There is no doubt that electric cars are coming, and that they could make a big difference to amount of C02 in the atmosphere. However, the rate at which they will take to the road is in doubt. And when you look more deeply into the impact on the environment, there are some that point to the fact that the batteries used in these vehicles are not exactly environmentally friendly either.
There is also the fact that the electricity used to power these cars has to be generated in some manner. If renewables are used then that is fine, but if not, then all you have done is to move the pollution from one area to another.
Whilst on the subject of pollution, it has to be mentioned that exhaust fumes are only a part of the ‘nasties’ that are emitted from any vehicle. Besides the CO, CO2 and Nitrogen dioxide, there are rubber particles from the tyres and various metals from the brake pads and discs.
Saying this however, it is the exhaust fumes that are the worst polluter, these potentially causing some 79,000 premature deaths in Europe every year.
With these sorts of figures, it is easy to see why Governments want to see more electric cars on the road as soon as possible.
However, this is not as easy as it sounds, figures showing that in the USA even if car makers move to producing electric cars, and ensure that 25% of new cars are powered by electricity by 2035, the number of electric cars on the road at that time will still be only 13%.
The reason for this is simple, cars now last longer than ever before (over 10 years now), so the delay before all vehicles are electric is going to be counted in decades, this target potentially not being reached until 2060 in the USA.
It is possible to reach this figure earlier, but only if only electric vehicles are the only ones that can be bought by 2035, not the 25% mooted in the USA. The good news here is that this is the case in the UK, but will this be enough when you consider the issue from the perspective of the whole World?
So, we can see that in the UK it is going to be impossible to buy anything other than a EV or Hybrid car from 2030 and only an electric vehicle from 2035. This will still leave combustion engined cars on the road until around 2045. Their use will no doubt be curtailed by lots of emission zones and charges but they are still going to be about for many years yet, adding the level of CO2 at a time when the planet can least afford it.
Electric cars will dominate the road eventually, and even today many are being bought. But many people are still buying gas guzzlers and shying away from an electric only vehicle. Some people also hold the opinion that hybrids, especially mild hybrids, are really just a way of reducing tax payments and are of little use in reality, the electric engines only being used for a fraction of the time.
So, buying a Hybrid may not be the answer, especially from the Planets point of view, which means that we all have to think about buying an electric car.
So why are they not selling as fast as they might?
Well from what I can see, there are two major factors. One is the cost; EV’s are still very expensive when compared to fossil fuel powered cars, even when any Government grants are taken into account.
The biggest reason, though is that of range. If you talk to a technically minded person (a geek) then they will quickly tell you not to believe the ranges quoted in the brochures. In most (all) instances, they really over estimate the number of miles you will cover before needing to recharge.
Some are more honest than others, for instance the information that Skoda give you about ranges is very detailed. This is good, but it also demonstrates the different ranges that a full charge will give you. Temperature, time of day, driving style, number of passengers all affect the miles you can go before you need a recharge, and if you start towing anything you can halve any range quoted.
This is called ‘Range Anxiety and is a real concern to many. When this matter is raised to anyone selling cars, they are quick to say that the number of charging points is increasing everyday and is set to explode over the next few years. The major supermarkets are even in the process of installing free charging points, and more businesses are sure to follow suit.
When you couple this with the fact that the batteries in cars are getting better all the time, there is no doubt that the future of electric cars is bright, which is indeed good news for the planet. All these factors will soon reach that ‘tipping point’, where range anxiety is balanced by higher powered batteries, faster charging times and more charging points. When that point is reached, expect the number of electric cars on the road to dramatically increase.
So, we can see that in the near future electric cars are going to rule the road, but if you want to have a look into the past, when British Cars ruled the roads all around the World, then there is one place in the UK that you just have to visit. Its called the Great British Car Journey and if you love old cars, you just have to go!