The Fuel and Electric Showdown

The history of the automobile emphasizes luxury, comfort and aesthetics over performance, power, speed and safety. This is true for your original need: transportation and transportation. However, if we consider buying a car with more horsepower that is safe for everyday use and provides more mileage, gasoline cars are the best option, both for roads and racetracks.

The theory is not simply wild speculation or a desktop projection, it is a simulation of the real world. UC Davis recently launched the “EV Project” which allowed car users to simulate their journey in an EV (Electric Vehicle) compared to a gasoline vehicle. The project found that a 50-mile round trip could save an electric 2014 Chevrolet Volt owner about $ 1,000 in annual fuel costs compared to driving a gas-powered 2014 Ford Focus. However, pure electric cars are more expensive than their gasoline counterparts. For example, a 2018 Ford Focus costs less than $ 18,000, while the 2018 Chevrolet Volt will cost consumers more than $ 34,000 and the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt will fetch more than $ 38,000. Solving the equation in this hypothetical scenario, it would take more than 17 years for a Chevy owner to recoup the additional costs of purchasing an electric. In other words, electric vehicles are not suitable for users who plan to hold the vehicle for a long period of time. Electric vehicles also cost more upfront than gasoline cars. They need a supporting charging infrastructure, plug-in accessibility, and specialized maintenance shops, which are not yet adequate to meet growing consumer demand.

Additional concern is flavored when it comes to mileage and range. On a single charge, most elite electric vehicles like the Tesla Model X, Model S, Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt, and 2018 Nissan Leaf can run just 225 miles on average in an ideal scenario. This number can be as low as 170 on hot or cold days with the heating or air conditioning running at full blast. Hybrids and gasoline-based cars are better options in this case. To harness the full potential of hybrids, some car buyers opt for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). A 2018 Chevrolet Volt, for example, has 53 miles of electric range and a conventional gas tank for longer trips of up to 420 miles.

It is true that electric vehicles are environmentally friendly, but not necessarily clean, since electricity is generated in some way. It is comparable to using the same fossil fuel, just cleaner. Electric vehicles run on a lithium-ion battery, which must be pulled out of the ground. Chemically, lithium is a corrosive alkali metal that removes dangerous gaseous by-products when it comes into contact with moisture, increasing environmental pollution. In application, this can cause EVs to emit dangerous gases or even catch fire if stored in cold weather or not properly maintained. The current electrical infrastructure of such technology does not foresee the reuse of batteries or the recalibration of disposal costs. Fuel-based cars can be easily rebuilt, their engines changed, and fuels filtered; but not currently with an electric.

The “Transport of the Future” technology is still young and expensive than its gas-based cousins. Electric vehicles may be easier to charge, but they cost more in the medium and long term. Even the most advanced electric vehicle batteries wear out over time and need frequent replacement. For such a replacement, the Tesla Model 3 battery pack costs $ 190 per kWh and the Chevy Bolt battery pack costs $ 205 per kWh. Charging stations are another link in sustaining electric vehicles. In a state of euphoria, consumers can skip filling stations and ‘fill’ their electric vehicle from a charging station on the way to work or via an additional solar panel at home. In reality, while gas stations can be found every 1 mile on a normal highway, electric vehicle battery charging stations may not be found as often. People who live in apartments or condos may find it difficult to obtain charging add-ons. At a high cost, plugins are now available only in the most advanced countries, such as the US and Western Europe. Not to mention, this becomes a deal breaker for many new buyers and gives car owners a headache in developing countries.

The eternal debate gains a lot of force on the subject of car safety. In theory, electric vehicles consume less fuel than gasoline cars. However, once they catch fire, electric vehicles are difficult to put out. In October 2017, a Tesla Model S caught fire after crashing into a concrete barrier on the Ahlberg Expressway in Austria. The incident required 35 firefighters to extinguish the blaze. Recently, on March 23, 2018, a Tesla Model X collided head-on into an unshielded median on Highway 101 in California and caught fire. The fire closed the road for 5 hours, which became a nightmare for firefighters. EV engines are not responsible for such disastrous accidents. The powerful villains are lithium-ion batteries that can fuel hotter fires and release intense heat and are more difficult to extinguish. Battery fires also generate a variety of gases, fumes and toxic gases that pose a greater danger to commuting and the environment. Today, only a handful of staff members at electric vehicle manufacturers have the expertise to address such hazards and electrical emissions. State firefighters and commuters in general are not always aware of this ‘tech savvy’ as EVs do not come with a detailed ‘101 manual on how to put out your electric vehicle fire’!

The recent crashes are bringing back the debate about whether electric vehicles are safer than diesel and gasoline vehicles when it comes to safety. In black and white, the Tesla Model X may have a perfect score for the crash test safety rating. But practical experiences and records always turn out stronger than rainbow promises and whitewashed lab results. With technological advancement, electric vehicles may herald the transportation revolution for decades to come. The replacement cost of battery packs can drop to as low as $ 73 per kWh after 2030 and current range anxiety may become a thing of the past. Hybrids and electric vehicles can offer greater options and more convenience for the demanding consumer and new business configuration. But at this stage, if we consider road safety to travel without tension, it is easier to bet on ‘combustion’ engines than on battery-powered engines.