Electric vehicle sales have steadily climbed for years and have recently begun to surge. They do not yet make up a majority of the market share, but if their sales trajectory continues they will within the next decade or two. This is a very good thing for both people and the planet. That is because there are a number of electric car benefits that make this clean energy transition in transportation something to get on board with.
If you are unfamiliar with all that electric vehicles offer, you may be surprised at how much making the switch matters. Technology has come a long way over the years, and the benefits now far outweigh the perceived disadvantages. However, EV education, as with education about the energy transition in general, continues to lag behind the advancements in technology. Not everyone understands the full scope of electric vehicle benefits and considerations. Let’s dig into them and make the scope clearer.
Electric Car Benefits to Get Behind
Even if you do not plan to purchase an EV in the near future, there are important electric car benefits that extend far beyond EV owners themselves. In fact, many things about EV’s benefit all of society, including cleaner air, less noise pollution and even a potential decrease in utility costs as more community members adopt electric vehicles. Here are some of the advantages of electric vehicles that may tip the scales when considering your next vehicle purchase.
Environmental Benefits of Electric Vehicles
Examples of the impacts of climate change have become front and center in many news feeds. These include longer, hotter summer seasons and an increase in billion dollar disasters. Some ideological disagreement on the subject still exists, but most scientists agree that climate change can be curbed with a reduction in carbon-emitting human activity. In the US, electric car adoption is widely seen as an important part of reaching carbon reduction goals.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that internal combustion engine (ICE) emissions account for roughly 29% of overall US greenhouse gas emissions, making ICE vehicles the number one contributor. As the shift toward electric vehicles, which produce zero emissions, becomes more prevalent, the higher the impact of reduced fossil fuel use by ICE automobiles will have on our climate and environment. This is one of the most important ways making the switch to an electric car benefits everyone.
Cleaner Air and Better Health
Cleaner air is near the top of most peoples’ EV benefits list. There’s good justification for it. Most retirement planning experts will agree that a large portion of our retirement expenses will go toward healthcare. With that in mind, reducing the risk of chronic conditions and exorbitant medical bills is a part of long-term retirement planning. This can include getting more exercise, eating healthier food and quitting smoking, but it also includes breathing better, cleaner air. The positive environmental effects of electric cars contribute to doing just that.
As mentioned, electric vehicles produce zero emissions, meaning they do not spew toxic chemicals into the air. Fewer toxins in the air equals fewer toxins in your lungs. The more densely populated an area, the larger the immediate impact of this reduction can be felt. Let’s take New Delhi as a case study.
A recent report found that the air quality in Delhi, the world’s most polluted city, could reduce the average resident’s lifespan by about 10 years. This potential reduction accounts for nothing more than the pollutants in the air. They are that impactful. Reducing the amount of pollution put into the air can lead to better health and longer lives for everyone in a community. The more small steps everyone can make, the larger the impact.
Less Noise Pollution
Speaking of electric car benefits that impact our health, reducing noise pollution can have a big impact too. Not sure how? It all comes down to the way the human body reacts to a constant stream of noise.
When you are chronically exposed to high levels of noise, your body reacts by producing increased levels of stress hormones. These hormones make you more agitated, disrupt your sleep and make it harder to concentrate. This can make you less effective at work and in managing your relationships, but it can also lead to more serious problems like heart disease and declining mental health. It is important to reduce exposure to excess noise where you can, and taking noisy ICE cars off the street and replacing them with quieter electric cars is a great step.
New Jobs and Economic Growth
Any time a new technology moves into the mainstream it brings with it jobs, often many high paying and in-demand jobs too. As electric vehicles slip into the forefront of vehicle purchases, new employment opportunities open up for young people that include multiple career path options. Some of those career paths include:
- Software developers
- Product designers
- Electrical engineers
- Electronics engineers
- Chemical engineers
- EV charging infrastructure installation and maintenance personnel
- EV battery production operators
- Electric car production operators
- EV service and maintenance technicians
These careers do come with one caveat. Many of these fields require a solid grasp of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts. Getting the youth involved in STEM education and training from a young age will ensure we have the capacity to fill the growing need for these roles in communities across the country.
Reducing energy dependence on foreign assets also provides a boost to the US economy. Shifting to locally produced electricity instead of foreign oil means more jobs within local communities, and more money per dollar spent staying in those communities. EVs provide a platform for jobs and economic growth, but investment in educational initiatives is an important part of that equation as well.
Lower Operating Costs
Along with providing a way to make a living, EVs provide a way to save money every day. One of the electric car benefits that excites most consumers is the cost savings associated with switching to an EV. Charging electric vehicles costs significantly less than putting gas in the tank, which means instant savings and more money in the bank.
Another way electric cars save money over the lifespan of the vehicle is that they have fewer moving parts than ICE vehicles, and fewer parts in general. This translates to less wear and tear, fewer opportunities for equipment failure and fewer trips to the mechanic. It is still important to maintain the electric vehicles to keep them operating properly, but EVs eliminate many of the highest ticket items when it comes to repairs.
Lower Utility Costs
Cost savings do not end with the pump and mechanic. Electric vehicles can also reduce energy costs across the board because each additional person who makes the switch to an electric car benefits the electrical grid due to something called revenue decoupling.
Revenue decoupling is already in place in a number of states, and pending in others. Decoupling disassociates an energy utility’s profits from sales, therefore disincentivizing sales and promoting energy efficiency. The utility is paid a fair price, set by the state, to provide reliable energy to the region it serves. Increased usage leads to lower individual bills, while decreased usage leads to higher bills.
As most EV users charge their vehicles overnight, when the strain on the grid is lowest, consumers eventually pay less for their energy with no noticeable difference in service. It is one of the advantages of EVs that most people do not see coming..
The Driving Experience
Another EV advantage is the driving experience. The first time most people drive an electric vehicle, they immediately notice that it is much more responsive than their ICE vehicle when it comes to performance. The electric motor allows for quick acceleration and braking is also more efficient due to regenerative braking, where the electric motor slows the vehicle and returns energy to the battery when letting off the gas, prolonging the life of your brakes and rotors. The location of the battery also provides a lower center of gravity, improving both handling and safety.
Electric Vehicle Disadvantages
Along with electric car benefits, there are also some perceived negative things about electric cars. Many of these perceived disadvantages come down to your use case. Electric vehicles are not ready to be the solution for everyone quite yet. A few obstacles need to be overcome for wider spread adoption to take place.
One EV disadvantage is the relatively short range when compared to ICE cars. The average EV at the time of this writing gets just shy of 300 miles on a single charge. For those who have grand plans of long road trips across the country, this sounds like a barrier to adoption.
However, considering the fact that 95% of trips in the US are shorter than 30 miles, the limited range barrier for longer road trips will eventually resolve itself.
Many prospective buyers are turned off by the fact that it takes longer to charge electric vehicles than it does to fill the tank on an ICE vehicle. This is a valid concern on longer trips. When traveling across the country, waiting 20 minutes to an hour or more for a sufficient charge to get back on the road poses a potential barrier to adoption.
Fortunately, EV charging has made great advances over the past couple years, and there’s no sign of slowing. For most consumers who travel fewer than 30 miles per trip, charging at home overnight will provide ample range for your day to day activities. For those who put more miles on their vehicles, by the time you hit the bathroom and grab drinks and snacks, you will have enough juice to reach your next stop.
Electric vehicles are still more expensive than the alternatives. There is no arguing that. Any time a new technology comes around, it can take a while for the price to fall to within everyone’s reach. Weighing the upfront costs of an EV against the cost savings associated with owning one brings them down to a rate more comparable with ICE vehicles. But if the upfront costs are prohibitive, even with all the electric car benefits out there, it may take some time to make financial sense.
Lack of Information
Most people simply do not know that much about the technology and the benefits of electric cars. It is an understandable reality with any new technology. The learning curve in the beginning stages can be steep, but as adoption increases and technology matures, it will level out. People learn about new technologies in different ways. Some through the news articles or social media, while others from friends and family who adopt the new technology and talk about electric vehicles’ advantages. Eventually the technology spreads and more and more people adopt and adapt, benefiting the larger world.
It must be said that the EV revolution is not possible without the people who make it happen. This includes everyone from the people who design and produce electric vehicles to the local mechanics who service them. With any powerful new technology comes the need for a highly skilled workforce. Starting the educational journey early is key to making the transition a smooth one.
Unfortunately, many students do not have access to a more robust STEM learning program or have not been inspired to develop STEM skills. This could present a barrier for not only young people but for companies looking for candidates to fill meaningful roles in the growing EV job market. Sponsoring an education outreach program that shows students the importance of EV adoption, the clean energy transition and the skills needed to fill future job opportunities can go a long way in getting more people on board with new technologies into the future.
NTC’s creative engagement strategies and proven school outreach methods make K-12 clean energy education outreach fun and educational. It is another tool in the toolbox to engage and inspire young people to access electric car benefits and be successful in the clean energy future.