Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment?
The environment is now a constant subject of talk, and the reasons are humans. We having been taking things for granted and now they are coming to bite us in the back. Just a few decades earlier, we were only focused on moving forward and innovating things to better suit and improve our lifestyles.
Transport is one such field in which we have been innovating for more than 100 years now. We never knew it could cause such disruptions in the environment and now we have to adjust ourselves. We have to accept the fact that gasoline cars are harmful to the environment. This makes them harmful for us, and we have to make changes soon.
One possible solution is moving to electric cars and it will be a solution only if everything is done right. Let’s look at why we are shifting and why electric cars can solve problems caused by conventional cars.
Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment?
Electric cars are a simple concept. They have electricity stored in their batteries and this electricity powers the motor that run the wheels of the car. It is like a remote-control car just big enough for people to travel in. But gasoline cars are more complicated to run, they have an engine that produces energy by burning fuel, this energy is used to run the vehicle.
The difference in technology is the reason for all the fuss and debates. Since electric cars don’t burn fuel, they don’t emit any gases. On the contrary, traditional gasoline cars still do.
So obviously you might think that electric cars are better for the environment. It’s not always the case, and I will explain in detail if electric cars are actually better for the environment or if they do cause significant damage to the environment.
Benefits of Electric Cars
Electric cars have benefits and some of these are why they are the future of the automobile industry. They are:
- Reduced Environmental Impact: This is the most important benefit an electric car or vehicle has. They are green vehicles and they help the environment, at least they don’t damage as much as gasoline-based vehicles. They are environmentally friendly because they don’t burn fuel to run and this means no emission of greenhouse gases.
Greenhouses gases trap heat in the atmosphere and this increases the temperature of our planet. This also affects the climate and hence the names Global Warming and Climate Change. Electric cars are some of the technologies to fight against them.
- Electric cars have a lower carbon footprint over their lifetime compared to gasoline cars in almost 95% of the world. Only countries that are fully dependent on non-renewable sources of energy, they can have a worse impact on the environment. But countries are moving towards cleaner greener sources of electricity. This makes electric cars only better to drive and have a lower impact on the environment.
- Reduced Noise Pollution: Electric cars run almost silent. There is no engine and so there are no pistons being pumped or fuel being burnt. Electric cars also have very few moving parts and this allows for silent operation. This can help in noise pollution in crowded cities which can a positive impact on the mental health of the public.
Most states are moving toward renewable and sustainable sources of energy for the production of their electricity and this helps on the long run as charging an electric car in these states will be completely Eco-friendly rather than those that depend on fossil fuel for generation of their electricity.
Disadvantages of E-Cars: Do the Pros Really Make up for the Cons?
The main disadvantage, for now, is that they are costlier than gasoline cars. This makes them a hard sell for customers on a budget. Apart from this, electric cars do cause a certain amount of damage to the environment during their lifetimes.
- Electric cars don’t emit any greenhouse gases while running so this makes the zero-emission vehicles. But they do cause emissions when they are being produced and this emission can be up to 68% more than when gasoline cars are produced.
- Electric cars can also be a source of emissions depending on the source of their electricity. For example, if the source of electricity for an electric is from a coal power plant. The emissions during the production of electricity fall on the back of electric cars.
- Electric cars are also not always clean and this I have explained above. It doesn’t make sense to buy an electric car in a region where electricity is exclusively produced from nonrenewable sources. In this such regions, gasoline cars are better alternatives because of the high emissions during the production of electric cars.
All this may seem like that electric cars are no better than gasoline cars but that’s not true. The significant damage caused by electric cars is primarily during the initial phase of their lives and this can be changed by adopting cleaner energy sources for both the manufacturing and maintenance of electric cars.
Regulating Electric Cars
Policies, incentives and regulation have been introduced by the government in the hopes of speeding up the electric vehicle adoption process. Both the state and the federal government have different policies to help this change:
Owners can avail tax credits of $2500-$7,500 for electric vehicles depending on the battery capacity. This was established by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Converting conventional gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles by retrofitting kits can provide you with up to $4000 for one vehicle.
New Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) encourages the adoption of electric drive technologies. Cars and light trucks from 2012 onward need to have 16% greater fuel economy than 25.5 mpg of the previous year under stricter CAFE standards. CAFE also requires 33% greater fuel economy for vehicles from 2016 over 2011 vehicles. This increases pressure on automobile manufacturers to move to Hybrid and electric vehicle technologies sooner.
At least 47 US states including the District of Columbia have set up regulations to promote electric vehicle usage. And 40 of these 47 states provide tax benefits/rebates for purchases if Hybrid/Electric Vehicles. The district of Columbia along with 13 other states are adopting clear air standards similar to the likes of California. This would need automobile manufactures to reduce greenhouse vehicles by 30%. This would help innovation and adoption of electric vehicles.
As of now, these regulations and policies are an urge to make manufacturers and consumers move to electric vehicles as soon as possible. These restrictions make manufacturers sell at least some zero-emission vehicles for them to meet the standards. Policies like giving tax credits are not going to stay on forever as EVs are becoming more cost-competitive. Universal electrification of roads still has a lot of challenges. These include issues like vehicle licensing, taxation, charging standards and management of grid demand.
The Future of Electric Cars
The future is bright for electric cars, with various innovations in battery technology and production of the vehicles. This will bring down the costs further and that is a win for the consumer.
Better production yields and battery technology will help the fight against climate change. Electric cars are slowly going to phase out conventional gasoline-based vehicles. Hybrid vehicles may still be a thing, because of their lower emissions and better fuel efficiency when compared to conventional cars.
The future will make electric cars affordable and more environmentally friendly. They might probably be the only cars running.
For now, there’s still a lot of development and even regulations required. All the players in the industry need to work together. The government, the manufacturers and consumers have to work towards the dream of an electric future come true.
I feel that electric cars make up for their shortcomings, except for in some niche cases like in Poland where the country exclusively depends on fossil fuel energy. I also think that in the future, the current disadvantages will be diminished because of better technologies, production and the shift to cleaner greener energy.
Only time will tell if electric cars are better for the environment, as of now they are good enough to bring about a change but there are a few issues that still have to be addressed and will take time to be implemented.
Till then we can resort to either hybrid cars or start off with an electric car and hope the changes kick in faster than we anticipated.