Electric vehicles – or EVs for short – are one of the most green and eco-friendly solutions to automotive transportation there has ever been. While this is certainly one of their biggest and most appealing factors, it doesn’t mean these cars are entirely clean.
After all, a fuel source is just one aspect of the car and even then there are a few things to consider. Similarly, the vehicle’s construction and recycling potential must also be considered. While EVs are still a big jump in improvement over the combustion engine, these 5 areas could still use improvement.
The ‘Fuel’ Source
The biggest benefit to EVs is there ability to run off electricity. Yet, this is only ‘green’ so long as owners and drivers are able to ensure the power is generated through sustainable, renewable sources. What is the different, ethically, between using fossil fuels as a power source and using an alternative power source that, itself, is derived from fossil fuels?
Considering that around 80% of power, worldwide, is generated from fossil fuels, a driver’s choice of energy supplier makes a big difference in determining the actual carbon footprint of the vehicle itself. For the many environmentally conscious people, not being able to guarantee where there power is generated represents a significant problem.
Likewise, EVs are powered by lithium-ion batteries, like much of today’s technology, which allows it to provide the high levels of power required. Yet this still requires the relevant material and lithium mining, much like hydrogen production for hybrid cars, is not a naturally renewable solution.
As a natural resource, there are limited amounts of lithium available, leading to extensive operations to find more as the demand goes up. Of course, recycling helps to eliminate much of this, but as long as demand increases, new sources will still be required to help maintain a relevant supply.
They Don’t Answer Every Need
While some progress has been made, it can still be argued there are many vehicle types that don’t have a green, EV option. There are numerous public transport options, such as electric buses, but what about people requiring vans, lorries and other large vehicle goods? Right now there are a few hybrid options, but little in the way of purely electric designs.
Yet, while many manufacturers offer saloon and hatchback cars, these other areas are quietly ignored. These goods vehicles provide a significant amount of pollution in their own right, so why aren’t companies doing more to provide these solutions?
Take, for instance, the possibility of an off-road vehicle. Aside from the lithium-ion battery, the technology already exists: strong suspension, specific tyres for 4×4 vehicles and a high ground clearance design. The only hurdles are weather or not cars can be recharged long enough to survive trips outdoors, yet this is another area that can be readily developed – and arguably is.
Materials And Recycling
Furthermore, when it comes to recycling, few companies openly discuss where the materials used in their car comes from. By now, many vehicle manufacturers do, in fact, recycle. Ford, for instance, produces around 30,000 trucks from recycled aluminium each month.
Yet what about the other materials? Cars feature large amounts of glass, rubber and plastic in their design. All of which can be recycled, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. Not only do some of the leading EV manufacturers not use as much recycled goods as possible, they still use rare earth metals in their design.
Driving And Consumer Habits
Perhaps one of the biggest problems for EVs is their expensive pricing. When many people cannot afford a new car, this represents a strong barrier to entry. Even with older cars, a hybrid car costs more, sometimes up to 20% more.
This, then, arguably isn’t making as much of an impacting if it isn’t helping the majority of drivers. When money is a limited factor, many people focus more on what tyre pressure delivers the best fuel economy, or what driving habits will help reduce running costs, rather than entertaining the idea of a brand new purchase.
In fact, when it comes to consumer habits alone, there are many people who are simply afraid of EVs because they are new and different. Despite various incentives and, overall, a reduced impact on the environment, many drivers only change their minds after physically experiencing an EV for themselves.
Of course, the rapidly developing market also has to be considered. As new technology, it’s possible many consumers won’t jump aboard until they’re assured their purchase will remain relevant. Considering that there is plenty of talk about emerging driverless vehicles, the next ‘evolution’ of the automotive industry is already in sight. Why leap on the bandwagon now, when this technology is evidently being developed?
Ultimately, yes, electric transportation represents a significant milestone in moving away from combustion engines and mass emissions. That being said, it is a milestone and there is always room for improvement.