By on September 1, 2010

In the former millennium, if you had a fantasy in overdrive and writing skills, you wrote books. These days, you join a management consulting company, and you author future scenarios. Easier and far more lucrative than coming up with “The Hunt For The Red October.“ Your client will give you the desired finale, along with a lot of money. All you need to write is a halfway logical plot that leads to the desired finale.

Everybody has decided that the future belongs to the electric car. Expensive batteries, high cost, low range, long recharge times, short battery life, these are just distractions. What we need is a halfway logical plot that leads us to the finale where the electric car gets the girl, and the ICE drives over a cliff.  In comes Frost & Sullivan.

Frost & Sullivan has a unique perspective of  emerging market megacities. It differs decidedly from my  former millennium view. If I want to drive someone crazy, I ask “what is the world’s largest city?” They answer “New York? Tokyo?” I say: “Not even close. Chongqing. Population 32 million.” “Chong what?” Works all  the time. Some people get aggressive when I insist that a city they don’t know and can’t spell is the world’s largest.

When I look out of my 40th floor window in Beijing, I see daily traffic jams in a city that grows so fast that nobody really knows how many people live here. (Latest version: 20 million, and possibly 3 million more – let’s call it 25 million). Most of the people see huge problems in these monster cities. What does Frost & Sullivan see? An ideal market for electric cars.

In their “360 Degree Perspective of the Global Electric Vehicle Market – 2010 Edition“, the huge megacities that mushroom in emerging nations are the perfect market for electric cars. Offices,  apartments and shopping centers will move closer together, said Anjan Hemanth Kumar of Frost & Sullivan to Automobilwoche [sub]. An optimal breeding environment for electric cars. What about range anxiety? What about the money?

“With the lithium-ion battery an innovative financing models, the automakers are ready for a revolutionary business scenario,” promises Kumar.

So there you have it. Problem of bursting  megacities solved. Market for electric cars created. Can’t think of a better win-win scenario. BMW already bought into it.

Until I take the elevator down to the basement garage of my building. 3 floors of garage. Lowest floor with heavy blast doors. My German clients who came to visit last week saw there “more S-Class cars than in our whole town.” There are the occasional Rollers, and the rest  are run-of-the mill A6es.  What’s missing?

Electric outlets.

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13 Comments on “Emerging Market Megacities Together In Electric Dreams...”


  • avatar
    MikeAR

    So Kumar is still a stoner after getting a consulting gig. I’m in the wrong line of work, this guy gets paid to daydream and he still gets his money even when the product he puts out is crap.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Here in Boston all the college kids are moving back in and I saw a sign that said “Welcome class of 2014”. Now, when those kids are your age, will they still be making ICE vehicles? If so what % of the market will they be…. in your estimation?

  • avatar
    jimble

    Not to be nitpicky, but Chongqing covers a huge area larger than Taiwan, most of which is rural. Wikipedia’s list of largest urban areas ranks the actual urbanized area of Chongqing way down at #51 at only 5.5 million, with Tokyo still comfortably at #1 with over 35 million.

    • 0 avatar

      You fell victim of the oldest parlor trick in demography: The “urban agglomeration.” You can make it as large as you want. The population of Tokyo proper is 13 million. As long as Yokohama and surrounding provinces haven’t been annexed, it will stay that way. And they faked the Chinese numbers in Wikipedia by using old or questionable numbers.

      Check out the real numbers of people living within city limits. Use the sort button. Sorry that Chongqing covers a huge area larger than Taiwan. Those complaints must be directed to the Chinese government. It’s their country.

    • 0 avatar
      V572625694

      Must respectfully disagree w/Herr Schmidt. Municipal boundaries in the US (and apparently other countries as well) are accidents of local government choice, whites’ fear of dark-skinned people, freeway and rapid transit routes, and a myriad of other factors that do not reflect the actual experience of living in New York, Dallas, or Eugene, Oregon. Only a cartographer looking at a map can tell where most “cities” end and their suburbs begin, let alone where one suburb merges into another.

    • 0 avatar
      jimble

      Just because the Chinese draw a boundary around a big chunk of land and call it a city for administrative purposes doesn’t make it a real city of 32 million. The population density of the “city” of Chongqing is 382/km2, compared to 5,847/km2 in the city of Tokyo (and 43,079 in Manila). Most of Chongqing’s population is still farmers. I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of people living there — 23.3 million farmers is a lot of farmers — but it’s not the world’s largest city in any meaningful way.

    • 0 avatar

      I could tell from my tax return whether I lived in New York City or Long Island …

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Easier and far more lucrative than coming up with “The Hunt For The Red October.“

    Perhaps easier, but not more lucrative, not by a long shot.

  • avatar
    V572625694

    I live in a highrise in the comparatively micro-city of San Diego, and would buy a Nissan Leaf tomorrow if I had a place to plug it in. The building has heavy power on-site for elevators, A/C, etc, but getting even 240v juice to each parking space, and metering it once it gets there, is a bridge too far for the average condo association. The limitations would be even greater in an apartment building. Maybe when gas hits $10/gallon….

  • avatar
    findude

    Early gasoline retailers received their shipments via horse-drawn wagon, stored in barrels, and filled customer’s tanks via hand-activated pumps. It wasn’t until there was sufficient demand that dedicated gas stations appeared along with the attending infrastructure of tanker fleets and so on.

    The infrastructure for EVs will likewise grow (or not) according to demand and infrastructure constraints. I suspect the first major inroad will be 110-120V chargers installed into suburban garages (infrastructure already there–that 3-hole outlet and the meter on the outside wall. Early adopters will be people who use their EV battery the same way we use our cell-phone batteries: enough charge to get through a regular day plus maybe 20% extra margin.

  • avatar

    I love your paragraph #2, and I do find it amazing that so many people think EVs will take over despite the range and refueling problems–in megacities that are large in area, no less. I think it’s possible that the problems of batteries that restrict range and result in long refueling times may be solved, but I’m not going to bet a lot of money on it, not yet anyway.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I’m always amazed at the gullibility of people. Follow the money… where is the infrastructure coming from?

    In most major urban areas in NA there’s a shortage of power. Utilities/gov’ts are not building gen stns fast enough for future demand. Most instead are installing “Smart meters” to social engineer, i.e. force, energy usage patterns away from daytime. Adding to the load by massively increasing the demand from new uses doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar. And if you think that everyone will only plug in their cars at off peak time, you got to be joking.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    The Auto X Prize mainstream class has been won by an internal combustion engined vehicle. Not even a hybrid.

    http://gigaom.com/cleantech/edison2-last-mainstream-car-standing-in-x-prize-finals/

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