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Parked Cars – Untapped Potential

With research and innovation, it is possible to develop unique and environment-friendly solutions to utilize cars even when they are parked.

Photo Credit : Reuters,

Technological advancements have triggered changes across industries. The automobile sector is also witnessing a transition as electric vehicles (EVs) disrupt the internal combustion engine (ICE) car segment. Foreseeing the shift in the market, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and aftermarket players are rethinking their strategies and planning long term to be ready for the new era. 

EVs are in the market and gaining popularity due to their hi-tech features and technological innovations. The segment is also getting support from the government and soon these vehicles will become common on Indian roads. Furthermore, the autonomous car (AC) segment is seeing an influx of funds from VCs and funding agencies that are attracted to its potential. Although ACs are still at the prototyping stage, they are likely to enter the market within the coming five years.

Estimates indicate that almost two billion cars will be on the roads globally by 2040. The main concern is not the type of the car as much as its utility period. It has been analyzed that 95% of the time, private cars are parked. This creates pressure on the limited parking space available, increasing environmental stress and causing social complications.

With research and innovation, it is possible to develop unique and environment-friendly solutions to utilize cars even when they are parked. Some prestigious automobile brands are already working in this direction.

There are various ways a parked car can be used, such as:

  1. Cooking system – The fuel/gas in the car can be used for cooking applications and parked cars can be used to cook or warm food.
  2. Air purification – Innovative methods such as applying photocatalyst coating on the car’s body or fitting air filters on the rooftops can help use a parked car as an air purifier.
  3. Water storage – With a water tank installed in the vehicle, the parked car can be used for rainwater harvesting. 
  4. Entertainment – The windshield or body of a parked car can be used as a video projection screen for open air theatres.
  5. Power generation – With the integration of solar cells in the body parts of the car (windshield/ roof), it can be used for power generation. In fact, EVs can be connected to a grid or residential building in cases where demand for energy is high.

Well-known automobile and associated companies are conducting research in this direction:

  • Mann+ Hummel – The company has patented and commercialized the use of a multi-layer membrane filtration to purify ambient air. This membrane filter, which can be installed anywhere on the vehicle, is made of either polypropylene and/or polyester or glass fibers. The filter acts as a purifier, removing various types of particulates (such as NO2, CO2, and dust) from the air around. Therefore, as the number of cars on road increases, the technology can help in checking air pollution.
  • Goodyear – The tire company is testing the feasibility of moss-filled 3D-printed tires. The concept tire is filled with moss, which releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. As the tires are 3D-printed from rubber powder, they are a complete sustainable solution. As per estimates, for a city as big as Paris, these tires can absorb 4000 tons of carbon dioxide and produce 3000 tons of oxygen.
  • Hyundai – The auto manufacturer introduced solar-embedded windshield, which they have patented. The windshield has an electric awning made of solar cells placed within the inner and outer layers. The panels collect solar energy, which can charge the car battery up to 60%. Hyundai is also conducting research on an interactive windshield display technology, AI-enabled and capable of emotion recognition. The car will be able to entertain the user by recognizing the emotion.
  • Toyota – In collaboration with Sharp and NEDO, Toyota is engaged in research on solar-embedded car body panel. These thin solar panels, which will be about 0.3 MM thick, can be placed on the roof of the car and other curved surfaces to charge car batteries. 
  • Ford – The company is working on an interactive windshield that can be converted into a projection screen. With a drop-down projector, the car can have a small movie theatre within.

Impact on Market 

Air purification and power generation technologies have been commercialized and have entered the market. Goods delivery vehicles already have air purification systems. These will soon become a common feature on regular vehicles as well, as the systems can be easily retrofitted. This potential can be leveraged by after market component providers to obtain better visibility on the market.

Installation of a power generation system is not that easy and will depend on the expertise of players across the supply chain to provide the needed panels and parts. Distributors, suppliers, glass companies, component manufacturers and aftermarket service providers must study the new innovations and strategize accordingly. 

Conclusion

It is essential for car utility to be high as it impacts the automotive industry. Auto companies and associated industries operating in this domain must evaluate sustainable solutions to use parked cars efficiently. Companies need to work on producing models and solutions that are environmentally and socially acceptable. 



Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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