We've heard a lot of great things about electric vehicles (EVs), yet they’re not making that much headway. If they’re as superior as we hear they are, why is it that people have not warmed up to them?
Well, like you, most people have only driven conventional cars all their life, from their grandparents’ old Kingswood to the latest RAM 2500. We grew up knowing only about cars fuelled by either petrol or diesel. It is this familiarity that makes the traditionally-powered cars the default or go-to choice for buyers. Electric cars were reserved for futuristic, sci-fi films.
EV history goes as far back as 1828
But hold your horses! If you think that electric cars are a modern invention, you can think again.
The earliest forms of EVs, which were more like electric carriages, were developed as early as 1828. Production was slow and small scale, but in the early 1900s, EVs became more practical forms of transport and were the rage in those times. One of the earliest models was Porsche’s hybrid Lohner-Porsche Mixte.
At around the same era, petrol-fuelled automobiles were invented. Karl Friedrich Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, two Germans who didn’t know each other, filed their patents in 1886 for the world’s first petrol-powered practical vehicle.
Gas-powered vehicles overtook the EVs in the early 1900s
In 1908, the EV had to take a step back. That was when Ford produced Model T and made it widely available and affordable to the middle class. With the discovery of abundant and cheap petrol and crude oil sources, the more expensive electrically-powered cars were rendered impractical. Demand for EVs started to dwindle until production ceased in 1935.
Meanwhile, diesel and petrol car production flourished to become a massive global industry. Fast forward to this decade, escalating concerns over pollution and fluctuating prices of petrol products indicate that things are about to change. There’s a rekindled interest in EVs again. What we’re seeing is the second wave of electric cars, with much-improved technology.
Why should you consider buying an electric car?
Are you planning to upgrade to a new car? Should you consider an EV? Here are compelling reasons why you should.
1. Lowers impact on the environment
Unlike fossil-fuel-powered automobiles (that’s your diesel or petrol car), EVs do not emit gases and particulates to the environment. The air will be healthier for people to breathe, and reduction in emissions will help mitigate global warming and climate change. Think of it as your small contribution to saving the Earth.
Detractors are quick to say that this claim is not 100% true since electricity in many parts of the world is generated using non-environment-friendly methods. That’s true; however, EVs are only the beginning. The long-term outlook for countries is to produce clean electricity in the near future.
2. Reduces cost of operation
It will end your dependence on the ever-fluctuating oil price. Electricity is so much cheaper than diesel or petrol, and its price is stable. If you have a roof-installed solar PV system that charges your EV, then you can go the distance without further cost. That sure is a cool and green way to beat fuel costs.
Naysayers counter that EVs are expensive upfront. We agree. The cheapest models range in price from 30,000 to 50,000 AUD. Like all good things, they come with a higher price tag. But think of it as an investment that you need to make not only for you and the planet’s health but the future generations' as well.
3. EVs are quiet
Back in the early 1900s, electric cars were so popular because they were noiseless, easy to operate, and did not release smelly fumes. These same qualities endear new-generation EVs to their owners. A quiet cabin no doubt makes for a more comfortable ride, too.
4. More breakthroughs in developing cheaper EV batteries
The most expensive part of an EV is its battery, which is due to the costly raw materials and the cost of producing it. Fortunately, breakthroughs are underway for alternative materials and innovative processes to significantly cut the price of the battery (and the EV) in the next five years.
When the time comes, the price tags of these electric automobiles will be markedly lower than the current conventional models. It would be the day to say goodbye to diesel or petrol.
5. Easy and cheap maintenance
Due to fewer moving parts, an EV is pretty straightforward and economical to maintain. It also does away with highly-wearable parts that you find in conventional cars, including oils, filters, and belts, so you save up on these costs.
6. Safer in crash situations
Under the hood (where the engine would be in a conventional car) is a front crumple zone. In the event of a forward crash, this zone protects the driver and passengers. In comparison, the engine block in a conventional car could be pushed during a crash into the cabin, hurting the driver and passengers when this happens.
EVs generally have a centrally-distributed weight and a lower polar moment of inertia, which makes it more stable and better able to handle corners. Due to its construction, an EV is more capable of absorbing the sideways momentum of a crash. For this reason, it protects passengers better from side impact, too.
7. Entitles you to incentives
Governments in many parts of the world grant federal tax credits to EV owners for lowering their impact on the environment. Unfortunately, this is absent in Australia, although some states offer discounts on annual registration fees. Also, consumer groups, like Good Motive Australia and other organisations, have programs to help you avail of incentives and discounts of up to $2,000 for purchasing electric vehicles.
8. EVs are here to stay
Unlike what happened during the first wave of EVs, this generation is here to stay. Climate change, greenhouse effect, and the banes of fossil fuels are pressing issues that continue to plague the world, and we simply can't go on ignoring EVs. It's a solution and one that's becoming more viable with each passing day.
Are EVs the disruptive innovation that the auto world has been waiting for?
They could be. EVs will alter the existing landscape in the automotive industry and its supply chain. Many would argue, however, that it’s not an authentic disruption because it will not totally displace an established system or market. Besides, EVs have existed before.
What it will do is introduce some degree of change. It will expand the current auto parts industry to include technologies required in vehicle electrification.
Whether or not it is a disruptive innovation is beyond the scope of this article. How we see EVs right now is that they are a welcome change to various fronts, relevant not only to the automotive industry but also to the world at large.