Is it Possible for EVs to Outlast Gas and Diesel Cars?
Gasoline- and diesel-powered cars may seem like rapidly-aging giants on the road today, but there's still a lot to like about the combustion engine. They're reliable, relatively easy to work on, and, with a little bit of work, can last forever. Residing near Detroit means that I get to see all types of old vehicles when the weather's nice. Despite all odds, cars from the 1920s with wooden wheels still exist. They're rare, but they're still out there.
When compared to the combustion engine, electric vehicles are still in their infancy and there's a lot that's up in the air when it comes to the reliability and longevity of EVs. In a lengthy piece, Autoweek took a look at the factors that could electric cars from having the same lifespan as their fossil-fuel powered counterparts.
Some Things That Can Go Wrong With EVs
The most expensive aspect of an electric vehicle, understandably, is the battery, claims Autoweek. As modern EVs reveal, great strides have been made in the world of batteries, as electric vehicles have usable ranges and the same creature comforts as gasoline-powered vehicles. While that's good news, there's a lot of bad news that comes with batteries.
As the outlet points out, mining the necessary items to create lithium-ion batteries utilizes a lot of rare metals, requires a fair amount of energy and has an impact on the local environment, as well as neighboring communities through pollution. Finding and obtaining the materials needed to create batteries, as Autoweek claims, is the most harmful aspect of EVs. Battery-powered vehicles may have become cheaper, but the environmental impact of the machines still remain incredibly high.
Building batteries for electric vehicles is a dirty job, but scrapping and recycling them is another environmentally hard aspect of electrically-powered cars. But we don't exactly know how long lithium-ion batteries will last in cars. Ten years? Twenty years? Or will it be based on mileage? These things still aren't answered and the way owners deal with the issue – opting for a new battery or simply purchasing a new car – is something that can't be researched at the moment.
Lifespan For EVs Is A Major Concern
Another major issue holding EVs back from fully replacing gas-powered cars is how quickly electric cars will become obsolete. Internal combustion engines, depending on what automaker made them and their features, tend to depreciate at a constant rate. But EVs don't follow the same trend, as advancements in technology tend to dictate how rapidly the vehicles lose value. Checking prices for original Chevrolet Bolts and Nissan Leafs reveals just how quickly prices for the vehicles drop.
The main reason for the decrease in price comes down to range. Early EVs were rated to travel just 100 miles on a charge, while new battery-powered vehicles and trucks are capable of roughly 300 miles. It's safe to assume that the next generation of electric cars will have even more range, leading to a vicious cycle that will only repeat itself. As Autoweek points out, seeing a 10-year old sedan on the road isn't memorable, but seeing a 10-year old EV in the future might be.
The last issue deals with battery technology itself. Autoweek believes that lithium-ion batteries are nearing the end of their usefulness – there's not much potential left to expand on. Looking into making solid state batteries, claims the outlet, that are cheaper to manufacture is imperative. Lithium-ion batteries aren't a long-term option for EVs, but a short-term one, which means that companies will have to explore new methods of holding a charge.
With these factors in mind, it's easy to see that EVs, at least the current crop of battery-powered machines, won't be on the road as long as a comparable fossil-fuel-powered machine. The next generation of EVs, though, could be.
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