The electric car does not produce CO2 or air pollutants during use, apart from the particles resulting from the wear of tires and brakes. She makes little noise. It therefore offers solid advantages, especially in the heart of cities. Are we all going to drive electric cars one day?
Is it the vehicle of the future? The electric car has one or more electric motors, powered by batteries, and recharges at home or outside via a special terminal (in the street, car parks, service stations). There are also hybrid cars, which have an electric motor and a combustion engine, as well as rechargeable (or plug-in) hybrids which can be recharged like an electric car (via a household socket or a terminal) and while driving. But what are their pros and cons? Let’s dive a little deeper!
- 1 Advantages of the electric car
- 2 Disadvantages of the electric car
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Advantages of the electric car
No air pollutants and no CO2 emissions during use
Electric cars do not release pollutants into the atmosphere when they drive. There is no combustion therefore no NOx, fine particles, unburnt hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide… often incriminated for their impact on health. However, there are still particle emissions from the tires and, to a lesser extent, the brakes (thanks to regenerative braking, the brakes are less stressed than those of a thermal vehicle).
Switching to electric vehicles therefore has an immediate benefit for air quality in cities and near roads. On the other hand, the way of producing electricity must also be taken into account: if it is produced with coal, the emissions of particles and sulfur are considerable.
Electric vehicles also do not emit CO2 during use. The carbon footprint of the electric car is better than that of a thermal car (petrol or diesel).
A bright future
One of the technical solutions is to drive on electricity. Provided that the total number of vehicles in circulation is reduced and electricity is produced from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, etc.). To give an idea, the number of electric cars in the world (including hybrids) should increase from 10 million in 2020 to 150 million in 2030 according to the policies and measures planned by the States. This is the “Stated Policies Scenario”. A more proactive scenario, called “Sustainable Development Scenario”, imagines a 30% share of electric vehicles among new vehicles in 2030. This would give 225 million electric vehicles (including commercial vehicles) on this date.
When it starts and when it drives, the electric car is almost silent. A real asset for the tranquility of cities. It is not the inhabitants close to the main roads who will contradict him. The problem: this can represent a danger for pedestrians who do not hear it coming. So be careful!
Economical in use
We know that current vehicles theoretically consume between 13 and 25 kWh/100 km (standard cycle). This amounts to a cost of €3.25 to €6.25 per 100 km (1 kWh costs on average €0.25). A gasoline or diesel vehicle that theoretically consumes 5 l/100 km costs between 6 and 7 € of fuel per 100 km.
The electric car requires little maintenance. The engine system is very simplified compared to a thermal vehicle (petrol, diesel or gas). There are a hundred times fewer rotating parts, there is no gearbox and no oil to change.
Thanks to regenerative braking (recovering part of the kinetic energy to make electricity), the brakes are much less stressed and the pads must be replaced less often than with a thermal car.
Disadvantages of the electric car
Batteries aren’t all nickel and dime
The production of batteries for electric cars poses major environmental and social problems. Their battery is made up of three main elements: an anode, a cathode and an electrolyte which allows the passage of ions.
The anode is usually graphite and the electrolyte is a lithium salt. As for the cathode, it can have different chemical compositions: NMC (Nickel, Manganese and Cobalt in different proportions), LMO (Lithium, Manganese and Oxide), LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate), NCA (Nickel Cobalt Aluminum).
These concerns remain, even as battery efficiency is changing rapidly. Between 2009 and 2016, they went from 100 Wh/liter to 350 Wh/liter, a capacity 3.5 times higher for the same size. At the same time, their price has been divided by three. Everything indicates that the performance of the batteries will improve further.
Charging remains a constraint
Long considered a limiting factor, the range of electric cars is changing dramatically. More and more models offer 300 km or even 600 km of range on a single charge.
Obviously, more autonomy means larger capacity batteries (up to 100 kWh), more weight, more manufacturing impact and more time to recharge them.
A range of 200 km is more than enough for daily use. It is only for longer journeys that the charging time can be a handicap, as long as the network of fast (high-power) chargers is not sufficiently developed. Aggressive driving and the use of heating or air conditioning decrease range. To go far, you have to spare your mount!
Charging time and station availability
As autonomy remains limited, ease of recharging is an important criterion. You can charge your electric car at home via a normal socket or at a domestic, public or company terminal. The number of terminals is increasing but remains limited. In towns where you don’t necessarily have a garage, a network of public terminals makes it easier to charge vehicles.
With the technological progress made on traction batteries, a new electromobility user is less and less confronted with the limits of a range that does not exceed 150 kilometers. Electric city cars now offer 300 to 400 km of autonomy, family models from 400 to 500 km.
It is expensive to buy
Manufacturers are offering more and more models, but the market is currently limited and prices are still very high compared to a conventional vehicle.
Electric cars generally cost more than €30,000 for popular models. A second-hand electric car can be an interesting alternative, provided that the battery does not have to be changed.