15 February, 2019

Why electric vehicles may not be the future of the automotive industry

The automotive industry has seen some monumental shifts in recent years, none more so than what the future of the engine should be. Should it be petrol, hydrogen, electric, diesel or a mixture? Could it even be something that hasn’t even been invented yet?


And when it comes to comparing petrol and diesel engine emissions with those produced by electric vehicles, it would seem like an absolute no brainer that we should all go electric, but hold on you green fingered electrically charged eco warriors (that’s everyone), are the emissions the whole story?


Well, sadly not. And here’s why.


Price to purchase

Many industry experts and commentators will tell you that the price of electric vehicles and internal combustion engines (petrol and diesel to you and I) are of comparable cost, and they continue to become even more comparable, which in some ways is right.


But if I gave you a choice, either car A where you’ll pay full price, be charged road tax every year and be charged extra to drive in urban areas or car B, where although it costs more, we’ll give you a grant to match car A, and you won’t pay road tax, you won’t be charged for driving in urban areas, then you are going to pick car B, it’s simple maths.


But unfortunately, the prices are simply not comparable, they’re a long way off in fact. Have a look at the price for these base model VW Golfs. The first is a standard petrol model and the second is an electric model.



The standard Golf is over £12,000 cheaper.


Service and Maintenance

Electric vehicles are without cheaper for the owner to maintain and run. Servicing costs are significantly reduced because there is less to do and less to inspect, and as there are less moving parts, they don’t wear out as quick, so they should last longer.


But whilst they maybe cheaper to run, when comparing cost per mile, what’s the cost of creating the electricity needed to run them?


In the UK, the vast majority of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels and nuclear (1), both of which are considered dirty fuels. So you may not be bringing pollution to towns and cities directly, but we’re still producing the pollution which is harming the planet.


Incentives will come to an end

Electric vehicles are the currently the popular kid in class, everyone wants to be them or at least be seen with them, and because of their ‘clean’ credentials, the government is offering incentive after incentive to help convince car owners to make the conversion.


But those incentives won’t last forever and they will come to an end, at which point peoples interest in them quickly fades in to the abyss.


Pollution from production

It is estimated that around 5.6 tonnes worth of carbon dioxide are produced every time we produced a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle.


For every electric vehicle that production pollution amounts to around 8.8 tonnes, over 3 tonnes more, or around 56% more pollution per vehicle.


The final nail in the coffin

Now we can all get around the production pollution, the cost of producing electricity and their sale prices, but here’s the final nail in the electric car coffin.


It’s convenience. At the moment with my diesel car, I can go to a petrol station, fill my tank, hand over my money and leave, all within 5 minutes and I’m good for another 400-500 miles. Plug your electric car in for five minutes and see how much charge you get?


As people, we are inherently lazy, the very existence of cars shows that, so the fact we can’t just drive on to a filling station forecourt and top up our electric cars in a matter of minutes is probably the biggest reason, why electric cars at this very moment won’t see end the life of traditional petrol / diesel engines.


I don’t doubt there will be other advances and battery technology will improve, and I’m excited by the prospect of them, but at the moment, electric vehicles will remain in the shadows.


 (1) - https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2017/dec/25/how-green-are-electric-cars