Electric Cars Will Rule the Road

Fossil fuels are a limited resource that will eventually run out. It’s a fact, but steps are being taken to replace fossil fuels with synthetic products made from organic materials like corn and algae. The boom in alternative fuel research is fueled by the high price of fossil fuels and the need for cleaner alternatives. Basically, it now makes financial sense to develop alternatives. This is the same motivation for the research and development of hybrid and all-electric vehicles.

Electric cars have the greatest impact in reducing the demand for fossil fuels, while at the same time providing greater benefits to the environment.

To be clear, the definition of electric car is a vehicle driven by one or more electric motors that uses electrical energy stored in some type of energy storage device such as a battery. An electric car with both an electric and internal combustion engine is a hybrid and is not classified as an electric vehicle.

The world’s first real electric car was made in 1888 by the German manufacturer Flocken Elektrowagen. Electric cars were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Technological advances in internal combustion engines, coupled with the cheaper mass production of internal combustion engine vehicles, led to the decline of electric vehicles. During the fuel crises of the 1970s and 1980s, interest in electric cars revived, but was short-lived. Electric cars of the ’70s and ’80s were expensive, had huge batteries and slow charging, and had limited range of travel even when fully charged. With so much against them, these early electric cars never went into mass production. However, since 2008, developments in battery technology and smaller, lighter and more efficient electric motors have made their way into electric vehicle production. With rising crude oil prices and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions recognized by the public, sales of electric cars have been increasing year-on-year in the last 5 years.

The benefits of electric cars over vehicles with internal combustion engines are a significant reduction in air pollution, because cars with electric engines do not emit exhaust pipe pollutants. The reduction in greenhouse gases slows down global warming by reducing the rate at which the ozone layer is depleted. The overall lower consumption of fossil fuels also reduces reliance on foreign oil, which reduces concerns about oil prices and supply disruptions.

Electric cars still face hurdles. The predominant barriers are the higher cost of ownership, the lack of recharging infrastructure, and drivers’ fear of running out of batteries before they reach their destination. However, these shortcomings are quickly remedied. Many service stations and many cities are establishing charging facilities. More charging possibilities will remove “range anxiety”, i.e. worrying about running out of batteries before they reach a destination. All new technologies are costly when first introduced, but as demand increases and then production increases, their purchase price drops. The gap between electric cars and fossil fuel vehicles is already closing.

Japan was the leader in electric car sales in 2012, with a 28% global market share. This was followed by the USA with 26%, China with 16%, France with 11% and Norway with 7%. Here is a list of current production passenger cars and commercial vehicles with highway capability:

  1. Mitsubishi I MiEV
  2. Chery QQ3 EV
  3. Chery JAC J3 EV
  4. tazari zero
  5. Nissan Leaf
  6. Nissan Smart
  7. Wheego Whip Life
  8. Mia Electric
  9. Volvo C30 Electric
  10. BYD e6
  11. Bollore Bluecar
  12. Renault Kangoo Z.E.
  13. Renault Fluence ZE
  14. Renault Zoe
  15. Ford Focus Electric
  16. BMW Active E
  17. Tesla Model S
  18. Honda Fit EV
  19. RAV4 EV
  20. Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV
  21. E50
  22. Mahindra e2o
  23. Chevrolet Spark EV
  24. Fiat 500e
  25. Volkswagen e-Up!
  26. BMW i3

It’s an impressive list, but many more electric cars are in the planning stages, and huge amounts of research and development are invested in electric vehicles by all automakers. As electric vehicle production increases, prices will become more comparable to internal combustion engine and hybrid vehicles.

As more electric vehicles take the demand for fossil fuels and alternative synthetic fuels to the streets, it will slow down and prolong the life of oil reserves. This is important because although vehicles burn a lot of oil, plastic, lubricant, etc. producers have few alternative raw materials that can replace oil. Without crude oil, the products that determine our current lifestyle and standard of living will change drastically.

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