The automotive industry is in the midst of a fairly seismic transformation. You might have seen evidence of it on your street: charging stations are starting to appear on driveways, and number-plates are beginning to feature those little green squares which indicate an electric vehicle (or EV).
Among the major benefits of electric cars is that they don’t pollute the environment to anywhere near the same extent. But is the hype around this solution really justified? Let’s examine the trend more closely.
What’s an EV?
An EV is any vehicle that’s powered entirely through an onboard battery. This is much bigger than the battery that’s attached to the starter motor of an internal combustion vehicle. Electric Vehicles are distinct from hybrid ones, which employ a combination of internal-combustion and electric locomotion.
Benefits of an EV
We’ve already mentioned the environmental upside to an electric vehicle. Since you’re not burning any oil in the vehicle itself, you don’t need to worry about exhaust fumes spilling out of the back and messing up the ecosystem, and raising global temperatures. Of course, electric vehicles need to get their energy from somewhere, and if that somewhere is a fossil-fuel burning power plant, then there’s still reason to be sceptical.
With that said, the general efficiency of an EV puts it at an advantage, even when this is the case. The Volkswagen Up, for example, can cover more than 5 miles on a single kwh. As the efficiency of batteries increases over time, we should expect to see this gap widen. Moreover, the energy cost of manufacturing a given battery should lessen over time as economies of scale begin to kick in.
You don’t need to sacrifice drivability for the sake of an electric vehicle, with just about every major manufacturer having an electric vehicle of some description to offer.
Should You go Electric?
For most motorists, the electric question is one of when rather than if. Batteries are almost certain to get more efficient over time, and innovations like solid-state batteries are set to push things forward even further in the future.
Greater production capacity, similarly, is sure to push down the price of driving electric, just as the opposite effect takes hold of the internal-combustion market. With fewer viable petrol stations around, and more charging stations, there will come a point when only classic cars, and those with special historical and sentimental value, are fuelled with traditional petrol and diesel. With the government already having announced plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles in the future, it’s likely that the industry will head in that direction sooner rather than later.