Exclusive: What is the future of electric mobility in automotive? — Peter Leyden

It’s easy for business leaders and owners to get caught in the here-and-now instead of planning for the future, especially in light of the societal and economic transformations over the past few years. On this edition of Inside Automotive, we’re joined by Peter Leyden, futurist, entrepreneur, host of the Civilization Salons for The Long Now Foundation, and the Senior Fellow for strategic foresight at Autodesk. Leyden is also the former managing editor for WIRED Magazine, founder of media startup Reinvent, and co-author of The Long Boom: A Vision For The Coming Age Of Prosperity. Today he shares his perspective on the changes that might be coming in the next 25 years.

The digital revolution came to the San Francisco bay area very early, around the same time Leyden started working with the early founders of WIRED Magazine and covering the technological boom. In the early 1990s, people did not understand that computers were getting more powerful. They also had no idea how fast PCs would scale or how they would function within a new phase of globalization on the heels of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Startups during this time like Amazon and Apple have gone on to become some of the most influential companies in the country, if not the world. It’s Leyden’s goal to lay out the lessons learned from that period and apply some of them to the next wave of changes coming in technologies and systems. The transition to clean energy and electric mobility for the automotive industry is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. The industry is not alone in adapting to fundamental system changes. Leyden believes that the automotive space will undergo many system changes this decade.

“When you’re at the beginning of these transactions, it’s very hard to see how the system will evolve and how it will fill out—how it will work,” explains Leyden.

Amazon and Apple took decades to reach their trillion-dollar valuations, but their systems accelerated. Adoption of new technologies is typically slow in the beginning before it hits an inflection point. It’s about understanding the tipping points and how technologies are adopted. From Leyden’s vantage point, the electric mobility world has hit a tipping point, despite low adoption data when looking at the raw numbers. The problem now becomes—how will it work at scale? Think of Tesla in a similar vein to Apple, says Leyden. Tesla demonstrated that it could be done.

Will there be enough BEV chargers in 10 years? Leyden says more than likely, but that’s not the real issue. The question becomes, who will dominate that space, and how will it happen? It will take some government intervention and regulation, but it’s primarily a private sector boom. Dealers must decide how early they want to move forward with electrification and the role they can play in the transition.

Related: How can car dealers prepare to serve future EV customers?

For more great insight from Peter Leyden, watch our entire interview above.

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