Electric cars are inevitably in our future but is the technology advanced enough to achieve the same standards that have been set by gasoline cars? For years new electric vehicles have come out of the obscure shadows of which they are built, only to never gain traction in the market. The auto world is split on the topic of if current electric cars are good enough to cause a shift for everyone to drive electric and leave our gasoline days behind us. There is a new contender in the auto industry though and that comes from Tesla automotive. Electric cars seem to be poised to be here to stay but are they ready to take on gasoline cars that have been dominating the automotive market for more than a century?
For years environmentalists have been telling everyone that we need to change the course of how we travel by getting rid of our gas guzzling cars. The history of the electric car is a rough one however. Most Americans would tell you that electric cars are a recent invention but that is simply not the case. Electric vehicles have been around for almost as long as gasoline cars. The problem with electric cars is that they have never been as good nor advanced as cars that run on gasoline. The problem is range, you can go much farther with gas than you can with electricity. Electric cars were never made practical until one was released by GM in 1996. The EV1 was produced in an effort to meet the demands set by the California Air Resources Board which ruled that in 2003 10% of cars on the road should produce zero emissions. The EV1 failed miserably as most of the drivers could only squeeze at the most 80 miles onto a single charge (Carothers). The failure of this car caused GM to shut down sales in 2003. Another monumental failure that led to the rejection of the electric car as nothing more than a publicity stunt is the Fisker Karma. The Fisker came out in 2010 and disgraced the electric car and re-assured to the public that they may not be ready. The Karma fulfilled every terrible stereotype that has haunted electric cars. The car was expensive, its range was limited, and it occasionally burst into flames. After a few years of poor sales numbers and bad reviews Fisker went out of business despite receiving multiple handouts from the government. Once again electric cars proved themselves not to be worthy of the standards that Americans are used to with gasoline powered vehicles.
A question that has also haunted the electric vehicle is if they are safe enough to drive around. Multiple car companies, one example being Fisker, have gone out of business not only because of troubles with the battery but also problems with safety. Electric cars have always had a problem of bursting into flames. A problem that eventually led to the demise of Fisker. Electric cars present a design problem because they have to be built so differently from internal combustion engine powered cars. After all a gas powered car requires a fairly large engine, transmission, and other parts to make it run. While an electric powered vehicle only requires a few small electric motors. Also because of the nature of electric motors 100% of the power is available when the pedal is pressed while on the other hand a combustion dangerous if in the hands of an un-skilled driver. That is why modern electric cars are modified to restrict a lot of that power. The batteries in the cars also pose a risk as well. Since the release of the Tesla Model S two fires have happened related to the battery being punctured. The cars are designed in a way though to direct the fire away from the driver and in both these cases the car was replaced. As said by David Friedman from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “We believe they don’t pose any greater risks than gasoline-fueled vehicles” (Kohn). The electric car as long as it is designed properly will be as safe as gas cars and that is a reason why they should be ready to take on gasoline cars in the industry.
In the past electric cars have fallen short of what we are used to with gasoline powered cars. Now it is 2014 and a new wave of electric cars is on its way. It seems now that the electric vehicle is ready to face the cut throat world of automotive consumerism. The company leading this charge is Tesla automotive. Their Tesla model S is selling faster than any previous Electric vehicle with over 25,000 units sold (Mueller). Tesla automotive seems to be doing everything right when it comes to selling their new cars. The model S can compete head to head with any other 70,000$ luxury vehicle. The problem with range has also been solved with the Model S being able to travel 300 miles on a single charge. Every feature that comes with the Model S comes straight from the future. This top of the line electric vehicle comes with a plethora of features. From the push button start to the 17 inch touch display, the model S is exactly what the world needs to ease of its dependency on gasoline powered cars (Tesla). Tesla is also putting an infrastructure of superchargers across the United States to make cross country travel possible. These charging stations are exactly what an electric vehicle revolution needs. It is predicted that by 2015 a supercharger will be within the range of everyone in the United States and most of Europe. This is the dream that has been set forth by Tesla seems to be one that we can rely on for the future but is that reality. Apparently not coming from one skeptic at the New York Times who wrote a review on the Model S. In the review he had a chance to drive a model S on the east coast to test the capabilities of the model S in the real world. In this review, John Broder drove the car on a trip around the east coast lists all the problems he experienced. He says that because you have to charge the car you spend too much time on the roadside. John also claims that the 300 miles that Tesla advertises is false and that the mileage is greatly decreased when using amenities such as the climate control (Broder). As his trip continued John wrote that he had to make several stops at charging stations and in his final stretch the Tesla stalled and had to be towed to the nearest charging station (Broder). This pessimistic review of the Model S nearly ruined sells and lost the company nearly $100 million dollars (Muller). This incorrect review of the Model S was proved a lie later by Tesla as they reviewed the data that was recorded by the car. They discovered that the car always had the possibility to make it to the charger before it ran out and that any problems that John encountered was due to bad judgment. If this skeptic couldn’t discredit the Model S as a car that can’t handle our modern infrastructure than no one can. Since that review Tesla has continued to add more chargers to the east coast.
The technology that is seen in the Model S proves that electric cars are ready to take on the industry and that it is safe to make the switch to electric cars because they are going to be around for a while. Tesla has now paved the way for the electric vehicle and now other top notch companies are catching on such as Bmw, Porsche, and Nissan. As a building block to a world of electric cars these companies are using hybrid technology. Cars like the Bmw i8 and Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid are using small internal combustion engines and connecting them with an electric motor to obtain really high miles to the gallon. For example the new Porsche will get 85 miles per gallon which is pretty impressive considering it has 887 horsepower (George). Although a $845,000 Porsche racecar isn’t practical for your average daily driver it proves a point. The fact that top-notch automotive companies are investing time, money, and capital in electric hybrid cars is that they are ready to stay as an alternative to gas cars. On the more cheaper and mass consumer based side of things there are electric cars that are being made that are cheap to help spark the revolution. The Nissan leaf is an excellent example of a car that is bold with its all electric drivetrain. Although the Leaf is a couple of years old it will be considered one of the early pioneers that will change how we travel. In a few years when the supercharger network is completed across the United States and when Tesla makes a $35,000 electric car and SUV then electric cars will become much more common.
The long standing dominance of the gasoline powered car is impressive but it is time to usher in the electric car as a new king of automobiles. All of the past problems that the electric car has struggled with are gone in new cars like the Model S. In fact electric cars are becoming more of a desirable driving experience than gasoline cars. After all they drive smooth, there is no noise, and the atmosphere within is that of luxury. The future of the automobile industry is looking bright. There will be many positive effects when the electric car is more generally adopted from cleaner air to breaking off dependence on foreign oil. After nearly 100 years of failure the electric car is finally ready and advanced enough to ultimately replace gasoline powered cars.
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