For the environmentally conscious – few things can feel as guilty as owning a petrol powered vehicle. Yet, for most of us, this is just the reality we live in. Petrol based cars are still the most common vehicle, even though hybrids and purely electric cars are actively available.
Why is this the case? If electric vehicles represent a greener way to drive – and are supposedly cheaper to run, too – why are we so slow in mass-adopting this new technology?
Here mechanic, and passionate green bean, Giles Kirkland shares his know how on the green car industry and why it hasn’t yet gone that extra mile:
An Uninviting Market
When you want to buy a petrol or diesel based vehicle, there’s a plethora of choice. Whether it’s buying from a second-hand dealership or finding someone looking to sell their current car, there are options for getting a new transport on a small budget. With hybrid cars? Not so much.
When a hybrid car costs up to 20% more than a traditional equivalent, that’s enough to push it out of the lower bracket of budgets. Combined with the wider market of existing gas cars, for added competition, it’s simply a matter of not being able to afford a hybrid or electric variant. Sure, you might save money on taxes, insurance and incentives – although many of the latter require a first-hand car specifically – that still requires you have more money available at the start.
Electric Cars Often Aren’t Feasible
Another difficult barrier to entry for pure electric cars is that they may be nearly impossible to use if you don’t live in the right area. Owning an electric vehicle would require charging outlets within your immediate location. If these don’t exist, you’re likely not going to invest in something purely powered by these means.
Of course, if nobody in your area owns an electric vehicle, companies aren’t going to invest in a local charging station. It’s an endless cycle of both sides waiting for the other to spend money first.
There Are Still ‘Non-Green’ Parts
Similarly, no car is quite 100% green just yet. An electric car is certainly an eco-friendly option, provided you know where the power is coming from. If the power in your local station is coal-based, for instance, than you’re contributing to more emissions every time you charge.
Additionally, what about the car itself? Many cars are now made from recycled aluminium or steel, which helps a lot, but it’s just another factor to consider before calling any vehicle ‘green’. The same can also be said for your wheels. While economic tyres can reduce the fuel consumption of any vehicle – electric, hybrid or otherwise – where is this rubber coming from? In most cases, it’s a blend of natural Hevea tree extract and synthetic replications made from oil. While the rubber can be recycled or retreaded, it’s still worth noting that these cars have some of the same parts as traditional cars, with some of the environmental responsibilities as a result.
The same can also be said for the batteries. Older batteries contained various rare metals, making them less viable as a green option. Newer models use lithium-ion car batteries, which contain less rare materials and are recyclable but, again, a newer car means a higher price.
The Unknown Barrier
Finally, many people are often suspicious of things they don’t know. Electric vehicles are new and, for drivers who are use to traditional methods, this can be viewed as a risk or a threat. Yet research has shown that just giving these drivers an experience inside an electric vehicle can help reduce this uncertainty.
Ultimately, greener vehicles are better for the environment in the long run and represent massive steps towards a more sustainable, emission-light future for the automotive industry. Unfortunately, it seems there are many hurdles to overcome before this is achieved. However, there’s no reason why greater appreciation and enthusiasm can’t encourage the technology along, so an enthusiast applause for this technology is always welcome, even if most of us can’t afford a new tesla just yet.