21st of October 2015, the date in which Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel into the future in Back to the Future 2. That day we probably thought of all the cool stuff we expected from the future back in 1989, when that movie blew us away with hover boards, self-lacing shoes, cool TVs (now called smart TVs), drones, flying cars… it was simply fascinating.
Let us pull a “Back to the Future” on the Moving industry. Can you imagine what the Moving Industry will be like in 10,15 or 20 years? Do you imagine the type of technology we will have access to at that point? Maybe surveys will be made by small drones that will quickly explore the house and create an estimate for the customer, while uploading data and video instantly. Maybe trucks will be filled with some sort of foam (eco friendly, of course) to prevent damages and then will evaporate once you reach your destination. Maybe you will be able to magnetically tag every box which then will guide the crew unloading truck directly to the correct room. Maybe crews will have Exo-suits that will allow them to carry heavy items easily. Fully electric trucks, autonomous trucks, exotic packing materials… OK, I think I got carried away.
The truth is that we are not that far from some of those “predictions” to become real. For example, a while ago we did a post on the first autonomous truck, amazing stuff. Self-driving technology is only getting better and better. Companies like, Google, FreightLiner and Tesla are doing huge improvements on this front.
There is another field where technology is moving forward quickly: electric vehicles. The moving industry could benefit a lot from this technology. Considering the amount of trucks on the road and the amount of fuel they consume, the cost reduction could be tremendous. Not to mention the impact the industry could do to our beloved Earth, especially if the electricity comes from renewable sources. In order to get there, first we need battery technology to improve to power longer drives, we need prices of full electric trucks to be more accessible, and we need cheap charging stations. How to get charging stations powered by renewable sources is a long discussion that involves fuel companies, government subsidies, and probably even the climate change issue, so let us not plunge into that. Now for the price of electric trucks to go down, like any other technology, once it becomes popular and more providers get on board, prices will go down. Let us focus on the technology, maybe we are not as far as we think we are. Let me give you some examples.
Last July, BMW reached a milestone in that direction, being the first ones to use a 100% 40 ton electric truck on european public roads. The truck was set to start operating on a daily basis that same July. According to BMW’s press release, the truck built by dutch company Terberg, takes three to four hours to charge. When fully charged, the vehicle has a range of up to 63 miles. It’s clear that that range is still not enough for the moving industry, but this could be the first step on the road to a full electric truck industry. As the electric vehicles industry keeps growing, that road becomes shorter and shorter.
IMAGE VIA BMW GROUP
Another example of that growth is Tesla, a must in any conversation about electric vehicles. It’s fair to say they are the big pushers and innovators in the electric vehicle industry. Their lithium battery technology, a key part of this whole movement, keeps improving and thus supporting larger vehicles. In fact, last September they launched their first SUV, with room for 7 adults and a fair amount of luggage while towing a 5000 pound trailer (according to the video).
One last example that takes us closer to a full electric truck for the Moving Industry is a company called 24m. This year they released a new design of Lithium-ion batteries that, according to their website, promises to cost 40% less than conventional Lithium-ion batteries and to store more energy. Yet one more step forward in smaller and more powerful batteries.
I am sure companies like Terberg, Tesla and 24m will keep pushing forward to the point where large vehicles like trucks and 18 wheelers can become fully electric powered. I just hope that when vehicle manufacturers are ready to make the fully electric truck capable to serve the Moving Industry, they keep Doc Brown’s memorable words in mind: “The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”