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What will transportation look like in 2034? Our top 10 predictions

From plug-and-charge to hydrogen fleets, we explore bold predictions for the next decade
Interior of a Polestar Precept, featuring human-machine interface infotainment system

This post was contributed by ChargeLab Director of Customer Support and industry veteran Emma Gold-Utting.

2024 promises groundbreaking developments in the EV industry, from enhanced technology to ambitious government initiatives. But what radical changes can we expect in the next decade?

Without question, transportation will be a different beast in 2034. Innovation is exponential as advancements compound and unlock new possibilities. What’s more, the present signals suggest deeper public interest in fighting climate change and increased funding for future initiatives.

Here I share my predictions for 2034. Will sharing models subvert vehicle ownership, following a similar path to the media industry? Will electric airplanes rule the skies? These ideas range from feasible to far-fetched. Come along for the ride. 

1. We’ll all plug and charge (fast)

The introduction of plug-and-charge technology for public charging will eliminate the friction drivers experience today. No more fumbling with cables, RFIDs, or mobile apps: This innovation promises a hassle-free experience akin to the current fuel station model. We’ll also see Level 2 chargers make way for more DC fast chargers, further emulating the pump-and-go experience.

2. Battery technology will take the pressure off

EV battery technology is on the brink of many breakthroughs. It remains to be seen if iron-based batteries or some other yet-to-be-revealed technology will win the day, but manufacturers seem aligned in their confidence that range and weight are solvable. Better batteries will mean more range and, thus, less pressure to expand public charging infrastructure. Of course, electric vehicle prices will also drop, accelerating sales. A shift towards cleaner battery manufacturing and recycling practices is also imminent. The emergence of more Lithium-ion recycling plants is a testament to the industry's commitment to sustainability.

3. Every public charger will support the NACS

The North American Charging Standard (NACS) is already poised to become the default connector across the content. By 2034, we predict the NACS will go global, replacing the bulky CHAdeMo and CSS plugs across Europe and Asia. NACS could emerge as the preferred choice, offering a consistent and reliable charging standard.

4. Vehicle ownership will go the way of the MP3

The traditional model of vehicle ownership is undergoing a seismic shift. Over the next decade, ridesharing and increased public transportation could render traditional ownership obsolete. Subscription-based models could dominate as fewer individuals feel the need to own and maintain personal vehicles. Similarly, autonomous driving vehicles will take a greater hold on the market as fewer people invest in learning the skill of driving altogether. 

5. Wireless charging will electrify bus routes & parking lots

Wireless charging infrastructure will electrify bus routes and parking lots, providing quick on-the-go charging experiences. The effect is a “0KWh” roadway that keeps you moving forward. This investment will become commonplace for urban bus routes, significantly reducing reliance on charging infrastructure. In other words, we’ll be equipped to meet public charging demand, so wait times like this don’t have to happen.

6. Hydrogen will cover the distance

The maturation of unitized regenerative fuel cell system (URFC) technology will propel hydrogen into the spotlight for fleets, covering longer distances more efficiently than electric alternatives. Hydrogen infrastructure will become more common, offering an alternative for extended journeys.

7. More green-fueled aircraft will take flight

The aviation sector is poised for a green revolution. Short-haul electric flights are becoming the new norm, with advancements in battery technology making the trade-off between weight and efficiency more practical. Exploration of aviation liquid fuels from sunlight and air in labs could further decarbonize air travel.

8. Power management will bring buildings into the future

Software-based power management technology is set to become the default approach for managing electrical load in buildings. It works by balancing energy loads across devices according to demand or even rerouting power to other chargers when a vehicle’s battery is detected as full. This technology applies to both old and new buildings, making them more energy-efficient and enabling the addition of extra charging stations.

9. Alternative energy sources will become critical

Solar, geothermal, and vehicle-to-grid technology will play pivotal roles in reshaping our energy infrastructure. These alternative sources will become cheaper and more widespread, reducing our dependence on problematic power sources like coal. Selling energy back to the grid will make EVs and solar investments more attractive.

10. Electrification will be a community equalizer

The transition to electric vehicles will contribute to cleaner communities, particularly benefiting low-income neighborhoods. Reduced pollution and improved air quality will transform EVs from a luxury for the affluent to a community equalizer, making private transportation accessible to everyone.

As we navigate the future of electric mobility, these predictions paint a picture of a cleaner, more efficient, and accessible transportation landscape. From charging innovations to sustainable energy sources, the electric vehicle revolution is not just about cars; it's about transforming the way we move and live. The next decade promises exciting advancements that will shape the future of transportation for generations to come. Talk to our team to learn what ChargeLab is building and how we hope to help.

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