Electric cars are just a fad – they’re never going to replace the internal combustion engine; history has proven that already – the first electric production vehicle actually pre-dates the accepted 1886 Karl Benz creation ‘Benz Patent-Motorwagen’ by two years, and people soon realised that range was limited, as was power and the ability to recharge on the go.
There’s been over a century of development with ICE (Internal Combustion Engine), this has led to more power, greater reliability, less emissions and lifecycles that never seem to end – what can electric cars claim? A ‘good’ one (read: expensive) can just about make it from London to Manchester before you’re in for a long wait while it recharges.
The electrical myth
That sort of thinking was commonplace a decade or so ago; electric vehicles were an expensive toy that seemed to be the vehicle of choice for those that could afford to be principled, that didn’t really need a car for daily transport, or for those that wanted to make a statement.
Today, that has changed somewhat; electric vehicle sales are on the increase, the technology powering them has taken giant strides forward, and prices are almost comparable to their fossil-fuelled counterparts, in fact I’d hazard a guess that across the complete lifetime of vehicle ownership, they’d work out cheaper.
Whether you’re for or against, the electric vehicle movement is happening, and most industry experts say that they’ll be dominant in the next decade – the internal combustion engine development cycle is already slowing, most manufacturers shifting their focus to the cleaner, and let’s be honest, corporate image enhancing BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles).
BEVs in numbers
With that said, there’s still a surprising amount of misinformation doing the rounds when it comes to electric cars and hybrids; LV= surveyed 2,004 UK adults to try and paint a picture of electric car usage, and the results were surprising.
One in ten people believe that a full electric vehicle can’t be used in the rain due to risk of electric shock, nearly double that figure believe that you can’t use a car wash (presumably for the same reason) and somewhere between the two are the people that think electric cars aren’t allowed to be driven on a motorway.
Amongst the ‘uninformed’ opinions, there were some very real concerns relating to battery range, pricing and manufacturing methods (51% of respondents said they’d worry about running out of charge), but the largest number of interviewees (55%) thought that electric vehicles just couldn’t compare with the outright power of diesel and unleaded.
While it seems that the ‘motor vehicle’ has been made scapegoat for a number of environmental issues, and the motorist being made to quite literally pay for the damage caused by them is a common theme, we shouldn’t believe that electric vehicles will be the saviour of the planet – consider it more as a sticking plaster fix, even more so in the short term.
Many environmentalists forget that the national grid will struggle if every motorist adopted an electric vehicle overnight, that the charging infrastructure simply isn’t in place, or that it’s necessary to use (and therefore mine) precious elements like cobalt for batteries, which is in short supply.
There’s also a question over what’s going to happen to the thousands of batteries when they’ve reached their end of life, and that while the vehicle itself may be emission-free, the process to make it or charge it isn’t – you’re simply shifting the emissions to a different part of the supply line.
There’s no doubting that a number of points raised by motorists are very real; range can be lacking under certain circumstance, charging still takes longer than refuelling, extreme temperatures can have an affect on range, but a great many of these ‘problems’ are fast becoming non-issues, and we shouldn’t forget that serious development of electric vehicles has only been happening for around 15 years.
Electric development today
Within those 15 years, we’ve seen ranges extended from less than 50 miles to hundreds of miles, battery prices falling from around £750 per kWh to approximately £150 per kWh, charging times lessened with many manufacturers offering an 80% charge within 30 minutes, and of course, huge infrastructure developments and investments so that the actual act of recharging is more available.
Realistically, buying an electric vehicle is a real alternative for many people if they’re already in the market for a new(er) car, and with government incentives available to help with the purchase price and the installation of a charger at home, not only is it a realistic alternative, but a viable one.
What do you think of electric vehicles? Is it something that you’re interested in? Or are you in the 18% that have said they’ll never own one? Let us know in the comments.