The NMA Foundation presents The Car of the Future weekly feature:
Forget the driverless car revolution—the real revolution will be electric vehicles or EVs. (Or Not)
As more governments around the world regulate gas and diesel engined cars, electric cars will become more attractive to buyers. According to a new study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, EVs could well be competitive price wise with internal-combustion cars by the year 2025.
Hold your horses though—Business Insider says the Bloomberg study got it wrong. People will still own stuff including things that are not used all the time like cars. Currently one percent of the global sales on cars are electric and in the last two years, 34 million cars (internal-combustion) have been sold in the U.S. alone. They don’t believe that this trend towards EVs is real.
Business Insider claims that the problem with EVs is that ever since they have been on sale for close to ten years, they have been supported by governmental incentives which have not made them any more attractive. A country like Norway, which has the highest per capita ownership of EVs, has however been somewhat successful encouraging car owners to switch.
In order for EVs to flourish they need not necessarily be individually owned. Business Insider believes that it won’t be you and I buying EVs in the revolution but rather fleet managers who will build an electrical vehicle system built for general ridesharing or even carsharing use.
Despite this back and forth, electric vehicles still have obstacles to achieve worldwide domination.
- Costs to own and operate
- Range Anxiety (battery capacity for total miles before charging)
- Battery charging speed
- Electricity infrastructure
- Performance Acceptance by drivers
Costs to own and operate
Due to the allure of Tesla, EVs have the reputation of being out of reach for most drivers. EVs currently have a price differential to gas/diesel powered vehicles due to how much the batteries cost which is up to half the price of the car. The Bloomberg study however indicates that the price of electric batteries will plummet 77 percent by 2030. By 2025, the cost of EV car batteries will be low enough that EVs can compete pricewise with gas/diesel powered vehicles.
More and more states are creating an additional yearly fee for EVs and Hybrids since owners do not participate in paying a gas tax. This trend will continue as one of the operating costs.
Maybe as the Business Insider indicated in their retort, the rank and file car user won’t be owning an EV but instead belong to a service provider. Shared mobility is the incoming wave but with most waves, this one will perhaps soon run its course whenever shared mobility turns out to be less convenient and more expensive.
According to a U.S. News and World Report, ten current EV models charge range goes from about 80 up to 335 miles. Tesla currently has the highest range vehicle but that is with a larger battery. Volkswagen and several other companies want to compete with Tesla in the near future. Volkswagen announced in April that they are developing an EV with a similar range to Tesla that takes 30 minutes to charge.
Battery Charging Speed
Overnight charging works for many drivers but if a driver needs to charge during the day, planning ahead is key since the wait may be anywhere between 30 minutes to several hours. On a French test track last month, Qualcomm (San Diego based company) demonstrated its vision of dynamic electric vehicle which is essentially recharging while in motion. This of course, is the Holy Grail of electric vehicles and might change the entire ball game if it can work for every EV every time.
Currently, there are over 30,000 charging stations in the United States and the number climbs every year. How EVs will affect the nation’s electric grid is still a question that cannot be answered. Another issue on this front is that EVs claim to be zero emissions. Of course, the vehicle itself will not emit noxious fumes, but the obviously the EV energy source is not zero emissions since a good portion of our electricity comes from coal. When and if more renewable energy sources come online, this might change that dynamic.
Performance Acceptance by drivers
Everyone who likes to drive will probably not be happy with the total driving experience that you have with an internal-combustion engine. Electric cars are quiet and don’t have that surging sound that gives one a fun thrill. No stick shifts and no worries about pings and pangs from the engine. The get up and go might be similar but too quiet perhaps.
Electric cars could be the next wave but acceptance is still up for grabs and no amount of hand wringing will change that even if the experts continue to shout that this is a revolution of sorts.
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