There are many rumours, counter rumours and blatant inaccuracies reported with regards to the electric car which appear to have reduced the attractions of this particular vehicle to many people around the world. There are many possible reasons why the electric car has not taken off as yet but there are even more reasons why it will at some stage become the standard mode of transport around the world.
We will cover a number of factors to consider as the electric car moves closer and closer to becoming an integral part of the worldwide transport system.
One of the main reasons why the electric car is becoming more and more popular is the fact that there are negligible emissions from the vehicle which will significantly reduce the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which can then fall as chemical rain and has been directly linked with serious environmental issues around the world.
However, while many people will push the virtues of the electric car it is also worth remembering that no vehicle can ever be 100% environmentally friendly. In order to produce the electricity which will power your vehicle there will undoubtedly be some form of emissions into the atmosphere where this is directly associated with power stations, the production of equipment, etc. However, the damage to the environment caused by electric cars is only a minute fraction of that directly associated with petrol and gasoline vehicles.
Automatically many people assume that electric cars are 100% efficient and able to convert electric power into movement with very little wastage. However, this is not actually the case as from the electricity generating system to the end vehicle the efficiency of your electric car is around 20% to 25%. This compares to 20% efficiency for petrol and gasoline powered vehicles although when you look at the car alone the efficiency of your average electric vehicle is a very credible 70% to 85%.
The reason why the end to end efficiency of electric vehicles is a lot lower than many people would assume is that around 10% efficiency is lost between the power station and the electric socket, power stations generally only run at 33% efficient in turning fuel into electric with various other small inefficiencies bringing the level down to between 20% and 25% for electric vehicles in total.
However, when comparing like-for-like there is a significant variation in the conversion rates for electricity and petrol/gasoline into movement with the average electric vehicle using between 10 and 23 kW per 100 kilometres against the average petrol/gasoline vehicle using anywhere between 32 kW per hundred kilometres (for the ultra efficient Honda Insight for example) to an average of just below 100 kW per hundred kilometres. This lays bare the massive efficiency gains to be made from using electric cars let alone the other issues to consider.
The supply of oil
One of the main factors which will see electric vehicles propelled into the mainstream is the fact that natural supplies of oil have reduced significantly over the last few years. As a consequence, the price of oil has fluctuated massively over the last couple of years with regular concerns that supplies could be severely reduced in the future causing bouts of panic buying. The increasing number of hostilities in oil rich countries around the world has also added to the mix making it impossible to forecast the direction of the price of oil with any great certainty. An increase in oil prices automatically leads to an increase in the cost of running your petrol powered vehicle and has forced many car manufacturers to look elsewhere for their future.
There is also significant concern that a very small group of countries around the world effectively dictate the price of oil and many governments now feel as if they are being "held to ransom" because of their overdependence upon the black gold. This is another reason why electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular and investment has mushroomed over the last few years.
The stigma of an electric vehicle
Since Sir Clive Sinclair rolled out his C5, which was the first real electric vehicle to catch the attention of the UK consumer, there has been a certain stigma attached to electric vehicles which many manufacturers have found hard to shake off. However, while Sir Clive Sinclair may have been ahead of his years in relation to electric vehicles the electric vehicle of today is vastly more efficient than the C5 and slowly but surely the stigma is starting to evaporate.
Many great inventors have historically been ahead of the game which is one of the more bizarre reasons why so many of them have failed. Catching the mood of the consumer and releasing a new potentially revolutionary product into the marketplace are two very different skills and two skills which need to go together to make the whole situation work.
There is no doubt that over the years various governments around the world have effectively killed any substantial investment into electric cars. The likes of the US, the UK and other leading governments have often paid lip service to more efficient vehicles but behind the scenes there are unwilling to give up their substantial oil based incomes without introducing a long-term replacement. This, many people believe, is the one true reason why electric vehicles have not taken more of the motor vehicle market to date.
However, over the last few years there has been a significant movement towards environmentally friendly issues, green policies and something of a move against the use of oil and other potentially environmentally unfriendly products. This has forced many governments around the world to concede defeat in their battle to keep the electric vehicle market below the surface and now we are seeing significant corporate and government investment into this area.
While there are many reasons why electric vehicles have not made it into the mainstream as yet there are also many reasons why it seems almost inevitable they will in the future. Political interference, practical issues, efficiency levels and other factors are all starting to move the way of the electric vehicle market and we are likely to see significant further investment from large players around the world, expected to be complimented by tax breaks and direct government investment.