hands several times before they’re brought to factories for processing and production. Therefore, blockchain is useful to accurately store the provenance-related details of raw materials so that the manipulation of such materials coming from such sources can be prevented. Using blockchain for EV production also enables manufacturers to monitor any diversions while materials are being brought into factories for EV production. Blockchain-enabled tracking allows EV manufacturers to react to vehicle recalls in a cost-effective way. If there are any material issues that require vehicles to be recalled, the manufacturers can call back only those EVs that were built using parts or materials from the partner who supplied them. This makes your supply chain much leaner and cost-effective. A leaner supply chain results in lower production costs for EV makers.
This is how blockchain reduces the production costs—and, by extension, the purchase costs of EVs.
Blockchain for EVAllerin
Enabling Power Trading
As specified above, one of the main challenges of owning EVs is the difficulty owners have finding charging ports to power their vehicles. At least in the current times, EV charging ports are not as widespread and easily accessible as petrol or diesel pumps. EV owners tend to live with a constant fear of running out of battery power on long-distance commutes wherein there are no charging points available nearby. Accordingly, they have to plan their commutes keeping in mind the range of power in their vehicle, charging time and availability of charging ports in the location where they will travel to. This is a massive limitation as it slows down the worldwide adoption of EVs and also puts many owners off purchasing EVs. If governments or businesses can resolve this issue, the adoption of EVs can be greatly accelerated. To tackle this problem of charging port availability, the concept of blockchain-based P2P EV charging can be used. This concept involves the use of blockchain for EV charging through power trading.
EV owners may possess their own private charger that enables them to power their vehicles. Blockchain applications allow vehicle owners to trade power by sharing their private EV chargers with those who need them. Through specialized digital P2P charging platforms, owners can make their chargers available to the general public during the times when they’re not using them. A few examples of such blockchain-for-EV-charging platforms are Share&Charge, Chargemap, Aerovironment, Easy Park and Charg. EV owners who source power from such individuals will pay cash through the digital platform. So, EV owners can keep their vehicles running and look for available private chargers in their vicinity if they’re out of battery in the middle of a commute. Owners of private EV chargers can increase the utility of their idle chargers by power trading through a secure blockchain platform. As usual, blockchain ensures that monetary transactions and power trading are secure for both parties involved.
The involvement of blockchain for EV charging increases the number of charging locations. Additionally, P2P EV charging requires no major investments to be made as the existing infrastructure—that may have been idle otherwise—is being utilized. EV manufacturers who invest in building such infrastructures can gain an immediate competitive edge over other carmakers as EVs will be the norm, and not the exception, in the future. Tesla has already invested heavily in EV charging infrastructure to increase vehicle owners’ convenience.
In the future, smart cities can integrate such energy-sharing platforms into their smart grid system. The integration would help electric power to be managed and directed to zones where it is needed most. As we can see, the use of blockchain for EV-based operations solves the most pertinent problem associated with owning EVs. In this way, blockchain helps accelerate the global adoption of electric-powered vehicles.
Enabling Creation of Digital Vehicle Passports
Buyers of used EVs need to know several details before they can finalize their purchase decisions. These details include the number of miles clocked by a given vehicle, its accident-related record, details about how frequently it was serviced, the condition of its interiors and electric batteries, the performance of its safety devices such as Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), airbags, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Hill Descent Control (HDC), Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and others.
Blockchain-based applications enable used car vendors to create a digital “passport” of each EV. Such applications allow buyers to verify the details listed above regarding any EV on the used car market. They can even involve third-party experts to verify those details regarding a given vehicle. All they have to do is to utilize their phone for scanning a QR code on the seller’s app. Such an application allows potential used EV buyers to get expert-generated verified information about used EVs. As with any blockchain-based tool, the records maintained in the applications are secure from manipulation.
The general public tends to associate blockchain solely with cryptocurrency. In reality, blockchain has several applications in the fields of healthcare, banking, insurance, supply chain management, amongst others. There are a few standard characteristics of blockchain-based applications—transparency, data security and decentralization—that can be applied in multiple ways in different industries. Regarding the EV industry, blockchain-based applications enable EV networks—and, subsequently, the data stored within them—to be super-secure.
The EV industry can make use of all those blockchain qualities to reduce the price of manufacturing vehicles, create an integrated and consumer-friendly charging infrastructure and for creating accurate and verified EV “passports.”
All in all, blockchain can allow governments, individuals and businesses to adopt EVs faster to slow down climate change.