ARE ELECTRIC VEHICLES LOSING THEIR SHEEN?
Well, let’s look at some real world figures to dig a little deeper. And let’s start with Europe, since they’ve been the earliest adopters of electric cars thus far. Last year, just over 10,000 EVs were sold in Europe – that’s under .1% of the total number of cars sold in all of Europe in 2011. And that’s despite a number of government incentives by individual States across the region to propagate the sale and use of EVs. And, that’s to say nothing of the fact that Europe has the most advanced electric vehicle infrastructure (in terms of charging stations) in the entire world.
Take a city like London for instance. Presently, it has 300 EV charging stations across the city, and 1300 more are planned in the near future. The problem, though, is that even those are not nearly enough. You see, EVs still need to be plugged in for a number of hours each day to be recharged – and that’s only really possible through the night. But, in a metropolis like London – where most people live in apartments and have their cars parked on the street – that’s simply not feasible.
And there are more issues as well. A recent study revealed that electric cars in China actually pollute more than cars that run on petrol or diesel – for the simple reason that virtually all the electricity produced in China is generated by burning coal, which is highly polluting. But, according to American automotive commentator, John McElroy, China will continue to push EVs simply because the country has 100 years of coal reserves – whereas it has to import oil. And energy independence in today’s world is worth a pretty premium. Moreover, China’s been out to make a mark in the automotive world for years, but hasn’t been successful at much thus far – other than patent infringement that is. So, the administration feels it would be much more possible to reach a position of strength by pioneering electric vehicle technology, rather than trying to take on the carmakers of the world on their terms.
In India, electric cars are not even a spec on the radar – and electric two wheelers aren’t doing much better either. And it’s likely to stay that way until the government starts providing some serious incentives. But, even governments are waking up to the reality that EVs just aren’t making the kind of impact that everyone had hoped for. In fact, frustrated at the inability to reduce carbon emissions, a group of countries (the US included) have got together in an effort to cut other greenhouse gasses – namely methane, soot, and hydrofluorocarbons. And, while it’s a shame that reducing carbon emissions is harder than anyone would like, it’s also indicative of a more pragmatic approach that may well yield results. After all, if anything’s been proven thus far, it’s that there is no silver bullet – all the stakeholders (which essentially means everyone who’d like to see us living in a sustainable world) will have to work that much harder in an attempt to find real-world, everyday solutions to the many problems facing our planet. After all, having blinkers on is what’s gotten us into our present situation, isn’t it?