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!).