The pandemic is a “big opportunity” to launch new businesses, products and services. But more than that, it’s the path forward now being opened to face Europe’s dependency – and particularly Portugal’s – regarding Asian or American technology. This is the new vision that will have to quickly enter the business agenda, alert the three specialists that participated in the 3rd session of the Portugal Mobi Summit, dedicated to the issue of carbon neutrality and life cycle.
Luís Reis, CEiiA – Engineering Center for Product Development -, Gonçalo Castelo Branco, EDP Comercial, and Derek von Ronn, Volkswagen Group are convinced that this is a unique moment and it’s urgent to grab it.
“We have to look for new opportunities in services and products that can be conceived, developed and industrialized in Portugal, taking advantage of some of these tendencies and changes that are happening now” defends Luís Reis, senior business manager of mobility at CEiiA.
There are plenty of examples to illustrate other ways of bringing innovation into the market. For starters, the “huge” increase in micro-mobility to ensure commutes and social distance in cities: “There are no industrial chains for these new electric vehicles here or in the European space” reminds us the senior business manager of mobility at the engineer center based in Matosinhos.
Therefore, there is a margin to invest in industries associated with these movements, that gained some space with Covid-19 and to promote the strategic “repositioning” of Europe as technological leader. Opportunities are not circumscribed within the boom of electric bicycles, scooters or motorcycles.
All the science and technology around electric vehicles, especially storage systems, it’s outside the European continent, underlines Gonçalo Castelo Branco. “What to do with car batteries at the end of their life cycle is, for example, another dimension that deserves major attention” defends the director of smart mobility at EDP Comercial, reminding that the recycling of batteries, after being used for 8 to 10 years in an electric vehicle, have several possible usages.
From providing energy to homes, to mining such as copper, lithium or nickel, currently imported from Asia or Africa, up to the storage capability to provide electricity in charging stations: “EDP innovation has been making tests in second life batteries and the conclusions are very interesting”.
The new possible usages are important aspects, but recycling cannot be overlooked, warns Derek von Ronn. The percentage of reused materials in a battery can grow from the current 60% to 97%. “This is the pilot project that we have been developing in the station that we created near the city of Hannover” exemplifies von Ronn from Volkswagen, to demonstrate the potential of this resource in the boost of “local business”