Let’s Electrify Our World

 

 

Mention the word EV (electric vehicle) to most people, and they will have questions about their speed, performance, range, or issues with charging. This impression may be the one the traditional auto industry wants you to have, or true of some inferior examples some have seen, but is not necessarily the reality now.

Electric vehicles are on the rise, according to the IEA (International Energy Agency) with a one hundred-fold growth of electric cars between 2010 and 2015, reaching 1.26 million global sales in 2015.

Electric vehicles are not a recent invention. Electric cars have been around since the early 1900s. But even with this long a history, aside from enthusiast groups, most people seem to have little actual knowledge of electric vehicles. Part of the reason for the public’s lack of knowledge about what electric cars can do, is explained in the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” which talked about how GM, the company that created a great modern electric car, the EV1 in 1996, tried to remove it completely from the market.

The commercial interests of the car industry and oil industry have blocked the emergence of electric cars for more than two decades.

Today’s electric cars defy many of our preconceptions. Tesla’s Model S, one of the best-selling electric cars, has a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) and can accelerate from 0–100 km/h (60 mph) in 3.2 seconds. The performance model has a range of over 400 km on a single charge and can recharge 80% of the battery in as little as 20 minutes with their highway superchargers.

 

 

Although Tesla garners much of the media attention regarding electric cars, it is by no means certain that they will ultimately be the winners in the electric car market. Now that demand for electric cars is increasing, many traditional car manufacturers are producing their own models. General Motors is launching their new vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt, to compete directly with Tesla.

Both Toyota and Hyundai are also launching their own mid- priced models. Meanwhile, EVs are booming in China, aided by very generous government rebates of up to USD$13,800 and a slew of new vehicles are entering the market. At the Beijing Motor Show in April, ten Chinese car companies, most totally unknown outside of China, announced new EVs. Most will be sold in China and around the region and into Africa, however some, such as those made by BYD, are also slated to enter the U.S. market to compete directly with Tesla.

As with all new technologies, there is also a need for the public to understand, adapt, and see minds and perceptions change, which also takes time. For example, a lot of people have questions about range and waiting for your electric car to charge. According to the research firm Statistic Brain, 78% of Americans drive less then 64 km (40 miles) in their daily commute, so range is really not an issue. Charging one’s electric car at home at night, is easier and less time consuming then going to the gas station.

There is also the financial aspect, as most everywhere around the world, electricity costs are much lower than gas, so it is cheaper to run an electric car than a traditional gas engine car. Not to

mention the additional cost of a gas engine’s regular need for oil changes and servicing. EVs greatly reduce the amount of time needed to tend to a vehicle’s maintenance issues and the costs incurred in them, as well as cutting operational costs for fuel.

Access to charging points may be a chicken or egg game, even with many cities around the world expending substantial effort installing charging infrastructure. No doubt many more will be added as the EV adoption rate climbs. Nissan recently reported that there are over 40,000 places in Japan where electric car owners could charge, compared with 35,000 gas stations. Even though many of those counted are private charging spots, there are certainly more outlets around (yes, you can charge most electric cars and motorcycles at a regular plug with an adapter) than gas stations.

Speaking of gas stations, one of the biggest advantages of electric vehicles is in no longer having to rely on petroleum, and instead opening up the possibility to power the world’s vehicles with clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, thereby reducing CO2 emissions causing global warming. Just as importantly, air quality will also be improved via a reduction of the many harmful emissions from gas vehicles that currently have a dramatic impact on health, affecting asthma rates, lung cancer rates, cardiovascular disease, and that ultimately shorten the lives of millions.

EVs are not just cars. There have also been a lot of advancements and interesting things happening with electric scooters and electric bicycles. In this issue, you will find in-depth coverage on these two sectors as well as on electric cars, along with articles covering charging, environmental impact, cost, and the history of EVs, to present you a picture of what the EV world looks like today.

In preparation for this issue, we test drove many EVs, including Tesla’s Model S, Gogoro’s Smartscooter, and a few really cool electric bicycles, and we have to say, we can’t wait for the day when the rest of the world switches over to EVs, not only because our streets will be quieter, less polluted, or that we won’t be relying on oil, and we’ll see our vehicle running costs lowered. No. It will be because EVs, such as from Tesla or Gogoro, are not just vehicles powered by electricity; they are indeed better vehicles in every way. They drive better, have improved vehicle technology, and are generally just plain sexier than the gas vehicles that preceded them. They are really cars from the future, already here today.

 

Writer: Weeknight Editorial Team
David Pan
Weeknight magazine is published in two editions, the English and Chinese & English.