The Future of Driving Is…Less Boring

A Q&A with Volkswagen’s Thomas Form

4 min read
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Volvo

Thomas Form

Photo: Volkswagen
Thomas Form

Car makers want you to think their cars are exciting to drive. But even they admit that commuting can be a bit of a bore. Some amount of self-driving would make the dull parts of driving more worthwhile, argues Thomas Form, head of electronics and vehicle research at Volkswagen. IEEE Spectrum Contributing Editor John Blau spoke with Form at the IEEE Technology Time Machine symposium in Dresden, Germany, this past May.

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

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Green

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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