Perhaps the most well-known benefit of owning an electric car is its fuel efficiency. Electric vehicles are able to use almost 80% of the energy to give power to the wheels. Standard petroleum burning cars lose two-thirds of their potential energy during consumption, leaving them at about 12-30% efficiency.
Business Insider wrote an article in 2018 spelling out the state of CO2 emissions that the world is in saying, “The concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere hasn’t been as high as it is now since long before humans existed.” The effects of this are potentially catastrophic. The article also details “CO2 levels will dramatically increase pollution and related diseases, potentially slow human cognition, cause extreme weather events, and broaden the ranges of disease-carrying creatures like mosquitoes and ticks.”
Needless to say, we’re in dire need of some changes. Transportation makes up a huge portion of our global CO2 emissions. Electric cars have zero direct emissions (which are the emissions that typically come from your tailpipe exhaust) and have fewer life cycle emissions. In the process of producing, and operating an internal combustion vehicle there are a ton of emissions.
The first emissions are produced when actually manufacturing the car, then when petroleum is extracted from the ground, where it’s turned into gasoline, then it has to be distributed to gas stations then finally burned in the individual vehicles. Electric cars are not completely carbon neutral and there are emissions in the production and manufacturing, but their effect is much smaller than conventional gasoline vehicles. Changing to electric cars is the first step towards removing up to a third of our CO2 emissions.This both will benefit the whole world but also wherever you live on a local level.
No Exhaust smell
Living in Los Angeles, I’m pretty familiar with traffic. One part of traffic that will always stick with me is the smell of exhaust. The smell is a constant reminder of our CO2 emissions. And there are actually negative effects of inhaling CO2. It takes a high concentration of CO2 in the air for any immediately fatal effect to take place but consistent exposure to it can have lasting effects. One study showed that there can even be lasting cognitive effects of CO2 just from living with plants in your house.
Because electric vehicles have zero direct emission, there won't be any more of those smells when everyone is driving electric.
Better for the Environment
Electric vehicles are better for the environment than internal combustion vehicles. (Read “Can Electric Vehicles Save The Earth?) The subsequent benefit of fewer emissions is that the environment improves. There are a lot of things at stake when it comes to reducing our global CO2 emissions. This article is not supposed to guilt-trip anyone into buying an electric car (or maybe it is). But as a refresher, here are some of the ways that CO2 emissions affect the environment: increased global temperatures, pollution, more ticks and mosquitoes, hurricanes, fires, famine, stress, anxiety. I won’t say more, even though there are a lot more.
There’s a definite domino effect that takes place when a portion of emissions is reduced, and if you can imagine when there’s 100% adoption of renewably sourced electric vehicles mother nature will give us all a big hug.
Save the bees
Among some of the animals and insects affected by global warming are bees. 75% of all the crops that produce fruits or seeds that we eat require pollination. Bees are a crucial part of that pollination process, and their numbers are rapidly declining at roughly 30% per year. Global warming isn’t the only factor that’s making this population decrease, but rising global temperatures are killing off a lot of southern populations of bees. Similarly extreme seasons make the pollination timing difficult.
So if you like food, then save the bees. One way you can do that is driving using renewable electric energy.
Sleep Better at Night - Carbon Footprint
One issue of being a child of the 90s is the ever-waking knowledge in my head of my personal carbon footprint. Although the production of electric cars does not have a smaller carbon cost than gasoline-powered cars now, it eventually will. This is only an economy of scale issue. As demand increases, technology increases, and with that carbon costs decrease. Many electric companies are actively looking to become carbon neutral. Polestar uses completely sustainable recycled materials for its car interiors. They’ve also built a factory in China that runs completely on renewable energy. You can read more about that here. Using an electric vehicle (powered by renewable energy) does actually offset your individual carbon footprint. So you may be able to sleep better at night knowing that.
When we emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere a lot of toxic chemicals are collected in the air, and we may come in contact with them when heavy rainfall occurs. Also, the depletion of the ozone makes us more susceptible to skin cancer from increased exposure to UV rays from the sun. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences suggests that we can reduce these effects by using “energy-efficient power generation, lower vehicle miles traveled, [and] decreasing toxic outputs of fossil fuel-based transportation.” The WHO estimates that “Climatic changes already are estimated to cause over 150,000 deaths annually.”
Fewer Heart Issues
Similar to cancer, heart and lung issues can be traced back to emissions. One study that evaluated the effects of climate change on heart attacks found that the warming planet would “increase the burden of temperature-related heart attacks.”
Here’s an excerpt from an article in Science Daily explaining this phenomena,
“The environment can have a major effect on the human cardiovascular system. It has long been assumed that severe spikes in temperature increase the risk of heart attack. ‘In the case of very high and very low temperatures in particular, this has been clearly demonstrated. In this latest study, we wanted to see to what extent the heat and cold-related heart attack risk has changed over the years,’ explains Dr. Kai Chen, researcher at the Institute of Epidemiology at Helmholtz Zentrum München.”
Improve the air
Pollution kills more than 9 million people every year. CO2 pollution has been proven as a link to increased cases of lung cancer, allergies asthma, and cardiovascular disease. With zero direct emissions, electric cars do a lot to offset CO2 emissions.
Electric cars have fewer parts than conventional gas vehicles. The battery gives power to the motor, which gives power to the wheels, that’s it. This means that there’s no transmission, no oil changes, no spark plugs, no catalytic converter, radiator, or any other exhaust. In a comparison between a gasoline powered vehicle and an electric both driving 12,000 miles a year, the electric vehicle saved $627 a year just in fuel costs. Over five years that equates to over $3,000.
Maintenance costs are also cheaper, AAA’s Your Driving Costs report revealed that average maintenance costs are growing, and have grown 8.9% since last year for standard gasoline vehicles. For electric vehicles the cost increase is not reflected. Electric vehicles have the lowest maintenance costs per mile at 6.6 cents per mile with SUVs being the highest at 9.6 cents per mile.
The largest potential maintenance cost to electric vehicle owners is the battery. You won't have to worry about this unless you plan on keeping the car for longer than a decade. If you do plan on that, current costs put at getting an equal or better replacement at anywhere between five to ten thousand dollars.
But, don’t let that stop you, there are a few other considerations. The first being that battery costs are decreasing very rapidly, and it can be assumed that in 10 years the cost for a replacement battery will be in the sub $5,000 range. Also, you may be able to reuse the battery, depending on what type it is. Some companies are discovering ways to replace individual cells that may have gone bad.
If none of those options work, you may still be able to sell your old battery to help offset the cost of a new one. Regardless, prices will be much cheaper by the time this problem arises (if you’re buying a new electric vehicle).
Electric cars are simpler than internal combustion vehicles, they don’t require an engine or all of the components needed to run one. Because of its simplicity, it’s more reliable and runs for much longer than a typical internal combustion vehicle.