Have you noticed that there have been a lot of commercials about electric cars lately? Do you think that electric cars are really the answer to our energy issues and reliance on fossil fuels? I started to think about the process associated with electric vehicles and did some simple research. Following are some simple points to consider.
First let’s look at the manufacturing process. Vehicle parts are manufactured all over the world in huge plants that care only about productivity, not energy efficiency and certainly not the plants impact on the environment. (Remember the god awful smog during the Beijing Olympics?) Plant parking lots are filled with hundreds of gasoline powered vehicles that bring in workers. The parts are then shipped out on a diesel fueled truck to the shipyards so that massive diesel engine powered ships can carry those parts across the oceans. Here they are placed back on diesel fueled trucks or trains for delivery to assembly plants with more workers, and so on and so on. Funny thing is, these saviors of the environment are delivered to dealerships on those same trucks and trains. Don’t even get me started on the batteries.
Second, what does an electric car run on? You guessed it, electricity. According to the Department of Energy, about half the electricity produced in the country comes from burning coal. All of which is mined by massive diesel powered machines and shipped to power plants via diesel powered trains and barges. Do you really believe the “clean coal” statement? Burning coal also contributes dangerous amounts of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other harmful chemicals to the environment.
Third, according to the Department of Energy, 50% of the energy produced in the country never reaches its end users due to the antiquated infrastructure that currently exists. While research is being done to improve these systems, it will take hundreds of billions of dollars to improve or replace the existing grids. Do you really want to create more demand for electricity?
Back to my original question, “Do you think that electric cars are really the answer to our energy issues and reliance on fossil fuels?” When creating the vehicle relies so heavily on the use of fossil fueled machines and requires the production of more electricity, my answer is a resounding NO! Until we can develop better ways to harvest alternative sources for electricity and deliver it more efficiently, we are only creating a fad not a solution.