Cars are cool. That factor has been a major driver of automobile ownership for decades. In fact, learning how to drive, and later on, buying your first car have both become modern-day rites of passage.
From window tinting and custom paint jobs to suspension lift kits and light bars, there are myriad additional ways to make your vehicle even cooler. But in the age of climate change, there’s no denying that the coolest thing to do is go clean.
Owning an electric vehicle (EV) ensures that your ride is powered by clean energy. Thus, you play a part in stemming the tide of global warming by contributing no further fossil fuel emissions as you drive.
Yet, for one reason or another, the widespread adoption of EVs has been variously forecast, only to be ultimately held back. 2021 or beyond may or may not prove to be the turning point, but here’s why now is the time to jump on the EV bandwagon.
Hybrids have peaked
Outside of car enthusiasts and historians, most people don’t realize that EVs have been around for over a hundred years. None other than Thomas Edison promoted the nickel-iron battery for use in the popular Detroit Electric cars in the early 1900s.
The upper-class market loved the quiet and comfortable ride, free from the odor, engine-cranking, and gear-shifting of gasoline cars. They also didn’t mind that EVs had a limited range of travel, which remains true to this day.
The problem was that over the years, paradigms shifted. Oil established itself as the dominant source of cheap energy across the world. Better and longer roads were built, turning the EV’s short-range into a real limitation. This incentivized ICE-based vehicle development for many decades.
Even as authorities began to enact measures to incentivize EVs around the turn of the millennium, they faced stiff competition from hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). HEVs offered a combination of electric power and fossil fuels. The technology was more mature and gave owners the ability to cover long distances while reducing emissions during stop-start city drives.
However, studies now suggest that HEVs have peaked. They suffer from an inherent flaw: a conflict between producers’ desires and users’ motivations.
Reducing emissions is not the same as zero emissions. The former is sufficient to make manufacturers happy from a compliance perspective. The latter is what it will take to make owners happy about driving a car in a world threatened by climate change, and only EVs offer that.
Perception drives adoption
This ties in to the matter of paradigms and public perception. People generally have a collective resistance to large-scale changes in technology. The first mobile phones were made in the 1970s. Despite offering cordless freedom, their overall talk time was unimpressive. It took time for improvements to battery life to catch up and tip perceptions.
Now, of course, we barely look back. Smartphones dominate modern living. We hardly consider it an inconvenience that we need to charge them daily, even multiple times. Plugging into available outlets or ports and owning power banks have become part of our paradigm.
The perception factor has always conspired against EVs returning to the status they once enjoyed at the beginning of the 20th century. Shifting perception will drive the adoption of this technology. We’ve already become painfully aware of the necessity to reduce emissions. Changing our attitudes towards vehicle charging will be a minor step in comparison.
The policy change may prove final
Perhaps the most decisive factor in favor of EVs will prove to be the shifts in government policy brought about by climate change.
In the UK, it’s been proposed that the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles, including HEVs, should be halted completely, effective 2030. Naturally, there have been objections from car owners and the auto industry. But the urgency of the issue will only increase, intensifying pressure rather than allowing for a gradual transition.
Norway leads the world in this regard. The country has the highest share of EV sales thanks to its ambitious goal of achieving zero automobile emissions by 2025. Other Scandinavian countries like Iceland, Sweden, and the Netherlands have similar measures in place.
Cars are inevitably a depreciating asset. But many owners still count on recouping some value when they eventually sell their vehicle after years of use. That’s not going to happen in a world where automobiles running on fossil fuels, even in part, are banned.
Why wait for the law to force you to make a change? Get a head start on the shift to EVs because it’s coming, no matter what, and sooner than most people might think.