Pump my ride

I was just thinking earlier this week why the large oil companies are not paying attention to the disruptive nature of the push for greater fuel economy and cleaner air.

Cities are banning combustion engines and now countries are laying plans to eliminate their production. Auto companies are under attack for not meeting emissions requirements around the world and, possibly, for colluding in the process. One auto company, Volvo, has announced the intent to electrify all its vehicles in the next decade. Granted, electric and hybrid vehicle production is an extremely small percentage of the total production today.

Everyone still complains about range anxiety, lack of infrastructure, and the time to recharge. Yet, improvements are being made in range and time to charge. Where is the push for better infrastructure? Wouldn’t the existing infrastructure of fueling stations complete with deli’s, restrooms, and snack centers be a good place to pump coulombs of electrical energy as well as gasoline, diesel, and ethanol?

Apparently the sleeping giants have begun to stir. Today I read that BP is in talks with the electric carmakers to offer charging docks at their fueling stations. It’s somewhat the classic strategy story of the buggy whip which went away when the horsepower pulling the wagon changed to the combustion engine rather than a horse.

The large oil companies should see themselves in the energy business, not the oil business. They’ve already adapted to providing natural gas as an offshoot of their oil business. But, that was easy, as it was a wasted by-product of producing oil originally.

Moving into providing just the pumping service for power is a step. Might they become a FaaS company, Fuel as a Service by pumping any form of energy? Or, will they stick to their core competency of mining and processing raw materials for energy? If the latter, they could buy mines for lithium. They could become battery manufacturers owning the giga-battery factories just as they own the huge petroleum processing plants. Might they go so far as to own a power plant, producing the energy? Maybe. I think they will adapt to fuel our need to move around regardless of the energy source. Whether I’m traveling in a tractor-trailer rig, a medium-duty pickup truck with a bucket, an SUV with the family, a micro-electric car, an electric bicycle, or an electric skate-board, “I need more power, Scotty!” Pump My Ride so I can keep going.

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