If you have driven anywhere near a city of size lately, you have likely seen a Tesla. It wasn’t long ago that the hybrid car was the aspiration for eco-conscious drivers looking to save on the cost of fueling their car while doing their small part to save the planet. Now, however, the automotive industry stands on the precipice of a new revolution. That revolution is an all-electric one, and automakers are committing to re-imagine their fleets to do their part and win the hearts of consumers.
Depending on where you live, it is likely that you are within a few short miles of a gas station. The infrastructure to support a fossil fuel-led automobile industry has been growing since the first purpose-built gas station was opened in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1905. Now every major automaker is working to design and add an electric vehicle to their lineup as countries reward EV ownership. Currently, 1% of the 1 billion vehicles on the road are electric. The International Energy Agency hopes to increase that percentage to 30% by 2030, just 9 short years away.
EV charging stations are like gas stations for the electric car and are a key piece of infrastructure needed to enable the growth of EV vehicle use. There are several companies that are working to develop and install charging stations throughout the world. One company that is making headway in that regard is Tesla. Tesla charging stations are popping up in cities across the US.
Companies are working to design and install the charging stations we need on the road and in our homes while energy companies are working to develop ecologically minded, reliable sources of energy to meet the impending demand. It is estimated that the demand on the US energy grid alone will increase by 90% by the year 2050.
Besides feeling good about the money you are saving on gas while limiting your own carbon footprint, there are several benefits to owning an electric vehicle. First, there are tax credits available for owners of electric cars. As the cost of electric cars comes down, the fact that some states offer up to $7500 in tax credits for owning an electric car makes this shift to a more environmentally friendly vehicle appealing and affordable.
Second, they require less frequent maintenance. Electric vehicles do not need oil changes and are more forgiving with wear and tear on your breaks, which can save money in maintenance fees over the life of the vehicle. Lastly, electricity is cheaper than gas and renewable. Electric cars are cheaper to operate than their gas-powered counterparts by approximately one-third. And because the electricity to power them can come from renewable sources like solar and wind, they are far better for the environment than one that requires non-renewable fossil fuel energy.
Electric cars are great for the environment, but they do come with their own unique set of challenges. First, charging an electric vehicle takes time. Up to 20 hours depending on the model and charging method. This is a tremendous disadvantage compared to its gas-powered counterpart, which can be topped off with gas in minutes.
Second, is the practicality of electric vehicles for long trips. With a limited range of 250 miles on a full charge on average depending on the model and even more limited charging infrastructure, electric vehicles may not be the best choice for a long road trip. Lastly, the number of options is limited. Gas-powered cars have been in production for over 100 years and come in all shapes and sizes from several manufacturers. The current vision of the electric vehicle has been in production since the 90s, so the number of makes and models is still limited.
There is little doubt that the future of driving is electric. Whether you make the switch now or later will depend on your current driving needs. Taking the time to review the pros and cons of electric vehicle ownership will help to ensure you are making a choice that is as good for you as it is for the environment.