Wider electric vehicle adoption requires global energy solutions
The automotive sector is evolving at an unprecedented rate. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an estimated 50mn electric vehicles will be in operation by 2025, and 300mn by 2040. With BMW, Volvo, and Jaguar Land Rover promising electrified versions of their current models, most of the major car manufacturers have now announced significant investment, re-affirming this shift.
Furthermore, with Dyson announcing that it is starting to manufacture electric cars and the European Commission forming a consortium that will drive the development of battery technology, there is no doubt that we are moving towards a world with electric vehicles at its center.
While we are certainly on the road to wider adoption, there is still one main drawback that could thwart public interest: charging infrastructure. Fundamentally, in order to support the innovation and commercialization of electric vehicles, the right energy technology and infrastructure must be in place. This is critical to ensure the experience matches the hype.
The rise of the electric hype
Fueled by the rise in air pollution and political momentum to reduce global warming, electric vehicles have grown in popularity and the technology has improved at a record pace to become a benchmark for innovation in the automotive sector.
Competition in the marketplace is also increasing. From the first Prius hybrid model launched by Toyota in 1997, to the more recent full electric vehicle launches of the Tesla Model S, BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf, car manufacturers are investing in hybrid and electric vehicles and demand from consumers is gradually growing. Couple this with increasing environmental and sustainability regulations and the case for more energy efficient vehicles is gaining momentum.
The adoption of this technology, however, is hampered by a need to optimize infrastructure to ensure it can support the surge in charging capabilities. Crucially, if the infrastructure cannot cope with peak power points, the adoption of electrical vehicles will be reach a standstill.
Global adoption requires a universal solution
We already see Britain, France, Norway and China committing to ban diesel and petrol cars in favor of cleaner vehicles. This shift was most recently followed by one of the leaders in the automotive industry: Germany.
At this point, it is becoming critical to adopt technology that allows us to smooth over the energy consumption needs that advanced countries are yet to experience. We need to take a holistic view to managing energy provision, as we will not be able to rely on drivers of electric vehicles to scatter the time when they charge their vehicles to reduce peak demand.
With implementation commitment growing at a rapid pace, there is a pressing need for collaboration that will support solutions for energy technology challenges globally. This can only be done if governments, industry bodies and innovators join forces to support energy storage technologies that complement future developments in the sector. There is a need for a serious discussion on how to implement a stable grid that will be capable of withstanding the increased energy consumption inevitable with electric vehicles. Critical to this will be coping with especially high demand peaks and proving that the grid has the resilience needed for electric vehicles to become a success.
Revolutionizing the sector
It is possible to manage the growing demands on our energy infrastructure and ensure that there is a stable and reliable energy support that will drive the growth of electric vehicles, but it requires a fresh look at our energy storage mix.
By investing in energy storage technologies that complement battery power, such as ultracapacitor technology, we can manage peak power needs. Ultracapacitors are one of the lowest cost solutions to helping with grid stability, and can play an integral role in supporting the national grid and managing power demands.
Wide-scale electric vehicle charging creates serious issues with demand management, which can potentially cause power blackouts. These blackouts are caused mostly by short demand peaks, which usually last under a minute. This is precisely where ultracapacitors excel. As part of the grid solution, ultracapacitors can provide a means to ensure there are no blackouts during sudden changes in demand.
On board vehicles, the technology should be evaluated and used in tandem with lithium-ion batteries in order to downsize the pack and increase the battery lifetime. By introducing capacitive technology to the power unit, it is possible to reach longer lifetimes and support the peak power needs of electric vehicles. However, in order to do so, we must secure a reliable infrastructure to support this trend going forward.
By prioritizing investment in infrastructure and encouraging discussion and collaboration between governments, car manufacturers and technology companies, we will be able to create an environment where infrastructure, technology and the consumer act as one. Only then will be able to embrace electric vehicle revolution globally and support a future that is dominated by electrification.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.