From your newly vegan friends to the growing world protests, it’s hard to ignore the world of climate change. One of the biggest problems is our consumption of fossil fuels to drive our cars. According to the US Energy Independence website around 70% of all oil is used for transportation, and we believe that this figure is probably reflected across the UK and the rest of Europe. Are electric cars the answer?
It’s no wonder then that many people are looking towards electric cars as a step toward sustainability. We desperately need to cut carbon emissions and the oil will not last forever. It’s time to look around for alternatives. So, how do electrical cars measure up?
The Best Things About Electrical Cars
As you would expect electrical cars have come on leaps and bounds in recent years and are now looking pretty competent. We’ve come a long way from the previously bulky vehicles with big batteries that take up all the room in the boot. And these are the best benefits…
- Fewer emissions – we’re not only talking about the lack of exhaust fumes, but with the possibility of powering your electrical car from a solar panel or wind turbine battery, you could be looking at no emissions whatsoever. This has to be the most important benefit of electrical cars and is the one that rightly gets all the attention.
- Direct drive – electric cars don’t need to have a conventional engine, so they use a direct drive system. Once they’re going you won’t have to switch gears or run any danger of stalling. This also means no more noisy engines disturbing the peace in your local neighbourhood. Neither will you have to worry about starting the car early in the morning or turning it over repeatedly when it’s cold.
- Fewer stops at the pumps – nearly every house in the UK is wired for electricity, which means that you’ll be able to plug your electrical vehicle into your home socket, assuming that you have the right interface and a long enough cable. This is also incredibly convenient for ensuring you have enough juice in the batteries to get you where you need to go in the morning. You’ll never wake up and realise that you have to stop at the fuel station before you can make it to work.
- Less maintenance – electric cars have fewer moving parts than modern petrol or diesel driven cars. Couple this with the fact that the motors don’t have to house constant small explosions and you’re looking at a vehicle that doesn’t break down as much or need quite the same levels of service as a standard fossil fuel-powered vehicle. With less need for spares, mechanical work and breakdowns, that’s got to be a good thing?
- Safety features – because of the large batteries in electric cars, the centre of gravity tends to be a little lower. With all the weight distributed around the bottom of the vehicle, this means that the car is more stable on the road and less likely to tilt over even when going round bends at rapid speeds. Crashes aren’t quite so dangerous thanks to the lack of explosive fuels sitting next to your cabin.
And the Downsides of running an electric car
Unfortunately, electric cars still need a lot of work before you’re likely to see them everywhere on the roads. Some of the most prominent negative qualities include the following:
- Prohibitive pricing – although electric cars are going to save the environment from fossil fuel pollution and move into a new age, they can’t yet compete with the low prices of second-hand vehicles and cheap petrol run-arounds.
At the moment electric cars are only really available to those with deep pockets to buy them. Tesla vehicles might look awesome and have some of the top electrical computers systems of any vehicle, but the price needs to come down to bring them to everyone.
- Lithium shortages – what is going to power all these electric cars? The answer is simple. Batteries. Charging stations will top them up at night and the power runs out during the day.
However, there is only a finite supply of lithium. Considering there is around 4kg of it in every battery, if this was adopted as the primary power for vehicles, there could be a potential shortage of lithium. There are other arguments too that suggest certain companies are stockpiling lithium and exaggerated shortages to push up prices.
- Limited range – now we’ve discussed the make-up of batteries, let’s discuss how much power they can hold. Even the best electrical cars can only complete around 300 miles before needing a charge – and that’s your top of the range Tesla cars.
The average is around 180 miles, which is about enough juice to get you from London to Manchester before you need to recharge. Business people and travellers are unlikely to swap their diesel and petrol-powered vehicles until a better alternative is found.
Longer refuelling times – unfortunately, we have not managed to devise a system of recharging that’s the same speed as the pump. Even modern fast charge systems take a few hours to get energy levels up to the maximum.
The World is Changing…
Whether you like the idea of electric cars or not, it looks like they are going to be here soon. There are many different types of vans and even lorries under development. Part of the change may be accompanied by driverless and drive by wire systems that transform your car into a single carriage on a kind of new-age tram system. With modern fuel-based motoring on the way out – a bolder, safer transportation paradigm will benefit us all.