This past week, I was invited to an event presented by the Business Growth Hub and hosted by Avensure on how companies can supercharge their business by improving their green credentials.
The event was held at the Tesla showroom in Knutsford and featured a jam-packed panel with speakers from The National Trust, The Manchester Climate Agency, The Growth Company and The Big Partnership. Besides sharing a love of ‘The’ in the title of their companies, they are the ‘who’s who’ of ‘who cares’ about making your business a little bit greener.
The panel went as expected and a lot of good arguments were made for why businesses need to reduce their carbon footprint and why green is the new black. Although it may surprise you to hear that there isn’t a quick fix and it’s going to require an investment of time, money and energy that few SMEs will be able to afford.
The elephant in the room
The event was well attended, especially for a Thursday evening in Knutsford, discussing the same issues that were prevalent two years ago. The reason why so many people gave up their evening was the location of the event. Tesla.
The showroom featured only two Tesla models, the S and the X – the E must have been in the back. As someone who has written numerous articles about Tesla and their autonomous driving technology, I never really gave the aesthetics of the vehicle much thought. That was until I saw one in the flesh. Both models were stunning in their design, although the falcon wings on the X would appeal more to a footballer in Alderley Edge than Tina and her two kids at Tesco.
Considering how much we (and I assume others) go on about distractions while driving, it was still surprising to see a tablet built into the centre console that Tim Cook would be proud of. It’s bad enough that drivers can still use mobile phones while driving, but when you put, what is essentially, an iPad Pro at your drivers’ fingertips do you really expect them not to use it while driving?
Gone in 2.3 seconds
As the panel took place my eyes were pulled to a large screen behind the panellists. A presentation rolled through featuring stats that would make a nun use the lords name in vain. 0-60 in 2.3 seconds, 385 miles on a single charge, self-diagnostics on faults and being able to book your next service via the Tesla pad (trademark, probably) all mounted up to the type of green thinking business owners could get behind.
Charging points litter the country and Tesla’s promise of more super charging points that can take your car to 50% in 20 minutes or 100% in 75 minutes, alleviate some of the cons of electric vehicles. Regardless, it’s not the speed, energy consumption or design that makes me excited about the car, it’s something else entirely.
During a moment with a Tesla staff member, I pressed him on the subject of autonomous driving. I wasn’t interested in cruise control or automated parking, I wanted to know when the car would be able to go and pick up my kids from school and bring them back while I made the tea (I’m a modern man). Imagine my surprise when he told me that was possible now.
Tesla vehicles have five levels of automated driving. We are currently enjoying level two / three, whereby the car can drive itself but someone must be able to take control at a moment’s notice. Level five is the ability for the car to drive itself without the need for someone to take control at any point in the journey, technically the driver doesn’t even need to be in the car.
The employee, who I shall not name for legal reasons and my failure to ask him what it was, told me that level five was a simple flick of a switch (figuratively), but they are unable to do this until insurance companies agree on how to cover cars using this method. For example, how do you claim against a driver when it’s possible there isn’t one?
Elon Musk believes it’ll be two years till we’re in a level five position. Personally, I think that’s wishful thinking from someone who is looking to sell more cars. I see no incentive for insurance companies to give this any serious thought, especially considering the potential headaches it is likely to cause.
With impressive tech comes eye watering numbers. If you want the Tesla Model S, (the one throwing up the impressive numbers), you’re looking at a cash price in the range of £122,000. Alternatively, you may want the Model X with all the bells and whistles and the falcon wing doors to impress Tina at Tesco’s, better add a further £16k to the Model S price.
While you are inevitably going to save money down the line on petrol and road tax, the future of automated and luxurious driving is still going to be a way off for the majority. The idea that driverless cars will become the norm is a future that seems as attainable as Donald Trump suddenly becoming unimpeachable.
My belief is that manufacturers are holding back on releasing this tech in their vehicles until they know that insurance companies are in a position to cover it. Without them, it would be the equivalent of making the world’s greatest carrot cake for someone with a nut allergy.
The future is truly in the hands of Tesla, how they make their vehicles accessible to the wider public will be the difference between progression and privilege.
Oh, and before I forget, your company should think about their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and also get a Tesla.