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TOPIC: Electric Vehicle v Gasoline-powered car - what’s your take on that?

Re: Electric Vehicle v Gasoline-powered car - what’s your take on that? #16

As an academic researcher in the field, it is my opinion that electric vehicles (EVs) represent the most promising strategy (at least in terms of technological progress) towards tackling transport’s disproportionately large contribution to the global climate change and local air quality challenges.

Local air quality improvements brought be EVs need hardly be described here; more interesting, however, is the assertion that even with the current European power generation mix, (i.e. the amount coming from coal, gas, oil, nuclear, and renewables), and assuming a 150,000km lifespan, fully electric private road vehicles offer a 10 to 24% decrease in global warming potential over conventional diesel or petrol vehicles over their entire lifespan (including material extraction, vehicle production and energy generation costs; Hawkins et al., Journal of Industrial Ecology, 17.1 (2013): 53-64). This benefit over combustion driven vehicles can only increase with advances in the de-carbonisation of the electricity grid.

As many of the commenters on this forum have noted, range anxiety is, of course, a significant issue that cannot be ignored. Research suggests, however, that it is the perception of range anxiety that presents a more significant barrier to EV than does the actual range limitations themselves. Range anxiety has been shown to decrease with experience of electric vehicles (e.g. Cocron et al., IET Intell. Transp. Syst., 5.2 (2011), 127–133; Pearre, et al.,Transp. Res. C Emerg. Technol., 19.6 (2011), 1171–1184), and given a 100 mile range the electric vehicle can meet the needs of the driver on 342 out of 365 days of the year (i.e. in a year-long survey of 484 drivers, trips in excess of 100 miles were only recorded, on average, on 23 days out of the year; Pearre et al. Transp. Res. C Emerg. Technol., 19.6 (2011), 1171–1184).

Given that many households own, or have access to at least two vehicles, the potential for electric vehicles to cover ‘normal’ daily needs (e.g. the commute to work, a trip to the supermarket), with a second, petrol or diesel car providing the drive with the option for travelling further distances, seems very promising to me. There are certainly issues concerning upfront cost, the lifespan of the batteries, the question of what to do with old batteries once they are not fit for EV service, the fast-charge infrastructure, the use of rare earth metals and toxic materials, and the large-scale recycling of these relatively new types of vehicles (at least in a commercial sense), however these issues are not, in my opinion, insurmountable, and the potential benefits of EVs are worth the efforts being put in by researchers the world over.

As a few of the commenters here have mentioned, EVs are likely to present part of the solution; a complex, multi-faceted problem, such as is transport’s effect on the environment we inhabit, will require a complex, multi-faceted solution. I am yet to be fully convinced of hydrogen vehicles (issues regarding hydrogen infrastructure, in-vehicle containment vessel reliability and quality, the source of hydrogen, and the energy input needed to compress, liquefy or cryogenically store it seem to me to be significant indeed), however being in the EV field rather than the hydrogen vehicle domain, I do have my biases.

The future? I see hybrids and range-extended EVs as stepping-stones on the way to a fully electrified road transport system (whether energy storage comes in the form of hydrogen tanks or electrical batteries, I see the electric motor as the future for road transport), though how long that will take to materialize is a guess that I am very reluctant to make.

Re: Electric Vehicle v Gasoline-powered car - what’s your take on that? #17

Richard
Whilst I am entirely sympathetic to your arguments, EVs cannot form a more sustainable solution to global climate change as long as we continue to use carbon based generation of electricity. In any case, in the absence of draconian legislation/taxes, there won't be any mass uptake of such vehicles unless and until their purchase price comes down to a level that the ordinary citizen can afford.

On one side issue, it is perhaps sobering to note that the raising of animals, especially ruminants, for the purpose of human consumption now is generating more greenhouse gases than the whole of the transport sector (not just cars). That impact can only expand with increased populations and greater affluence.

Potentially, a greater contribution could be made to the fight against global climate change by seeking to pursuade lots of people to eat less meat.
Last Edit: by Kauser Aslam.

Re: Electric Vehicle v Gasoline-powered car - what’s your take on that? #18

I agree wholeheartedly with both of your points; without decarbonisation of the grid, EVs will do little to tackle climate change. There are, however, many efforts being made to do this (progress is painfully slow, but it is being made nonetheless).

Maybe I am being overly optimistic, but I see the electricity generation problem as more easily remedied (relatively speaking; its is of course not easy) than the improvements in combustion engine emission levels required to achieve target CO2 (and equivalent) reduction rates. As long as petrol products are used to drive transport (pun intended) we will always have point-of-use emission problems. Add to this the emissions and energy use issues related to the extraction, refinement and distribution of the fuel, a transport system based on fossil fuels cannot provide a sustainable way forward ('renewable' energies absolutely have their problems, but I see them as potentially solvable problems; burning fossil fuels will always release greenhouse gases).

You are quite right with regards to making EVs available to the ordinary citizen; maybe we do need draconian legislation/taxes. Though I highly doubt a politician/party that suggests these would be voted in. Personally, I see EVs as a long-term solution, perhaps too long term. But then doing something late is better than not doing it at all (usually). And of course it alone will not solve our problems. For this we need huge personal and societal lifestyle change; I worry that only some form of catastrophic event will provide sufficient stimulus for this (though I hope I am wrong).

As for the vegetarian argument, this is something which I have spent some time looking into. Not through my work, but through personal interest. I think encouraging the vegetarian diet globally would have a hugely beneficial effect on our environment, and in many different ways. This report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations provides some compelling arguments (exec summary only): www.europarl.europa.eu/climatechange/doc...cutive%20summary.pdf

Re: Electric Vehicle v Gasoline-powered car - what’s your take on that? #19

We carried out a Policy Review on Low Carbon Vehicles in Delivery of Public Services in 2012. This included a high level business case evaluation on electric cars and electric light commercial vehicles which we commissioned from CENEX. Sunderland is a relatively compact unitary authority, and based on a representative pattern of vehicles operating in the city, the work indicated an immediate positive business case for electric cars to replace conventional, but a marginally negative business case in respect of light commercial vehicles. In order to explore this further, with the aim of identifying specific operational circumstances where electric and other ultra low carbon vehicles are the better option, we have entered into a research partnership with the centre for Automotive and Advanced Manufacturing Practice at Sunderland University which is remotely tracking and analysing the working patterns of a number of our existing electric and conventional vehicles. The project concludes next year and will be the key in influencing how we will meet our target of up to a third of our vehicle fleet being ultra low carbon by 2020.

Re: Electric Vehicle v Gasoline-powered car - what’s your take on that? #20

Electric vehicles need to be cheaper than current and could be funded or reduced by increasing the price of petrol and diesel vehicles to fund.
The grants or initiatives that the government allow are just not enough to convince me to switch over.
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