There are many benefits to driving an electric vehicle (EV) – and for those of you who have not driven one, the first few will be less obvious, but they are really why I think EVs will take off:
- Convenience! This may seem an odd one to list first, but for everyday driving, it is downright convenient to have a fully-charged and pre-warmed (or cooled) car available to you every single day. It’s faster than stopping for gas every week or two, and no need to breathe carcinogenic fumes. I’ve stopped at gas stations twice in almost 3 years – for windshield washer fluid!
- Better driving dynamics; the car is fun to drive! The car is simply nicer to drive than any vehicle with an internal-combustion engine (ICE): there is a single-gear, so the car is very smooth in power delivery, no lurching or waiting for the transmission to catch up to what you have asked the car to do – when I put my foot down, the car goes! The huge amount of torque available from electric motors translates to far better performance around town then almost any gasser.
- Peace and quiet: no explosions happening under the hood, so the car is very quiet; it also means that the car does not vibrate either. (So quiet the government has mandated “vehicle pedestrian sound warnings” starting in 2019.) Anyways, it is always amazing to me how quiet the car is, even at highway speeds. It is less stressful for sure.
- Heat: when I get in the car after a day at the ski hill, I can have heat within 1 minute blowing out of the vents (proper heat). (Go to 9:47 at this vid)
- Cheap cheap cheap to operate and maintain – so cheap in fact, that buying my comparatively expensive (at the time) new Nissan Leaf with no incentives has already paid for itself on a cash-flow basis (and the savings will dramatically increase once car payments are done) – check out any of my cost posts here. If you are looking now, there are many great used options out there that can start saving you money today!
The environmental benefits are pretty substantial too, especially here in BC with renewable energy. However, let’s first consider the negative externalities of personal vehicle use:
- Congestion and scarcity (EV car can’t solve)
- Accident costs (EV car can’t solve)
- Costs for nature and landscape impacts (EV car can’t solve)
- Air pollution costs (EVs can help, both with public and private transport)
- Climate change costs (EVs can help, both with public and private transport)
- Noise pollution costs (EVs can help, both with public and private transport)
- Costs for water pollution (EVs can help, both with public and private transport)
- Costs for soil pollution (EVs can help, both with public and private transport)
- Costs of energy dependency (EVs can help, both with public and private transport)
So, please consider walking, biking, and taking public transit where you can to reduce private vehicle, since these actions dramatically reduce all of the above negative externalities.
We use an electrified cargo bike as our town transportation 6 – 8 months of the year in an effort to reduce car-use (our bike is 10x more efficient than our Leaf!), aside from the awesome side benefits of staying in shape, getting fresh air, teaching our kids an alternative way to get around, and the best parking spots everywhere!
But, back to the environmental benefits of EVs:
- They are at least twice as energy efficient as any comparable vehicle (all EVs get over 100 MPGe, the best Prius is at about 55 MPG).
- There are zero emissions from each vehicle, which dramatically improves air quality in your city (especially electrifying diesels, like buses). Let me go on a small rant and state that diesels are TERRIBLE for air pollution; scrap yours as soon as you can, even if you can only switch to a gasoline vehicle.
- EVs are the only vehicle that have a fuel source (electricity) that is continually getting cleaner, and can become much cleaner yet. Petroleum is scraping the bottom of the barrel now (e.g. refining oil sands, heavy/sour crude, etc).
- If electricity for EVs in your area does come from a non-renewable source, pollution (both water and air [like NOx, SO2, PM]) is more economically and easily controlled at a point source (e.g. a generation facility) rather than at your car.
- Lifecycle GHG emissions for EVs are lower than gasoline equivalent cars in almost all cases, and are dramatically lower for areas with clean electricity (like BC!)
- And finally, a note on scrapping your old pollution-mobile: don’t be afraid to scrap the darn thing! Getting it off the road is better. Once I get a post up that shows lifecycle emissions and pollution, you will see why (update: check out the graphs in this post). Vast majority of emissions and pollution from a gasser are in the operations phase. Responsibly scrap your vehicle and a very good chunk of it will be recycled into other products. Next best is to sell your vehicle to someone else, who likely is displacing an even older and more polluting vehicle, and you will help the cause by demonstrating demand for EVs. (This may surficially seem like advocating for consumerism; however I feel that on the whole this really is better for all of us.)
This is just a small selection of articles related to environmental benefits – I have been collecting links for some time and intend to publish a blog post with more detail in 2017.
What have I missed? Add it to the comments section below.
- Less risk of fire during dry times of the year (e.g. parking in dry grass areas) – no hot muffler to ignite things!
- Vehicles are dramatically more quiet; will really help with noise in downtown areas, which will encourage more outdoor cafes and community (actually one thing I forgot to mention along the same lines was SMELL! I was recently  at a public feedback session for a downtown planning session in Nelson, and the presenter had the audacity to suggest that the main bus exchange should be moved AWAY from downtown because of the smell of diesel buses! I don’t like the smell either, but the solution isn’t to neuter public transport even further, the solution is to just replace those relic stinkmobiles – they are doing it in Alberta [Edmonton and St. Albert] already, surely we can do it BC!).
I live in British Columbia, Canada where our electricity comes from Hydro (94 % hydro dams). I live on Salt Spring Island which has 90 electric cars for a population of 10,500. We have a network of 7 free level 2 charging stations distributed around the island for tourists and locals. Please consider adding to your list: 1) We can park on very dry grass in the summer with no risk of starting a fire. (this is a serious concern with summer folks outdoor folk concerts during a drought. 2) The cars are so quiet that over time and with increased number of cars, our down town noise levels will be significantly reduced, encouraging the return of citizens to outdoor cafe’s and local wild life, especially birds. 3). If I get a sore back, I fire up the quiet music, and put the electric seat on high and go for a relaxing and soothingly quiet back-restoration ride. Works like a charm.
Thank you for this summary. I have decided to distribute it to many of my ‘deny-er’ friends.
Hi, Thanks for the word spreading. I used to talk about the quiet EV’s being good for law enforcement – they could sneak up on the bad guys, but that was a bit of a stretch.
Please consider a visit to Salt Spring Island sometime, location of the highest density of EV ownership in Canada. I regularly pass 3 Nissan leafs on my way into town. We flash headlights and wave. Nice.
Have you seen Tony Seba’s film ?
Hi Jim – we would definitely like to come back to Salt Spring Island! We spent a few days touring around about ten years ago (I remember the sheep cheese farm, tasty). Might be a while before we get back that way with our Leaf though – mind you if we get DCFC’s across Highway 3 in 2017/2018 like I think we will, then we may just come out that way sooner.
We are very behind on EV adoption here in the West Kootenays, despite having a climate that is totally fine for them. However, we are up to 5 now, with 3 of those arriving in the last several months, so maybe the pace will pick up now.
I have not seen Toby Seba’s film – went looking for it tonight and came across a presentation he gave recently, but have not had time to watch it yet. What is the film called?
The seba film is the one he did in Norway in 2016. Called “Clean Disruption – Why Energy & Transportation will be Obsolete by 2030 – Oslo, March 2016”. I have seen loads of ECO-movies, and this is the most positive and tells why things will happoen so fast.
By population on SSI, based on the Canadian average, we should 5 Electric Cars. We have 90, and they are registered in a database. By estimating (and then verifying) that the average distance travelled is 10,000 km/year, we can calculate our island GHG emissions reduction. Easier to state, we can calculate we no longer require 100,000 liters of petrol to be imported onto the island on BC Ferries dangerous goods ferries. At 100 EV’s, we will be driving 1 million zero carbon kilometers per year on the island.
We also have a permanent loaner Leaf on the island from Motorize – Your EV store in Sidney. The best way to ger somebody excited about an EV is to get their butt into the drivers seat. The quiet/quick experience is an eye opener. Folks can borrow it for a few days.
I chair a group devoted to adding new free public chargers on the island. Very successful.
We are always looking for new ideas to keep the story in the local newspapers. We are exploring using the Leaf as a remote power source, extracting 120 AC during time of power outtages and emergencies.
Very cool! Exciting work happening on Salt Spring it sounds like 🙂 I like how you are tallying the displaced fuel.
Jim, I had a chance to watch the Tony Seba presentation this evening – gives me a lot of hope for the future! Great watch for anyone remotely interested in green energy and transporation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxryv2XrnqM
Yeah, really good film are hard to find. Great one to share with the open-minded, but undecided. 93 EV’s here now. Rocking !!!
This article is very helpful. It’s important to teach people on the benefits of EVs, and in general of sustainable mobility. Thanks!
You’re welcome 🙂