The Future of Electric (Vehicles) Is Bright

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BMW's i3 Electric Vehicle

BMW’s i3 Electric Vehicle

Norway, which is Western Europe’s largest exporter of oil and gas, runs largely on hydroelectricity at home so EVs don’t add much to the cost of power. Of course in many parts of the world, electricity is generated from sources far less green so there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Unsurprisingly, a 2014 study by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that electric vehicles powered by electricity generated from natural gas or wind, water, or solar power are best for improving air quality, while those powered by coal-generated electricity are the worst.

Coal-generated electricity is, of course, a major source of power in the United States. Approximately 44% of electricity generated is attributed to coal as of 2013. If the EV’s fuel comes from electricity from coal, an electric car, according to the study, will produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than its gasoline-powered counterpart, because of the pollution that is created in generating the electricity.

Meanwhile, the cost of lithium batteries, those used to power EVs has plummeted by as much as two-thirds in recent years and prices are expected to drop even more over the coming decade.

In addition to Volvo’s plans, both Tesla and Volkswagen say they plan to produce a million electric vehicles each per annum prior to 2025. This week Tesla showed off the first production Model 3. The car is expected to have reasonably sporty handling and a range of at least 215 miles (346 kilometers). In addition, the 238-mile (383-kilometer) range Chevrolet Bolt is exceeding many people’s expectations after only having been on the market for half a year.

Of course, if electric vehicles do take off, people will need a place to charge them. EVs are marketed as exemplary city cars but, in many urban areas, residents park on the street and don’t currently have easy access to a place to install a charger. Today and for the foreseeable future, it takes far longer to charge an EV, even using the fastest charging method available, versus filling a car’s gas tank. That puts the burden on cities or private companies to come up with cost-effective solutions to build the necessary infrastructure to support a large-scale transformation to EVs.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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