Electric cars are going to rule the road

Fossil fuels are a limited resource that will eventually run out. That’s a fact, but progress is being made to replace fossil fuels with synthetic products made from organic material, such as corn and algae. What is driving the explosion in alternative fuel research is 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 fully electric vehicles.

Electric cars have the greatest impact on reducing the demand for fossil fuels and, at the same time, are more beneficial to the environment.

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

The world’s first true electric car was built 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, along with the mass production of internal combustion engine vehicles, making them less expensive, led to the decline of electric vehicles. During the fuel crises of the 1970s and 1980s, interest in electric cars experienced a resurgence, but it was short-lived. Electric cars of the 1970s and 1980s were expensive, batteries were huge and slow to charge, and even when fully charged, the distance they could travel was limited. With so much against it, these early electric cars never went into mass production. However, since 2008, electric vehicle manufacturing has been consolidated with advances in battery technology and smaller, lighter and more efficient electric motors. With the rise in crude oil prices and the publicly recognized need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the last 5 years have seen electric car sales increase year over year.

The benefits of electric cars over those with internal combustion engines are a significant reduction in air pollution because cars powered by electric motors do not emit pollutants in the exhaust pipe. Reducing greenhouse gases reduces the rate at which the ozone layer is depleting, slowing down global warming. Lower overall fossil fuel consumption also reduces dependence on foreign oil, which in turn reduces concerns about oil prices and supply disruptions.

Electric cars still face obstacles. The prevailing obstacles are the higher cost of purchase, the lack of recharging infrastructure and the fear of drivers that their batteries will run out of power before reaching their destination. However, these shortcomings are being addressed quickly. Many service stations and a large number of cities are installing recharging facilities. More recharging facilities will eliminate “range anxiety,” the worry that batteries will run out before reaching a destination. Any new technology is expensive when it is first introduced, but as demand increases, followed by production, purchase prices fall. The gap between electric cars and fossil fuel-powered vehicles is already closing.

The leader in electric car sales in 2012 was Japan with a global market share of 28%. It was followed by the United States with 26% of the market, followed by China with 16%, France with 11% and Norway with 7%. A list of current production passenger cars and utility vehicles that are roadworthy are:

  1. Mitsubishi I MiEV
  2. Chery QQ3 EV
  3. Chery JAC J3 EV
  4. Tazzari zero
  5. Nissan leaf
  6. Smart nissan
  7. Wheego Whip LiFe
  8. Mia electric
  9. Volvo C30 electric
  10. BYD e6
  11. Bollore Bluecar
  12. Renault Kangoo ZE
  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. Roewe E50
  22. Mahindra e2o
  23. Chevrolet Spark EV
  24. Fiat 500e
  25. Volkswagen e-Up!
  26. BMW i3

An impressive list, but many more electric cars are in the planning stages, and all car manufacturers are investing a great deal of research and development in electric vehicles. As the production of electric vehicles increases, the prices will be more comparable to those of hybrid and combustion engine vehicles.

As more electric vehicles hit the streets, demand for fossil fuels and alternative synthetic fuels will slow, extending the life of oil reserves. This is important because although vehicles burn a lot of oil, manufacturers of plastics, lubricants, etc., have few alternative raw materials that can replace oil. Without crude oil, the products that define our current lifestyle and standard of living will change dramatically.