electric vehicle

Electric Vehicles and Their Importance in the 21st Century

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash
Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

It’s fair to say climate change is the defining problem of the 21st century (so far, at least). CO2, while not the most dangerous greenhouse gas, is the one we produce in quantity—and with transportation responsible for 28% of CO2 emissions in the US, it’s also one we can significantly reduce by transitioning to electric cars.

The Benefits of Electric Cars

Not only can electric cars reduce your emissions, but they can also save you money, as they’re more efficient and electricity costs are consistently lower than petrol or diesel costs. EVs are usually ‘smarter’, too, with better digital connectivity than conventional cars. They are also quite responsive and have very good torque. 

Climate change gases aren’t the only concern, though. Pollution from combustion energies is an issue for health too. EVs can do a lot to reduce air pollution—and noise pollution, as models vary between quiet and virtually silent.

EV Issues: The Problems and Solutions

Price and Range Anxiety

There was a time when the popularity of EVs outstripped the deployment of charging stations, causing ‘range anxiety’. Owners were concerned about running out of charge on the road; the location and number of charging stations en route to a destination; and whether all the chargers would be in use when they arrived at a charging station! The first chargers were also slow, adding a substantial amount of time to journeys.


The Solutions

Smart technology, more efficient batteries, a rapid increase in charging points, as well as the development and deployment of fast chargers, have helped mitigate these fears—and many EV drivers now opt to have a charging point at home, too, allowing them to charge their car overnight.

Today, much of western Europe is well-equipped with chargers. Based on the number of chargers per country, The Netherlands takes the lead, with Norway, France, Germany and the UK also well-supplied with chargers. It’s relatively easy to find charging points in Sweden, Austria, Italy, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland too.

However, there’s not an international standard for electric car chargers, and even within one country, there can be a range of chargers in use (and different connectors required to use them). Level 2 chargers commonly found at commercial charging stations take 2-4 hours to fully charge your battery, while Level 3 fast chargers using DC (direct current) take less than an hour. However, they’re not suitable for use with all EV batteries.

Hefty Price Tag?

EVs were initially considered unobtainable to the general public due to their high price. However, the past few years have seen those prices decrease significantly. Additionally, many European governments, for example, subsidize and incentivize buying electric cars.

Not All EVs are Created Equal

Which type of EV should you buy? That may depend on what incentives are available for EV purchase in your country, if any. Sometimes, these incentives are restricted to certain types or models, so it’s worth checking first. Here is a little information on the various types of EVs:

BEVs (battery electric vehicles)

Fully electric cars with an electric motor, which store chemical energy in rechargeable batteries.

FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles)

These fuel cells in FCEVs generate electric power from oxygen and compressed hydrogen gas to power the electric motor.

HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles)

Hybrids have a traditional internal combustion engine and an electric powertrain. The kinetic energy the car generates is converted into electricity and stored in a battery to power the electric motor.

Other Electric Vehicles

PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) are rechargeable hybrids and EREVs (extended-range electric vehicles) are battery vehicles with a fuel-based supplementary power unit that powers an electric generator, recharging the car’s battery.

The Future is Electric

With many countries now setting time limits on how much longer new petrol and diesel cars will be available, it won’t be long before we’re all having to decide which type of EV to buy—but whatever choice we make, we will be doing our bit to save the planet (and our money).

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