I look at these two worlds on either side of the fence and I wonder… what is stopping people making that climb to cross over?
Well, it is true that as of today the cost of making that crossover is quite high. The most forward thinking will see that over a number of years the EV is cheaper but the cost to make the jump, the initial purchase price, is still high. Not everyone can afford to buy in. Any new technology is always expensive when it first arrives but it hardly ever stays that way. Already there are EVs on the horizon that are half the price of those available today and I am sure that it won’t be long before EVs are of similar prices to ICE cars today.
Range is also a big issue for many. It is true to say that the batteries in the current batch of EVs is too small to allow for all journeys we want to make. But this area has big changes coming. Battery technology is one of the fastest moving areas right now. It is very likely that in a year or two batteries will be double the capacity and half the price. Already the next wave of family EVs will have a range nearly double that of today. It won’t be long before the range is up to that f current ICEs.
So where can I charge my EV? There aren’t many charging points are there? This is true. Charging infrastructure is in its infancy. But isn’t it also true that in the early days of the petrol car that was also true then… there were no petrol stations. It takes time to build an infrastructure. Give it a bit of time and you will have places to charge everywhere just as petrol stations are everywhere today. The biggest benefit here though is that you have a charging station at home and that is where most of your charging will be done anyway.
The combination of short range and lack of charging infrastructure makes it difficult to use most EVs for longer trips. It needs an increase in range (battery capacity) and a developed charging infrastructure before EVs are viable for routing long trips in the same way as ICEs.
So, should we all be driving EVs?
Eventually the answer is a definite yes but right now that just isn’t sensible for most. For most of us an EV would satisfy the vast majority of the car trips we do (80%+ under 10 miles) and for most of us an EV would satisfy our daily requirements (80%+ do less than 30 miles a day) but what about the other 20%? If you only have one car then right now it cannot be an EV without you needing to make special arrangements for that 20%. It is possible though… hire car, public transport etc. Realistically speaking, that won’t be acceptable to most people.
I see plug in hybrids as the answer to these issues. Plug in hybrids are cars that can be an electric vehicle for the shorter journeys but also have a petrol engine to allow for those longer trips. They can be used in EV mode without using petrol at all though and that is the important difference between a plug in hybrid such as the Chevrolet Volt/Vauxhall Ampera and existing hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and the Lexus CT200h.
It is true that hybrids are not as efficient when being used as an electric car as a 100% electric car such as the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-Miev. But it is a stepping stone, a movement in the right direction. It can suit everyone. It can be used solely as an EV for those shorter trips. It can be used with the petrol engine running for those longer trips. Overall though the mileage figures are still very good even when compared to the very best ICE out today so although a compromise it is still ecologically sound. This is the car that will transform our way of thinking. This is the car that will turn our heads around and start us all looking forward again and let us see the benefits of the EV side of the fence. It will allow more and more people to make that leap to full EV when they realise that it can work for them.
It is certain that petrol and diesel cars will be around for decades to come but more and more people will turn around and start to want to climb the fence and get to the EV side. The plug in hybrid might be their ladder.