The Outlook for Electric Vehicles
The race to the electric car
The technology behind zero-emission vehicles has come a long way in the last decade, and so have their design and accessibility. E-vehicles have been touted as the next big thing, slated to eventually replace internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles completely. Many new formats and models are being designed and launched on the global market – each one sleeker, more efficient, and faster than its predecessor.
Are electric vehicles there yet?
Several important barriers to adoption exist today, which makes convincing drivers to give up on ICEs a formidable challenge. Though many projections pointed to 2020 becoming the year of electric vehicles, their proliferation has fallen short not only due to the global Covid-19 crisis and its economic consequences, but also thanks to several growing concerns regarding consumer readiness to embrace the technology. Let’s take a look at the main ones below.
The most significant hurdle for the industry to overcome is the cost of electric car batteries. The materials used to build these batteries are costly and so is producing them. Aside from the higher-end Teslas, most mid-range e-vehicles are still more expensive than traditional diesel-powered engines. Opportunities for economies of scale are limited, as global demand for e-vehicles isn’t where it should be yet. E-vehicles will likely remain costly until we start buying more of them.
The cost of running and maintaining zero-emission vehicles is yet another deterrent. Once a hybrid car battery is out of warranty, any potential technical problems could be costly for e-vehicle owners to diagnose, repair, or replace. This adds to consumer wariness and lack of certainty.
Finally, the infrastructure for parking and charging e-vehicles is yet to catch up in many markets. Charging stations in public areas are still few and far between; often the cost of using them is also prohibitive. Thus, electric vehicle ownership remains a prerogative for the wealthy. Many hybrid vehicle owners today admit to rarely running their vehicles on electricity, due to the high costs and low running times on a single charge. It’s clear that e-vehicles have a long way to go if they are to go mainstream and replace fuel-powered engines.
The role of governments in e-vehicle proliferation
In Europe, commitment to achieve climate neutrality by the year 2050 is nearly unanimous. This ambitious goal requires a drastic change in energy use, including near-zero reliance on fossil fuels in transportation and industry. The first step in this green deal is adopting wide-scale emission reduction targets to be reached by 2030 – something EU country leaders are yet to agree on.
Meanwhile, e-energy early adopter Norway is making strides towards its carbon neutrality goals, which it aims to achieve by 2030. Measures include electrifying road transport, increasing the country’s hydropower generating capacity, and reducing deforestation. In 2018, the market share of e-vehicles in Norway reached 31%, and in 2019 the share of newly sold e-vehicles reached 56%. These developments are already having a positive impact on reducing emissions.
Outside of Europe, China is the fastest growing market for e-vehicles worldwide. The country has registered significant progress towards adopting electric vehicles and is well poised to become fossil fuel-independent in the next few decades. Big cities are racing to adopt e-bicycles, e-buses, and e-cars to ease congestion and reduce pollution, all while stimulating the economy.
The future of electricity-powered transportation
One thing is certain: due to the consequences we are suffering as a result of climate change and the volatile state of fossil fuels, we need to gradually phase out our reliance on them. Though zero-emission transportation still has challenges to overcome, government incentives and infrastructure improvements can help bring on this much needed change for the planet’s sake.
Thanks to ongoing advances in AI, self-driving vehicles and electric battery tech, we will see a deeper proliferation of fossil fuel-independent transportation. Once we start enjoying a lower carbon footprint and safer roads, we will also be able to accomplish more, while on-the-go. Multi-tasking, conversing, working, planning or simply relaxing will be made easier thanks to smart in-car apps that can make the journey to work or home more productive and more pleasant, too. The future of transportation is smart, green, and free of fossil-fueled vehicles.