For years the development of electric vehicles has always been hindered by the high production costs and inefficiency of reusable batteries. However, technology is moving on at an immense rate and new research suggests the increasing accessibility of EVs (electric vehicles) will soon permit a colossal undertaking of modernisation of the current road network/ infrastructure.
It is predicted that by the end of 2016 there will be a record breaking 2 million EVs sold around the globe. That may seem insignificant compared to the total number of combustion vehicles (72.5 million cars/ light commercial vehicles sold alone in 2016) but that number is set to rise dramatically as the industry begins to push and invest in the purely electric car segment. A study by Nissan UK has indicated that as early as 2020 we may find EV charging points overtaking traditional petrol stations. The report suggests that Britain’s current number of petrol stations of 8,742 could drop to less than 7,000 by early 2020, which is believable when you consider there were 37,539 gas stations in 1970. Nissan also revealed that the current number of UK electric car charge points stands at 4,100, consisting mainly of car park charging sockets. But this figure is set to rise dramatically to 7,870 by 2020. This will put EV charge points and petrol stations at a very similar level. So theoretically, could we see a burst of electric car ownership before the turn of the decade?
If the number of electric car models is anything to go by, then yes. The slow but consistent rise of charging points has prompted many manufactures to include an all electric model within their range. Renault for example has released its newest EV, the Renault ZOE, that has a class leading range of 250 miles. That is still far less than a 400 mile plus combustion fuelled car but it certainly indicates how battery efficiently is improving. This is demonstrated no better than cars like the Tesla Model S P100d. Tesla claims the car can achieve a range of 380 miles, which for the majority of people is all the range they will ever need. Based on the continuing improvement in range, it is plausible to believe that electric cars will soon have the technology required to be a genuinely useable mode of transport.
However the largest hurdle for mass EV ownership is the accessibility and affordability of brand new electric vehicles. Only five years ago a Nissan leaf (the first mass produced EV by a mainstream manufacture) would cost a somewhat overwhelming £30,600, and a Mitsubishi I would also set you back £28,500. However thanks to improved battery manufacturing techniques (Tesla’s Gigafactory for example) we are seeing prices slowly become affordable. This is well proven buy Renaults’ Zoe and Twizy models which cost £17,800 and £7,000 respectfully (although the Twizy requires a £200 monthly battery rental charge).
One aspect where electric cars may have the upper hand over there petrol powered counterparts is in reliability and serving costs. When you consider the amount of moving parts and components used in an internal combustion engine, the electric motors key strength of only using one part becomes plainly beneficial. The idea of a car that requires no fluids, oils or fossil fuels will naturally be the way forward for all manufactures. Think of it as an opportunity to simplify and civilise the whole driving experience to a peaceful hum with no clunky drive train gearing or engine noise; it is an altogether more refined and naturally efficient way to propel a vehicle.
It is clear that electric car technology will one day be a viable alternative to petrol and diesel cars, whether the change will materialise through mounting pressure on the auto industry to produce more ‘green’ labelled cars or a genuine push for electric power can only be guessed at. However only when an average sized Ford Focus or VW Golf becomes standard with an electric power plant will the combustion engine start to die out.