Few people know that 100 years ago, it was a hair's breadth away that electric motors did not become the dominant alternative to internal combustion engines. Today it is clear that all of humanity would have been better off if it had, but fortunately electric cars are gaining ground worldwide, resulting in outstanding environmental benefits. However, the technology is still in its infancy, so those who consider buying an electric car need to think carefully about their decision, not only from a practical but also from an environmental point of view. This article looks at the advantages and drawbacks of electric cars and how to use them in the most environmentally friendly way.
Balancing the pros and cons
There are many factors that can lead us to buy an electric car. They require much less maintenance than their petrol-using counterparts and have a much longer lifespan. In addition, because they are powered and charged by clean, renewable energy, their use could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90%. They also do not emit polluting fumes, so if many more electric cars were on the road, we could enjoy much cleaner air in crowded cities. Their operation is almost fully silent, which means they also help reduce road noise pollution, which is one of the biggest sources of stress for urban people.
But electric cars also have their downsides. Per unit, 16 to 19 tonnes of carbon dioxide are emitted during the production of their batteries, compared to just 7 to 10 tonnes for petrol engines. In addition, rare metals such as lithium are used to construct them, which is often mined unethically and, because of its rarity, supplies are finite.
Electric cars can travel relatively short distances on a single charge. The minimum range is 135 km, the maximum, which is only a feature of the most expensive models, is 637 km, but the average distance is around 313 km. As the uptake of electric cars is a relatively recent phenomenon, there is no sufficient infrastructure in place to charge them yet. So, if one wants to travel longer distances, they need to plan in advance where they will stop to charge, which also means longer rest periods due to the long charging time.
How to make driving an electric car eco-friendly?
Despite all cons, it is clear that petrol cars need to be phased out and electric cars are the way of the future. But how can we offset the environmental concerns of their production? It can be overcome by ensuring that as few cars as possible are put on the market. One way to achieve this is not to own a car but to use electric car-sharing services. We can also join forces with neighbours, friends, colleagues, or schoolmates so that the person who is already using an electric car can give us and several others a lift, thus distributing the environmental burden of transportation more evenly.
There is no question that the uptake of electric cars is much better for the planet. Until a more advanced, less polluting technology is developed for their production, we can reduce the strain on the environment by thinking ahead and using them wisely.