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Are Electric Vehicles Really the way of the Future?

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Whether you like it or not, electric vehicles are the way of the future. We aren’t going to have a choice in that matter. The current US Administration is heavily pushing a green energy directive, and within the next 10-15 years it might even be illegal to sell a “full gas” vehicle. In this article we are going to dive a little deeper into what that means for our society and some of the pros and cons of a world that runs on only EV’s.

Since 2010 more than 2.5 million EV’s have been sold. That includes both hybrids and full electric cars. Over 100,000 of them sold just in 2022, and we aren’t even half way through the year yet. We currently only have 46,000 EV charging stations throughout the US. Over 13,000 of them reside in California alone. Some of the states with the lowest number of charging stations are Alaska, Montana and North Dakota, all coming in at right around 50 charging stations each.

So, let’s do some simple math. The Tesla 3 is probably the most popular EV on the road so we’ll do this based off this popular vehicle. I travel 60 miles to work one way, so roughly 120 miles per day. At an average speed of 80 mph. It is said that you can expect to get right around 200-220 miles out of a fully charged Model 3 at that speed. Now these aren’t exact numbers because let’s be honest, nothing in life is exact. These numbers are solely based off model 3 drivers reporting of actual experiences with their vehicles. So in order to make my commute from home to work, and back again I would absolutely need to charge every single day. That seems simple enough, just plug it in when you get home, right? Well, what happens if you’ve got an apartment or something with on street parking or a remote parking lot like many of us do, and aren’t able to charge it every night? Well in that situation, on top of your hour long commute, the daily traffic, unexpected weather delays… you know, the good stuff… you’ll also have to find a Tesla Super charge station to charge at for a minimum of 20 minutes for roughly 200 miles worth of charge. If you don’t pass a super charge station on the way, and you need to choose a less superior way of charging, you might need to be plugged in for hours or even days to achieve the same level of charging. Yup, that’s right, you heard me correctly. On a standard 110 outlet it would actually take you DAYS to get a full charge! This simple reality in it self makes it so that for a lot of us that live outside a major metropolitan area, could never make an EV our primary source of transportation.

Now, let’s look at expenses. You will be saving a lot of money! No fuel costs, no oil changes, minimal wearable parts. This all means that your normal every day expenses for your car will be far cheaper then what you’re used to, practically nonexistent. But you better set that money aside for a rainy day! When it comes to replacing the batteries on that same Model 3 you can be expecting a bill well over $10,000 dollars, especially after factoring in labor costs. After all this isn’t a battery you and your buddy can swap out on a Saturday night with a couple beers. Average maintenance costs for an EV are quoted at anyplace ranging from $500-$1000 dollars per year! That’s significantly less than any regular gas or diesel vehicle. I’m skeptical though. A friend of mine, a seasoned mechanic that’s been working on diesel engines and heavy equipment for many years, brought his Model X into the dealership to get checked out for a strange noise while driving. Like I said you likely can’t even work on these vehicles yourself. A wheel bearing and a slew of suspension parts later, and his bill was North of $12,000! The moral of this story is while you might think you’re saving all sorts of money up front, in the long run you’re going to be closer to breaking even vs, a gas car than anything.

Well, how about the environment? These things are better for the environment, aren’t they? Well let’s take a look at that. A Tesla Model 3 uses an 80 kwh lithium ion battery. Producing that battery can produce between 3000 to 15,000 KG of CO2 emissions. In addition you’re going to need to add another 45 or so KG per day for charging purposes. (Thank you U/zagdrob on reddit for doing that math for us). So, that works out to be about another 165,000 kg over a ten year period. A Honda Civic produces 1.89grams per kilometer. So that’s roughly around 3 grams of CO2 emissions per mile. So if you do an average amount of 10,000 miles a year over ten years, you’re looking at about 300,000 KG of CO2 emissions over all. I know that’s a lot of numbers, and my math may not even be perfect but I think that makes it pretty clear that even though these electric vehicles are undoubtedly better for the environment, the margins are pretty narrow. If this is our master plan to save the planet then I think we are going to be dropping the ball just a little short. I get it, I get it, something is better then nothing but my point is that it’s not exactly what they are trying to sell us.

My last spot for concern when it comes to electric vehicles are the batteries. Where do they come from, and where do they go? Well, these battery packs are made up of many smaller lithium ion battery cells as well as cooling systems and electrical wiring. These battery packs degrade just a little bit every single time they are charged, and eventually need to be replaced. When the old batteries are retired they need to be safely recycled. The problem is that this doesn’t always happen… and when one of these battery packs make it into a landfill, it can cause both safety and environmental issues. These battery’s can explode and even burn for days, one of our local fire departments had to respond to a junk yard several separate times to re-extinguish the same Tesla battery pack that was damaged in an accident the week before. Another reason these batteries need to be recycled is because we already don’t have enough of the resources needed to make them. It is speculated that if we keep going at the current rate that we could run out of lithium by 2025. That’s not very far away…

Overall I think the idea of the electric vehicle is great. Performance is unmatched. I think there are a lot of pro’s, and maybe I’ll cover some of them in another article, but as for now I think the con’s greatly out weigh the benefits of EV’s. For now any electrical vehicle is a hard no for me. As for you, you do your research but make sure you do it all. It may not be what you think.

What’s your thoughts on electric vehicles? Do you drive one? Is it everything you thought it would be? Let me know in the comments!

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