As time passes by, and our daily lives become more hectic, cars, planes, trains, and ships are having a growing impact on the climate. A quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions is generated by transportation. In 2016, transportation (including ships, aircraft, and railroads) in the United States alone produced more carbon dioxide emissions than any other sector. Shifting from gas-powered vehicles to those that run on electricity will play a key role in curtailing climate change – in order for countries to minimize carbon emissions. 100 million electric vehicles (EV) must be on the road by 2030.
Electric vehicles run on battery power. Whenever it reaches a low battery status, it has to be charged at home or a charging station.
While EVs are in motion, they are clean since it doesn’t emit carbon dioxide or any other pollutant. But then, how clean these EVs are depend on how the electricity powering them is generated. For example, a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists says that EVs that generate power from renewable power sources like wind or solar which produces virtually no global warming emission. Even then, EVs powered by electricity generated mainly from coal produced fewer global warming emissions than a fossil-fueled vehicle averaging 27 miles per gallon.
Although upfront costs of EVs are higher than fossil-fueled vehicles, EVs can be cheaper to maintain since it doesn’t require oil changes or regular maintenance. In addition, electric vehicles can save $750 to $1,200 a year on fueling compared to a fossil fuel vehicle averaging 27 miles per gallon.
In the United States alone, electric vehicle sales are increasing, reaching almost 200,000 in 2017 – a 25% increase over 2016.
Many countries such as Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, and the Netherlands have announced plans to ban fossil fuel cars starting 2030; Britian, France, Taiwan, and California will ban them in 2040; and Norway in 2025. Meanwhile, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City will ban them diesel vehicles in 2025.
China, the world’s biggest car market, will no longer approve any new fossil fuel car projects. A policy effective in 2019, requires automakers that manufacture or import over 30,000 vehicles per year to earn fuel-consumption credits and achieve quotas for producing zero and low-emission vehicles. China will also soon ban fossil fuel vehicles and will soon phase them out on the island of Hainan in a test run. Beijing, the capital of China, wants at least 20% of their vehicle production to be electric and hybrid by 2025.
As we know by now, EVs are cheaper to run and maintain than fossil fuel cars since they have fewer moving parts. The next big challenges to tackle are range anxiety and charging time. Most EVs can run between 50 to 200 miles on one battery charge. When electric vehicles reach 700 miles per charge – which may not take long, considering EV ranges have already doubled within the past three to four years – it will be a game-changer.
Battery makers are working to improve to enhance battery energy density to make it lighter and the chemistry of lithium batteries so they don’t require as much toxic material. These developments will significantly lessen the environmental impacts of electric vehicles and improve their efficiency.
A number of charging innovations are in the works too. Such as wireless charging pads in parking lots, wireless charging under roadways and solar roofs.
Also, the more renewable energy sources there are, the cleaner electric vehicles will get. In addition, as batteries improve, wind and solar power will become more reliable.
The electric vehicle revolution is coming. It’s not question if “if”, it’s a question of “when”.
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