When electric cars first appeared, they looked like a way for the world to escape dependence on fossil fuels and move to an environmentally friendly method to power our transportation. High costs and poor battery performance have deterred many people from making the leap, which begs the question: can electric cars replace gas guzzlers?
Our love affair with cars dates back to 1908, when Ford Motor Company began mass production of the Model T on Henry Ford’s first assembly line. The automobile quickly spread through the world as an efficient means to travel to work, shopping trips, and to other cities.
Petroleum holds a large amount of energy, as 84% of the volume of crude oil can be burned and converted to energy. Can you think of any other substance that can take you and 2,000 pounds of car 30 or more miles on just a gallon of it?
Few people can, which is why gasoline fueled cars have been the norm for over 100 years.
Over time, engineers have searched for other methods to power our cars. Modern methods include hydrogen-powered vehicles running on hydrogen fuel cells, but creating hydrogen fuel cells takes as much energy as it expands, so not necessarily practical or cost effective.
Another option is plant-based fuels, such as corn-based Ethanol, which is a major component in E85 fuel, and oil and fat based Biodiesel. This has worked well in Brazil, where enough sugar cane is grown to fuel much of the country’s transportation needs.
Electric cars have had the best adoption of alternative powered cars thanks to a number of factors. First, the cost of electricity is competitive for consumers with the price of gasoline. Second, nearly everyone with a car has a power outlet in their home. Recharging is easy, so what is stopping us?
The first major obstacle to replacing gas-powered cars with electric vehicles, is the cost. Upfront costs of electric vehicles have historically run higher than gas cars. New technologies are bringing the costs down to be more competitive, but the purchase price is still something to consider.
However the biggest hindrance to electric vehicle ownership for many people is the battery, and the range. It is not uncommon for most EV’s to have arange of less then 100 miles.
So until battery technology improves, most of us are stuck with our trips to the pump, but in the future with improved technology, our gas guzzlers might become a thing of the past.