Environment

Electric Vehicles Will Replace Gas Guzzlers – If We Do Our Part

electric vehicles

Electric Vehicles Have the Potential to Replace Gasoline and Diesel – But Success is Not Guaranteed.

Excitement – and market share – for electric vehicles is growing by the day. Because of the truly amazing models hitting the streets and the realization that bold action is needed to save our planet, electric vehicles are poised to end the market dominance of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles.

Despite the fanfare around electric vehicles a simple fact remains: electric vehicles accounted for about five percent of all vehicle sales around the world in 2020 and are likely to reach just seven percent of vehicle sales in 2021.

Without a doubt, the market share of electric cars will grow year after year for the foreseeable future. But we have a lot of work to do if we want to ensure that electricity and batteries fully replace gas and diesel as the power for our cars and trucks.

Challenges to an Electric Vehicle Future

There are three big impediments to electric vehicles achieving a dominant market share:

  1. Poor infrastructure. Despite the enormous progress being made in building a network of charging stations, the infrastructure for electric cars is vastly inferior to that of gasoline and diesel-powered cars. You probably know exactly where the closest gas station is to your home but how many of us know where the closest municipal charging station is?
  2. The long life of vehicles. Cars and SUVs made today stay on the road for, on average, 10-20 years before they are scrapped. Roughly 80 million of them were sold in 2020 – which means a lot of vehicles emitting a lot of harmful pollutants will be driving around for a long time.
  3. Really complicated global supply chains. We are in the midst of a global race to secure supplies of materials essential to the production of electric vehicles – such as the lithium used in batteries. Whereas fossil fuels remain plentiful and fairly cheap, the ingredients used to make and operate electric vehicles are getting more difficult to access and more expensive.

Achieving an Electric Vehicle Future – and What You Can do to Help

Let’s be honest. The big car companies that are making bold commitments about virtually all of their vehicles being electric in the next decade are not doing so out of the goodness of their heart. Each of them is making a dramatic shift to their business model because they see three trends.

  • The success of companies like Tesla.
  • Growing consumer demand
  • Changes in government policy as accelerating the market opportunity for electric vehicles at the expense of gasoline and diesel ones.

If the car companies perceive lessening consumer demand or government policy shifting away from electric vehicles it is a certainty they will go back to making more gasoline and diesel powered cars and trucks.

The Success of Electric Vehicles is Up to Us

If we really want to rid ourselves of cars and trucks that are powered by dirty internal combustion engines, all of us need to step up – even if we never buy an electric vehicle.

Consider the following:

  1. Support good public policy. As I have previously written here, a lot of really effective public policy occurs at the local level. If local leaders are proposing ideas like expanding the network of charging stations or offering incentives to encourage people to install chargers at their homes, lend your voice.
  2. Spread the word. When making purchasing decisions – especially big ones like a new car – people are more likely to trust the opinions of friends and family as they are slick advertising campaigns. If you see an innovative idea or are really excited by a new electric vehicle model, share it with your network. That will help build excitement and interest.
  3. Use ride shares. Lyft, Uber, ZipCar will be using more and more electric vehicles in the coming year. While those platforms are not perfect, their size and global reach will play an important role in accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles.

If all else fails…love your vehicle. Arguably the best thing you can do for the environment is to love your vehicle – no matter how it is powered. Keeping it well maintained and healthy means it will pollute less compared to a vehicle which does not run very well. Also know that roughly 30 percent of a vehicle’s emissions are created during the manufacturing process. Even the most advanced electric vehicles cause emissions during production. Thus, the longer a vehicle lasts the more those emissions are avoided.

Electric Vehicles: The Game Changer We Desperately Need

The most important reason why we need to accelerate the growth of electric cars goes far beyond getting more of them on the road.

More than any other sustainable product, electric vehicles are the ones that will end – once and for all – the false perception that sustainability is a tradeoff with cost and quality.

Once people realize that electric vehicles outperform and look better than traditional ones, they will want to buy more sustainable products of every kind.

Even if you never own an electric vehicle, it is critical we support them growing in market share. Society will become more sustainable if electric vehicles succeed – something all of us benefit from.

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