Electric cars have been a recent addition to the automotive market that is only just going mainstream, with the likes of the second generation Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius and the range of cars from Tesla: most notably the Model 3. There is a lot of hype surrounding electric cars that they are the future of the automotive industry. To some extent, this is the case. However, it should be noted what the drawbacks of electric cars are too. With this, as an Automotive Engineer with experience in such a sector, here are the main pros and cons to electric cars, concluding whether they are the future or not.
Electric Vehicle Pros
The biggest pro associated with electric cars is that they do not emit any emissions, unlike convention internal combustion engines. There is a serious crackdown happening to cities, considering that unburnt hydrocarbons, NOx and CO are contributing to a small percentage of deaths due to respiratory problems. With electric vehicles, the atmosphere, particularly in crowded cities, will vastly improve, improving the overall health of, just about, everything that breathes in air.
Better Driving Experience
Electric cars tend to have a lot of tech on-board, from self-driving capabilities to the ability to pre-heat the car before you even get in it. For this reason, the general driving experience, when in an electric car, is very pleasant. There are also no clutches or transmissions, like in petrol and diesel cars, resulting in smooth acceleration and deceleration at all times.
Electric Vehicle Cons
Lithium Batteries in Crashes
When a petrol or diesel vehicle crashes, it is not common for it to burst into flames and stay ignited. However, this could be the case with electric vehicles. Considering the shear amount of lithium batteries that are crammed into electric cars of today, if they are damaged in anyway when in a crash, they are prone for huge current surges resulting in fires.
The problem further arises that lithium batteries are notoriously difficult to put out once on fire, where the fire bridgeable usually leave the batteries to naturally die out instead. For safety of people in crashes, this is a slight problem.
Petrol Engines are Getting Very Efficient
There is the argument that electric cars are cheaper to run than petrol vehicles. This is the case at the moment. However, the cost to purchase an electric vehicle and set up a charging dock for your home means it will take a while for the ‘break even’ point to actually occur.
What more, petrol engines are getting seriously efficient. Up to now, it is common to see petrol engines at around 30-35% efficiency. New technology is already being developed (and should enter the public sector within the next ten years) that will result in the engine being 60-65% efficient. When this is the case, the fuel cost will be comparable with electric cars, with much less emissions (depending where the electricity for electric vehicles is coming from).
Ultimately, the future is with electric vehicles. Just, not yet.
Is it great there is a surge in electric vehicles as of 2018. However, we still have a long time before electric vehicles will be cheaper and better than internal combustion engines. With this, it is safe to say that hybrids will become the new norm in the next ten years.