Modern car manufacturers market electric vehicles with a green label and promise it to be the future of transport. The large-scale manufacture of electric vehicles is widely regarded as a suitable strategy to address significant sustainability shortfalls of the transport sector, mainly its contribution to air pollution and climate change and its dependency on non-renewable fossil fuels.
Electric vehicles are predicted to be the next disruptive force for transportation and technology. The advent of electric cars has called for an improvement in overall energy usage. Electric vehicles have several advantages over conventional passenger cars equipped with combustion engine vehicles:
- Electric vehicles are 75 percent more efficient in turning input energy into moving energy, while gas-powered cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) are only 25 percent efficient.
- Electric vehicles do not exhibit tailpipe emissions.
- Electric car brakes don’t function the same way gas-powered car brakes do; they have regenerative braking, allowing the car to charge the battery while braking.
- Electric vehicles, having fewer parts to fuel energy through, undergo less energy conversion.
Electric vehicles have been promoted for the past decade; there has been a criticism that they may shift emissions from vehicle use to vehicle production and electricity generation, thereby potentially increasing environmental and health impacts. Electric vehicles are a paragon emphasizing assessing a product’s influence over the life cycle instead of the operation phase only.
The main disadvantage of an electric vehicle is the energy storage system, the high voltage battery. Compared to diesel fuels and gasoline and petrol, the energy stored in a storm is ten times less for the same volume. For a battery-electric car, with the current performance of battery cells, to have a decent range (above 200 – 300 km), the high voltage battery pack will turn out to be quite heavy and bulky.
Also, in cold environments, the range of an electric vehicle is further decreased due to the degradation of battery performance and significant electrical energy usage for heating. Another major disadvantage of a battery electric vehicle is the recharge time of the battery.
If for an internal combustion engine-powered vehicle, fuel refilling takes on average around 5 minutes; on the other hand, in a battery-powered vehicle, the recharge can take between 30 minutes (“fast charging”) and 8 – 10 hours (“normal charging”).
Charging infrastructure is currently an issue for battery electric vehicles, and there is a need for more charging points which should accommodate the increasing number of electric cars.
A battery-electric vehicle has significant obstacles to overcome in energy storage, battery lifetime, and charging infrastructure. Nevertheless, progress is being made in all areas—for example, a net increase (year-on-year) of charging points and locations across the UK.
Also, in the United States of America, the number of electric vehicle charging points has increased dramatically between 2012 and 2017. More effort is still necessary, considering that the USA is a vast country with significant distance between the major cities.
Electric vehicles are considered to lower emissions over their lifetime than cars running on fossil fuels, regardless of the sources that generate that electricity. Electric cars, as they currently stand, are much less polluting than their combustion engine counterparts. As technology becomes more advanced, it is likely to become even more efficient and sustainable.
Economies of scale will benefit electric vehicle manufacturing by providing better infrastructure, recycling options, more efficient manufacturing techniques, and reducing the need to use new materials. By 2022 electric vehicles will cost the same as their internal combustion counterparts.