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12 cOMPaSS SAP SPECTRUM 1 /2011 CrossroAds As the car loses its mythical status, the transportation solutions of the future begin to emerge – but this transformation can’t happen without the help of IT. Author: Sebastian Nikoloff SAP SPECTRUM 1 /2011 cOMPaSS 13 A symbol of prosperity and indepen- mobile, the first attempt to bring onto Cars have never been a sound financial dence, the car embodies the dream of the market a car that runs on alterna- investment. A large family car loses al- adventure and discovery of the big wide tive, nonfossil fuel. It finally emerged most 30% of its value in the first two world. As the road movies of the sixties as the Smart – and nearly flopped. Now, years. That is a lot of money for a vehicle and seventies secured its mythical sta- the Smart is not only an economic suc- that spends 23 hours a day parked. Yet tus, the car became interwoven with our cess, but a conceptual one as well. It is the value of a car as a status symbol has identity. Keeping on the move became a way of life. Passing your driving test is still a rite of passage. Freedom is an open road. Now the future hardly looks so op- 75% Of all city traffic On satur- timistic: Oil reserves are running out. days is due tO shOppers lOOking There is increasing demand for cars in newly prosperous countries such as fOr sOmewhere tO park. China and India. Our cities are grid- locked. And cars are known to have an impact on the environment. We pin our hopes on hydrogen cars, proof that cars do not have to be as large always outweighed purely financial con- hybrid cars, electric cars, whatever cars and as fast as possible – or, as Canzler siderations. That is changing fast, espe- – as long as we can carry on as before. puts it, racing cars disguised as luxury cially in Western cultures. Middle-class If we give up our cars, we’ll be trapped sedans. city dwellers are attaching less impor- in one place with no means of escape. The idea of using an alternative fuel tance to the car. Now that almost every- What will be left of our freedom? Or is in the Smart was dropped early on, and it one has one – the level of car ownership there another way? was given a conventional engine. Mean- in OECD countries has never been so while, new suggestions for powering high – they don’t seem so special. These Rethinking the car cars came up: first, hydrogen fuel, then days, consumers take a long, hard look hybrid engines, and finally electric ve- at the costs of buying a car; they find an It’s been clear for a long time that hicles. None seemed to be a reasonable iPhone more appealing than a Mini. change is on the way. “Since the 1970s alternative to the internal combustion Half of all car rides made within cit- oil crisis, people have realized that we engine: Who wants a hydrogen tank in ies are less than three miles – they would can’t go on like this forever,” says Weert their trunk? Batteries are too heavy, and be quicker by bicycle. Traveling by car is Canzler, manager of the project group hybrid engines are only half a solution. only really worthwhile for longer dis- on mobility at the Social Science Re- So is the road running out for the car of tances. Yet it’s often only a couple of search Center in Berlin, Germany. The the twentieth century? At the moment, minutes faster than the bus and a good nineties saw the arrival of the Swatch- there seems to be no replacement. deal more stressful. According to Ger- many’s largest automobile club, up to 75% of all city traffic on Saturdays is due to shoppers looking for somewhere to park. Canzler says an increasingly mo- bile society cannot organize itself this Future Fleet: SaP’s electric car fleet way: “We are wasting energy, space, and time. What we need is radical change.” In mid-January, SAP in Germany kicked off a groundbreaking pilot project to test 30 electric cars as part of the German government’s “Future Fleet” initia- New cars ? tive. SAP and its partners want to find out how green the cars are, what the New business models ! drivers think of them, and how they use them. German electric utility MVV has provided the charging stations. SAP has provided a software prototype that re- New fuels, increased battery capac- cords the level of battery charge and how much the cars are used. The electric- ity, and standardized charging stations ity comes from renewable energy sources. are important innovations, but they miss the point. “Putting new motors in Some 450 SAP employees are taking part in the six-month trial, designed to find cars doesn’t solve the problem,” says out how we can make better use of cars, fuel, roads, and parking spaces. Canzler. “Instead, the car of tomor- row needs to be part of a new concept For more information about the German government’s Future Fleet initiative, see that really delivers what we want when www.futurefleet.eu we think of the car: convenient trans- portation.” Or, in the words of Hervé Couturier, manager of SAP’s research → 14 cOMPaSS SAP SPECTRUM 1 /2011 So if you think the debates about electric department: transportation as a service. cars are just about electric cars, you’re “People no longer want cars,” he says, mistaken. “The transportation of to- “they just want to get from A to B.” morrow is about much more than that,” They want access to a car when they says Canzler. It’s about innovation in need one, and access to other modes of technology and in business, as well as transportation that suit other needs at a new business models. It’s about how given time. Transportation as a service whole sectors of the economy can rein- will only work if all means of transpor- vent themselves to completely change tation are suitably networked. People the way we think about transportation. ultimately want to get from A to B as fast As an IT provider, SAP’s role in the and cheaply as possible, without trawl- ing through dozens of choices.new automobile revolution is clear: the system needs one main platform for Integration on all levels all modes of transportation that can collate, aggregate, and analyze informa- According to Couturier, there are three tion from various systems. “System inte- challenges to making cars an integrated gration is our strength,” says Couturier. and green mode of transportation. First, What about the components? “User- in the case of renting electric cars, we friendly interfaces were not always our need to know in real time how much strong point, but we have learned how battery charge remains, where the car important they are, and this is some- is, and whether someone has rented it. thing we can gain from.” Transportation providers can help by The “Future Fleet” project extends handling each step from reservations to SAP’s focus on company car fleets. “We billing. have large, professionally structured The second challenge lies in creating systems,” says Couturier. These are eas- IT and business models that make sense. ier to integrate, he explains, and their All the processes in the chain have to lower total costs are more likely to at- be kept simple. You need easy ways to tract companies than private individuals. make reservations, pay, and integrate Although electric cars are cheaper to run, various modes of transportation, such buying them is still very expensive. as buses, trains, and electric cars. But car manufacturers are also work- And lastly, to support more electric cars ing on lowering prices. In Neu-Ulm, on the roads, the system must offer a Germany, Daimler is investigating how to attract people who choose not to own a car. Instead of buying one, they can rent a Smart and have the bill sent the transpOrtatiOn Of tOmOrrOw to their cell phones. This is a new busi- is abOut innOvatiOn in technOlOgy ness model for Daimler, turning the car manufacturer into a service provider. and in business, as well as new business mOdels. — Weert Canzler Cars as part of a smart grid Electric utilities want in on the action, too. With electric cars turning electricity level of convenience similar to that of into the gasoline of the future, charging having your own car. According to Cou- stations may eventually replace gas sta- turier, people should not have to walk tions. This promises lucrative business more than 500 yards to find the car they for utilities. German electric utility RWE want to rent. Also we should not un- has already begun to use television ad- derestimate the personal aspects of our vertising to present itself as the forerun- cars, he says: “Electric cars should not ner of electric transportation. In 2010, it be seen as rental cars.” The seat posi- ran a commercial featuring actors who tion, safety settings, music library, and had years before starred in commercials the most important destinations in the for a gas-station chain. If we all drive navigation system – these make us feel electric cars, then it is also important at home in the car. where the electricity comes from. If we Advertisement SAP SPECTRUM 1 /2011 cOMPaSS 15 use oil or coal to generate the electricity Skeptics are not convinced that the in- to run our cars, we haven’t gained any- ternal combustion engine will ever be thing. Siemens has calculated that the fully replaced. “That’s not what we’re batteries of 400,000 electric vehicles aiming to do,” says Canzler. So far, the would have a storage power of eight batteries are not ready for the market, gigawatts – almost the entire output of and they have to come down in price. Germany’s six largest nuclear power And by refusing to define standards, the stations. industry is putting up a barrier to its If integrated into the electricity net- own success. work, electric cars would enable us Despite this, Canzler remains opti- to store considerable amounts of en- mistic that things are going in the right ergy. This might present a way to store direction. “We have to take all our ideas electric cars may be the sOlutiOn, if they are part Of an intelligent electricity netwOrk and nOt just electricity cOnsumers. renewable energy when more is pro- and think them through to the end. And duced than consumed, and draw on this in some ways we have to think bigger.” energy when we need it. Companies It’s a rare opportunity for a radical have been working on intelligent elec- and innovative change. The car has far tricity networks, called smart grids, that from reached the end of the road – but do this, but the huge batteries needed it is in the process of losing its mythical for a breakthrough have not been avail- status. Now all we have to do is redefine able. Electric cars could be the solution. what freedom means to us. They could be not just electricity con- sumers, but part of an intelligent elec- tricity network. 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