The pressing need to combat climate change has accelerated our search for greener transport solutions. With oil reserves depleting and our carbon footprint increasing, finding alternative concepts for automotive propulsion is essential.
The electric vehicle (EV) is being hailed worldwide as a vehicle that can move us towards this greener future. Due to its capacity to tap into sustainable energy resources, the EV has the potential to make commercial, technical and environmental sense. No wonder EVs drew crowds at Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
Revolution round the corner?
Ambitious plans abound. Britain, China, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Japan, Portugal and the USA and are amongst the many countries that have ambitious plans to roll out EVs to the people.
For example, Silicon Valley start-up Better Place signed a deal with Renault this summer to put 100,000 electric vehicles on the road in Israel and Denmark by 2016. In Portugal, 1,300 charging stations are due to appear by 2011, with 230 running by 2010 and 100 ready by the end of this year. In Berlin, 500 charging stations and 100 EVs are planned to hit the streets by the end of next year in a pay-as-you-go scheme.
And in China, car manufacturer BYD Auto plans to launch its first mass-produced EV by the end of this year in a bid to be the world-leader in EV production. China’s action could well be the tipping point that kick-starts the EV revolution once and for all.
Not without scepticism
But amidst all the hype, scepticism abounds. Not everyone is convinced that the EV should or can be a success. Some critics believe, for example, that it is more realistic and possibly even more environmentally friendly to optimise fuel engines or go hybrid instead of developing EVs.
Sceptics also point out that charging stations will cost a fortune to install and that the industry lacks standards for charging components and methods. Furthermore, there’s a long way to go before countries have enough renewable energy to power a nation of EV drivers.