The Future of Electric Vehicles 


Electric vehicles have become a hot topic in recent years as the technology has gained traction among mainstream automakers. Electric vehicles have become a hot topic in recent years as the technology has gained traction among mainstream automakers. As such, the technology is far too young for experts to speak with certainty to its eventual destiny. However, as many brands have promised to release new electric vehicles onto the roads, the topic does warrant some speculation.

Battery Technology

Currently, the foremost type of electric vehicle battery is the lithium-ion battery. Using this technology, however, the furthest range that a mass-market electric vehicle has reached is around 300 miles of mixed city/highway driving on a single charge.  To achieve this distance, the battery is quite huge and heavy.

Consequently, many companies and startups have been working feverishly on both new battery technology and improvements to existing battery systems. The Wall Street Journal observed that several startup companies are investigating replacing the graphite anodes in current lithium-ion batteries with silicon, and also reported in July 2017 that Toyota was close to producing new, solid-state car batteries. Most new battery technologies promise at least improved electricity storage, and many also add faster charging times.

Infrastructure

Charging infrastructure is one of the largest obstacles to the expansion of electric vehicle adoption. However, if plans already in the works come to fruition, this will no longer be the case.

Most prominently, in November 2016, the White House announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation would be creating 48 electric vehicle charging corridors along major national highways. Relying on collaboration with local organizations and governments, this web will cover almost 25,000 miles and 35 states, with car charging stations every 50 miles.

On the other hand, there is the matter of home charging stations, which is how most electric vehicle owners charge their cars on a daily basis. While this is highly convenient for the vehicle owner, it could pose a problem in the near future for suppliers of electricity. The current electrical grid isn’t equipped to handle a population with a large number of cars drawing power.

In spite of this problem, NPR reports that several utility companies are encouraging electric vehicle sales and adoption, with an eye to boosting recently stagnant electricity demand.

Clearing the Air

Ultimately, electric vehicles joining the roadways and replacing some of the internal-combustion vehicles is expected to contribute to cleaner air. For this reason, countries such as England and China have announced a future wholesale ban on gas and diesel vehicles, while states like California have actively encouraged electric vehicle adoption.

This does raise concerns that electric vehicle adoption could simply shift air pollution generation from the roadway to the power plant. However, studies by the Union of Concerned Scientists have shown that even when factoring in the emissions by power plants, electric cars produce vastly less pollution. The quickly rising number of more efficient natural gas power plants and renewable energy sources, like wind turbines and solar panels, render that concern even less credible every day.

Above all, the future of electric vehicles has many avenues it can take; hopefully moving toward bigger and better cars with more convenient charging, and resulting in cleaner air for everyone.

 

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