Electric cars are going to rule the road

Fossil fuels are a limited resource that will eventually run out. That’s a fact, but steps are being taken 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 in 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, using 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 categorized as an electric vehicle.

The world’s first truly 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, coupled with the mass production of internal combustion engine vehicles to make them less expensive, led to the decline of electric vehicles. During the fuel crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, interest in electric cars resurfaced, but it was short-lived. Electric cars of the 1970s and 1980s were expensive, the batteries were huge and took time to charge, and even when fully charged, the distance they could travel was limited. With so much going against them, these early electric cars never made it into mass production. However, since 2008, electric vehicle manufacturing has become a reality with advances in battery technology and smaller, lighter, more efficient electric motors. With rising 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 from the tailpipe. Reducing greenhouse gases reduces the rate at which the ozone layer is depleted, slowing global warming. Lower overall consumption of fossil fuels also reduces dependence on foreign oil, which in turn reduces concerns about oil prices and supply disruption.

Electric cars still face obstacles. The predominant obstacles are the higher cost of purchase, the lack of recharging infrastructure and the fear of drivers that the batteries will die before reaching their destination. However, these shortcomings are rapidly being addressed. Many service stations, and a large number of cities, are installing charging points. More recharging facilities will eliminate “range anxiety,” the worry that batteries will run out before reaching a destination. All 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 vehicles that run on fossil fuels is already closing.

The leader in electric car sales in 2012 was Japan with a global market share of 28%. It is followed by the United States with 26% of the market, followed by China with 16%, then 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 electric
  3. Chery JAC J3 EV
  4. tazzari zero
  5. nissan leaf
  6. nissan smart
  7. Wheego whip life
  8. my electric
  9. Volvo C30 Electric
  10. BYD e6
  11. Bollore Blue Car
  12. Renault Kangoo UK
  13. Renault Fluence UK
  14. renault zoe
  15. ford focus electric
  16. BMW Active E
  17. tesla model s
  18. Honda Fit EV
  19. RAV4 electric
  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 there are many more electric cars in the planning stages, and every car manufacturer is putting a lot of research and development into electric vehicles. As electric vehicle production increases, prices will become more comparable with combustion engines and hybrid vehicles.

As more electric vehicles take to the streets, the 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 substitute for oil. Without crude oil, the products that define our current lifestyle and standard of living will change dramatically.

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