Breaking Down The Types of Cars
First and foremost: what are electric and hybrid cars? Well, there are three different kinds to be aware of and they are electric, hybrid and hybrid plug-in. Electric vehicles are equipped with a battery that's big enough to hold a lasting charge and don't need an engine or gas to run. Hybrids have a normal engine and an electric. They use regenerative braking to return power to the engine and in turn gets used to propel the car. Therefore, using less gas. A hybrid plug-in does exactly as the name suggests: recharges by plugging it in. The gasoline engine doesn't kick in unless there's no charge in the electric battery. These also use regenerative breaking as a means of saving gas.
Are They Good For The Environment?
Many automakers have aimed to dramatically increase production of electric cars in the next ten years. Some, like General Motors, even claiming they will stop selling gasoline-powered cars all together by 2035. Within the last ten years we have seen hybrid and electric cars become increasingly popular. Especially in the San Francisco Bay Area which is a hub for technology and innovation. Even with the increasing popularity of electric cars, there’s still a cloud of mystery and uncertainty that still plagues them. It makes people wonder, are these cars truly better for the environment than their fully gas-powered predecessors?
The Way These Vehicles Are Charged Make A Difference
On average, electric cars produce less carbon dioxide for every mile driven compared to gasoline-fueled cars. EVs are responsible for considerably lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional vehicles. A lot of the benefits of electric cars depend on how they get charged. Some charging stations are powered by coal and other non-renewable energy sources. So, in places where the EVs are being charged on a coal-heavy grid, the benefits of the EVs are less than they are in other areas with much cleaner power grids.
The good news is that because of the rising popularity of both electric cars and concern for the climate, many countries are being pushed to update their electric grids to make them cleaner than ever before. “The reason electric vehicles look like an appealing climate solution is that if we can make our grids zero-carbon, then vehicle emissions drop way, way down,” said Jessika Trancik, an associate professor of energy studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Recycling Of Their Batteries
Another challenge we begin to face with the rise of electric cars is the lithium-ion batteries that the cars utilize. Lithium-ion batteries are recycled at an alarming rate of about 5%. For comparison, the lead-acid batteries we use around the house are recycled at a 99% rate. Despite the low number of lithium-ion batteries that are being recycled currently, there is hope for the future. Just as we’ve seen an incredible amount of innovation in certain electric cars like Tesla, there is also that same level of innovation that is happening with the environment at the forefront. Nissan and BMW are some of the automakers who are inventing new ways for old EV batteries to be reused. Their idea is to take these old EV batteries and use them for grid storage. There are still many challenges that come with new ideas to help protect the environment, but the overall outlook is very hopeful and exciting.
We still have a long way to go when it comes to reducing emissions and making transportation environmentally friendly. There’s not a definitive answer to “are electric cars going to save our planet?” When we look at the data and previous experiments, we can see that there is a lot of hope and potential for how electric and hybrid cars can be utilized to help our environment. We’re steadily making progress every year towards a greener and more sustainable way of life.
What You Can Do If An Electric or Hybrid Car Isn't An Option
In the meantime, if you’re not in the market for a new electric or hybrid car, there are plenty of the ways you can help cut down on the emissions and pollution in our environment. There are rideshare services, like Uber or Lyft, offered in most cities that will take you to where you need to go, and you can share a ride with multiple people. Carpooling is an economical idea that can save the environment and your money. You could also get outside and take your bike or scooter if your destination isn’t too far away. Sure, taking an Uber or doing a carpool with your co-workers a few times a week isn’t going to automatically fix our environmental issues, but every effort counts. It just takes enough people to be intentional in the decisions they make by keeping the environment in mind.
If you're interested in other ways you can make a difference, Naturally Ideal's blog has plenty more articles to help you out!