Electric mobility champions
The name is Bond, James Bond, and I drive an electric car. We got the news just a few weeks ago: in the next film in the series, the world’s most envied 007 agent will be roaring around in an all-electric Aston Martin. A sign both of the times and of what has turned into an unstoppable revolution.
Sustainable mobility is moving fast here in Italy too. In 2017, Enel and the Symbola Foundation presented the “100 Italian E-Mobility Stories” report. Two years on, much has changed and Symbola has decided to update that study with Enel X, which is driving the pace of this change through its National Plan to provide the country with a nationwide charging network with over 5,700 new points installed from North to South as of the end of March. The aim is to reach 28,000 by 2022. Electric car sales in Italy have taken off too, jumping from 5,000 in 2017 to around 10,000 last year.
The Italian sector
That acceleration was described in the report presented at the Enel Auditorium on April 8 by the Symbola Foundation’s President Ermete Realacci and Enel X CEO Francesco Venturini, with Francesco Starace, CEO and General Manager of our Group, also video-linked to the event.
But rather than focusing on numbers, the report told stories of excellence. 100 success stories in all ranging from design to car components, sharing services and batteries. From A for ACI - Vallelunga, where Enel X’s electric mobility hub is based, to Z for Zagato, a historic marque that once crafted the glorious curves of Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce’s cars but today designs futuristic-looking electric shuttles. It is just one of the many historic Made in Italian marques that have made the move to sustainable mobility. Others include Piaggio, which is an icon of Italian design, thanks to its Vespa scooter of which there is now an electric version; Ducati Energia, which has turned the conventional bike into an e-bike; Pininfarina, which unveiled the very first zero-emissions luxury hypercar at the last Geneva International Motor Show; Giugiaro which penned the Kangaroo full-electric SUV; and Fantic, which made the legendary Caballero in the 1970s and now has the E-Caballero on the market. Last but not least is Dallara, which now builds the monocoque chassis’ for Formula E electric single-seater world championship, a test-bench for the mobility of the future. One of the many companies from “Italy’s motor valley which itself is going electric,” in the words of Francesco Paolo Augello of Aster, a technological transfer consortium that promotes sustainable development in the region that produced Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. Another success case study in the report, which, however, does not stop with companies but also describes the experiences of universities, research centres and voluntary sector companies. This is almost an industry in its own right that marries creativity and sustainability, innovation and beauty, investing in motor efficiency, battery life and materials recovery from a circular perspective. And it will be coming together in Florence between April 9 and 12 at the ExpoMove, the first electric mobility fair, of which Enel X is both main sponsor and technology partner.
Innovation and beauty for this new mobility
According to Starace “by giving voice to Italy’s excellence, the research done by Symbola and Enel X is helping us to realise that e-mobility can be an opportunity for development for the entire Nation to embrace.”
Realacci spoke about the “alliance between beauty, design and technology. They are the talents, the energies, we have to start from have to start from: we need to encourage them, enhance their value and systemise them”.
“Only if Italy does things the way it knows how, will it be able to tackle the difficulties ahead successfully,” he added, reminding those present of the fact that the country is lagging behind on the e-mobility front, “even though we are fortunate enough to have some big players like Enel that are driving the entire sector.”
“Italy has the right skills. But we need to create the conditions for it to express those skills,” added Venturini, remembering France and Germany’s decision to open a research centre specifically for batteries, something Italy does not have. “We have to rethink mobility in its entirety, starting with our cities, so that we can manage the energy transition. Battery costs are falling far faster than expected and in 10 years’ time, the electric system will be very different from now. E-cars, for example, will be used to manage imbalances in the grid. The important thing is not to be frightened of the future,” Venturini concluded.
Rethinking mobility by giving cities back their inhabitants is, for instance, the philosophy that inspires Estrima, the startup that invented the Birò, the smallest quadricycle on the market and the only one with a removable battery, while eProInn and Onda Solare are working on turning cars into solar energy-powered vehicles. Daze Technology is a startup attempting to bypass manual vehicle charging, E-GAP invented the first on-demand mobile charging service, NITO (Nuova Industria Torinese, “New Turin Industry”) designs electric folding scooters. The designers at Icona, which was founded in Turin and now also has branches in Shanghai and Los Angeles, are working to transform urban transport from a people-centred perspective.
The 100 stories brought to us by Enel X and Symbola show that there are no limits to Italian creativity. “Technology alone is not enough. We need an electric mobility epic,” opines Realacci. And this book has started writing it.