It seems difficult to imagine our streets filled with nothing but cars run by electricity. But with the electric car’s growing popularity and a continued and increasing interest in sustaining a healthy environment, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
There were more than 55,000 electric vehicles in the United States in 2007, up from just 1,600 in 1992—an average annual growth rate of 26 percent. Electric cars run essentially as we’d suspect: they must be plugged in and charged before being driven. This mode of transportation helps the environment immensely, as electric vehicles emit no polluting byproducts like its gasoline-powered counterpart. What’s more, they are as much as 400 to 600 percent more efficient and considered safer than regular vehicles.
These benefits, among many other factors, led one of America’s automakers to retool the way in which they build cars. Ford Motor Company invested more than $550 million to reengineer one of its plants to build the company’s first all-electric vehicle. The battery-powered Ford Focus rolled off the assembly line in 2011. Once a company that staked its reputation on building some of the most profitable SUVs in the industry, Ford was forced to modify its business model due to changing consumer tastes and pressure from Washington to build more energy-efficient vehicles. Today, TSLA is the largest automaker in the USA by market value.
While the benefits of an electric car seem endless, some of its disadvantages should be known as well. They have a limited range—some needing to recharge after only 100 miles. Also, the time it takes to recharge the battery can take more than an hour. It should also be noted that there’s a difference between hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles. Electric and hybrid cars both use technology that is designed to decrease the use of gasoline fuel for powering car engines. Electric cars are just that—electric. Hybrid cars use a gasoline engine but have an added electrical system for propulsion. The electrical propulsion system is recharged onboard on an ongoing basis. This makes the car more efficient than just a standard gasoline engine. Unfortunately, racetracks won’t be as exciting with electric vehicles.
Simply put, all the cars on the road in the very near future will be dramatically different from just a decade ago. While they won’t be the Jetson’s-style vehicles most of us envisioned as kids, they will certainly be a welcomed change. And Mother Earth will thank us all.