In this new-age yearning for sustainable living, we are finding that many of the conveniences we have taken for granted are causing harm to the world we live in. For example, transportation has certainly taken one of the worst tolls on Earth’s environment. For this reason, scientists and researchers are doing their best to find ways to keep transportation fast and efficient, but with a lower cost to the earth.
As far as automobiles go, electric cars are being manufactured and popularized as an alternative to gasoline-run vehicles. This hasn’t been without trial, with the White House recently eliminating its subsidies for electric vehicles and leaving automotive companies to juggle electric- and gasoline-powered vehicles rather than focusing on the switch to the former. But there has still been a significant amount of headway in the sustainable vehicle movement.
Despite these signs of progress, electric cars still have one big hurdle they need to overcome if they plan on overcoming gas-powered vehicles, and that is their battery lifespan. Currently, warranties on such vehicles run for about 8 years or 100K miles, which for electric cars means that’s as far as automobile companies are willing to trust them. If their battery life could long outlast the traditional automobiles, they may have a better shot at popularity.
Luckily, we know new technology in the automobile industry — especially that which is based around sustainability — generally has to go through some time lapses and mechanical trials before it catches on. We know that because, believe it or not, sustainability has been a part of the automobile industry for a few decades now.
Sustainability and the Auto Industry
Rethinking Prosperity believes that sustainability as a movement started all the way back in 1969, when the U.S. government initiated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in response to the Santa Barbara oil spill of the same year. This brought industrial pollution to the eyes of the public on a widespread level. Soon after, the health dangers of pollution were made well known, drawing attention to cars.
Gas-powered cars are convenient, but public pressure eventually caused some automobile companies to begin leading the way for sustainability within their own industries. As exemplified in an infographic by the Northeastern University D’Amore-McKim School of Business, companies such as Subaru and Honda have worked hard to reduce their carbon footprint. Notably, Subaru has produced 0 percent waste from their landfill since 2005.
We still have a ways to go, and electric cars aren’t perfect either. The batteries of these cars specifically have some dangers and drawbacks that electric automobile companies are working to address. Whether it’s been Tesla reducing cobalt, the Bollare group working to eliminate safety risks, or Pellion Technology’s work on energy density, the history of sustainability in the auto industry is still being written. However, these companies are ushering us into the future.
The Market Demands
So with the public becoming informed with factual information about environmental causes reaching the world at large, the market has begun to demand more sustainable options for cars they drive. People care about the world they live in, and have in turn given automobile companies a lot to answer for — and they have started getting responses.
There are already a number of electric cars in the making, from sports cars to even Volkswagen bus-type vehicles. These vehicles are being built to keep customers satisfied and will be incorporating more serious safety measures in addition to being eco-friendly. This could make them viable options from the get-go for young drivers, seeing as safety measures are one of the most important concerns in cars for young adults to learn to drive with.
The batteries of these electric vehicles are the key to their role in the sustainability movement and efficiency. While there are always improvements to be made, they have an undeniably positive impact on the world of automobiles, to the extent the government has even gotten involved. That’s right — the U.S. government actually encourages these kinds of batteries via a pretty hefty tax credit for using them (something that hasn’t yet been taken away by the Trump administration).
How This All Has Led to Long Battery Life
The fact is that electric cars have to compete with traditional cars. Right now, if you buy an electric car, you are going to have it for roughly the same amount of time as a non-electric vehicle. Since electric cars are so expensive to purchase upfront, people often choose to go with a gas guzzler because it makes the most sense for them financially. However, what if the eco-friendly cars could last you longer? For the rest of your life even?
That’s what researchers are looking into right now, and there has been a little bit of headway recently. A team of researchers in Dallas made some progress by switching from lithium-ion batteries to lithium-sulphur batteries, which hold more energy and are better for the environment. However, they’re a worse conductor for electricity, and can quickly become unstable with multiple recharges. Hopefully, they will be able to create a mechanism to fix this, however, so they are reliable for automobiles and general transportation.
It’s possible that the cost and efficiency of these new batteries and cars could popularize green driving. A life-long battery life would make a more expensive vehicle a smarter investment for a driver personally and offer more eco-friendly driving options to begin with for new drivers, which could propel them to become defaults in the modern world. Only time will tell how this plays out, though.
And we can’t forget that sustainability is a process, so sometimes the popularization of these things take time. Hopefully, the White House’s new rulings on electric vehicles don’t slow sustainability down for too long. The market is demanding it, and the world needs it. With this recent advancement in battery life for electric vehicles, we could have a very green future ahead of us.
Do you drive an electric car? How long does your battery generally last? Let us know in the comments below.