Year after year on the world-transport-activity stage, on-road travel accounts for the largest share.1 In the USA alone, meanwhile, there are over 250 million registered automobiles and trucks and buses total, yet only a small fraction derive their propulsion means from 100 percent electric power – about 160,000 light-duty vehicles in 2016.
Across the globe as of that same year, of a total 1.4 billion cars and light utility vehicles, roughly 0.15 percent or 2.1 million are street-legal, plug-in electrics.
As for the electric vehicle’s future, it looks like it has one, a very promising future, in fact. Estimations are that world sales will be about seven times what we see today in seven years’ time. Meanwhile, the increase in year-to-year electric vehicle sales continues unabated.
Adds the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA): “Promoting investment in electric drive helps ensure that the U.S. does not lose its competitiveness in a market that we built. That market includes the nearly 700,000 plug-in vehicles that have been sold since entering the market in 2010, as well as an increasingly robust supply chain of manufacturers, suppliers and infrastructure providers. Consumers have more choices than ever to drive electric, with close to 40 models of plug-in and fuel cell cars available today. Options are slated to expand exponentially across price points and capacity. Every major automaker in the U.S. now has at least one plug-in vehicle in the market and nearly all have announced plans for major investments in expanding electric offerings.”2 (For more information and for current, related data, look here).
In terms of electric vehicle operation, Norway is the undisputed leader. The following is from Evaluating 15 years of transport and environmental policy integration – TERM 2015: Transport indicators tracking progress toward environmental targets in Europe.
“Outside the EU [European Union], Norway is the leading market for EVs [electric vehicles] in terms of market share among EEA [European Environment Agency] member countries. Of the new cars sold in Norway during the first half of 2014, almost 14% were electric (including PHEVs [plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles] and BEVs [battery-electric vehicles]).”3
The other side of the electric-vehicle-operation equation is the battery or electric-propulsion aspect. Batteries, incidentally, currently last anywhere between eight and 10 years on average.
The three main facets of electric vehicle operation are:
Firstly, charging infrastructure availability and the time required to recharge batteries and related to this, driving range. Secondly is the resource renewability or sustainability aspect of the charging mechanism (meaning are batteries being recharged using renewable energy sources or using electricity generated via the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas?). And, thirdly, is the matter of used or expended battery disposition – how are batteries being disposed of; in environmentally friendly or environmentally unfriendly ways? Can components or materials used to make batteries be recycled or even reused? These considerations are each and every one important.
As it has to do with the charging-infrastructure side of things, the Plug In America organization in a Nov. 9, 2017 press release relates: “Today, Plug In America signed on to the Transportation Electrification Accord, a set of guiding principles that will help policymakers, transportation and utility sector stakeholders advance the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the U.S. to achieve electrification of the transportation sector.”
Down the road, the hope is to examine the other electric-vehicle-operation considerations in more in detail later as more information on this becomes available.
Really brief electric vehicle history
As odd as this may sound, electric automobiles debuted in the 1830s. It took another 50 or so years before practical electric-car production was in vogue in the year 1884 in London, England; the batteries for such being rechargeable. For a time – during the late 19th and early 20th centuries – this was the preferred method of car travel due to the electric car’s comfort and ease of operation compared to internal-combustion-engine-powered motorcars. The enviable position once held by the electrics, as we all know, just didn’t last.
- International Union of Railways, “Figure 7 Global transport CO2 emissions by mode share in 2005,” High Speed Rail and Sustainability, Nov. 2011, p. 15
- Electric Drive Transportation Association, “EDTA Letter to Chairmen Brady and Hatch Regarding H.R. 1 Conference Committee,” Dec. 7, 2017 press release
- European Environment Agency, “Box 3.3 Evolving registrations of electric vehicles,” Evaluating 15 years of transport and environmental policy integration – TERM 2015: Transport indicators tracking progress toward environmental targets in Europe, “No 7/2015,” p. 26
Image above: Wikimedia Commons