The rise of electric vehicles is stronger than ever. New car companies and established ones alike are working on efficient and emission-free means of personal transport. Elon Musk’s Tesla Tesla, Inc. sold at least 73,000 electric cars in January and February 2021.
That was 50,000 more units than the previous year. Volkswagen is intent on making electric vehicles more affordable than gasoline-powered alternatives. General Motors plans to phase out non-electric vehicles by 2035.
You may wonder how this industry has come along. Or how will the rise of electric vehicles affect the scan tool market? Read more for a brief relook into the industry and a touch on the factors favouring this popular technology.
The rise of electric vehicles in recent years
The invention of the electric vehicle is widely credited to the Hungarian great Ányos Jedlik. In 1828, he invented the electromagnetic device that became the basis of the electric car. Many modifications have occurred over the decades since then. For instance, Thomas Parker developed the pioneer electric production car in 1884.
When Henry Ford burst into the scene with his affordable Ford Model T, a major blow fell on the electric car technology. It is not until recent years, when oil prices started to increase that the electric vehicle reappeared. That was in the 60s and 70s. Governments were still livid about this technology, given that oil had already established its roots.
M.Stanley Whittingham designed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in 1973 and provided a major boost to the rise of electric vehicles. Oil prices rose again, and the technology seemed to have gone to waste again.
“The British government is planning to have every new car meet “ultra-low emission” requirements by 2040.”
Auto experts believe that the arrival of the hybrid Toyota Prius in 1997 was the spark for the latest rise of electric vehicles. Cars like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla rightfully have a cult following, but it is worth remembering that the technology is close to 200 years old!
We may never witness the see-saw with oil again, but oil will still be around for a few more decades. Daniel Yergin from IHS Markit observes that 67% of cars on the roads in 2050 will still be combustion engine-powered. This is mainly since car fleets take time before they turn over.
The British government is planning to have every new car meet “ultra-low emission” requirements by 2040. Infrastructure for this technology is also expanding. This technology appears to be truly back, and it is here to stay.
Why are electric vehicles growing?
The sticker price on an electric vehicle can be intimidating. These cars are still extremely expensive for the average person in the UK. But that is as far as the price tag tells you. You can easily offset that price through government grants.
Buying and running an electric car in the UK is set to be cheaper than ever. The advantages and incentives on offer are exciting. Recently, the government reduced the grant by £500 in a bid to ensure the sustainability of the program. It argues that higher-priced models are targeted at drivers who do not need subsidies.
The grant came into effect a decade ago with the aim of encouraging sales. The price difference between a conventional car and an electric car was extreme then. The gap is still there, but it has reduced. This is one of the justifications of the government’s clear shift from dangling the carrot to using the stick to compel change.
Improved technology (Greater manufacturing scale/Improved battery technology)
The battery is the single most costly system in an electric vehicle. Most of the vehicles run on lithium-ion batteries. The measurement of the capacity of this battery is kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is directly proportional to price.
Six years ago, a study released by the Bloomberg NEF showed that the battery accounted for 57% of production cost. With the continual development of the electric vehicle, economies of scale are becoming more apparent. Prices have dropped significantly in the last decade.
Apart from economies of scale, the prices for lithium and cobalt have reduced in recent times. Several lithium mines have opened in the last decade in readiness for the Li-ion battery market. Reduction in price for this commodity should lead to more affordable batteries.
Cobalt also contributes to the high price of the battery. Researchers are surveying ways of reducing the cobalt content in the batteries. There are even suggestions of using the more available and affordable nickel in place of cobalt. Such efforts are contributing to the willingness of customers to invest in electric vehicles.
Environmentally friendly/Emission free
Perhaps the biggest reason you should get an electric vehicle is the fact that these cars are emission-free. For anyone living in the city or town, this feature will help reduce emissions significantly.
Indeed, these cars are still charging from the electric grid. Electricity generation is still reliant on fossil fuels. However, electric cars are emission-free because they run on batteries. Conventional cars produce fine particles from their exhausts. For the electric vehicle, there is no such problem. Without pollution, everyone’s health is safeguarded.
To add to this, most electric vehicles have higher recyclability than conventional cars. Some models in the market have reusable dashboards and upholstery.
Are you interested in an electric vehicle?
No doubt, the electric vehicle is exciting. Owning one is something, especially for sustainable transport. Unfortunately, electric cars are still out of reach for most people. Even when you have the money, this EV issue can confuse you.
The first step; do your math. The initial cost of an EV is still several thousand dearer than a comparable conventional car. On average, an electric vehicle costs about £50,000. But the electric car becomes largely free afterward. Maintenance is more manageable. Electric charging is more affordable than diesel or petrol.
You also want to do enough research because there is all manner of sizes and shapes of EVs. Remember that vehicle brand is paramount. Reputation is rarely far-fetched.
What is your range? On average, UK motorists drive about 50 kilometers per day. So before you invest in the latest Tesla vehicle, it is worth thinking if you absolutely need it. Car hires may work for you for longer trips.
With the ongoing debate around electric vehicle technology, more UK residents are getting interested. This will possibly show in sales figures this year. Manufacturing processes are also becoming more affordable with new technologies, especially around the Li-Ion battery. So expect the prices to become more manageable soon.
Author Tim Miller is an automotive mechanic and blogger with over 12 years’ experience in auto repair. The founder and editor-in-chief of obdsolaris.com, and garatos.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. – Image source: Unsplash
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