The electric revolution is upon us. With almost every automaker now rolling out their first line of fully electronic vehicles, many are wondering when the potential for a cleaner future will arrive. Unfortunately, it might not be from the automakers at all.
The Issues With Electronic Cars
The major issue, even with the electronic revolution upon us, is simply space. Cars take up too much space. With many cities dedicating a large portion to vehicles, space has become a hot commodity. Trying to park anywhere can be a headache and can also deter people from visiting a specific place. While many are searching for safer and cleaner ways to travel, many are also looking for more inexpensive varieties.
Normal electric cars solve none of these problems. They reduce carbon emissions from burning fuel, but that’s it — and while that is a major benefit, they still have to be charged up with lots of electricity, which is still mostly generated from fossil fuels. Until the power grid is de-carbonized, even that benefit isn’t too great.
Electric Revolution: Batteries
Even with fully-electric cars, environmental problems can occur. The batteries themselves have a massive half-life, far longer than you or I will be around to witness. With these batteries comes the issue of manufacturing. In order for one of these vehicles to become fully operational, the battery itself needs a multitude of rare-earth elements.
Size Is A BIG Issue
The days when producing a small, energy-efficient vehicle are done and over. With the improvements in electric performance, many automakers are making the same sized vehicles as they did for regular oil-based engines. Auto manufacturers like Honda, Toyota, and now even Hummer will be rolling out large-scale vehicles. The ability for towing and hauling is a major reason why many stick with conventional methods as opposed to making the switch. Automakers like Ford and Chevy whose focus relies heavily on their pick-up selection have yet to make their name stand out amongst the foreign markets. This will not be the case forever as many within that area of the industry have their sights set on when the potential for larger hauling capacities can outdo conventional methods.
A big avenue many have their eyes on is the Crossover market. While not necessarily requiring the same amount of hauling capabilities as a Ford F-150, the cross-over has the size and weight that has become the foundation for how larger vehicles can utilize electric power.
Electric Revolution = Different Modes of Transportation
With most American drivers, they typically go from their homes to their office and then out and about. This requires a spot for their car at home, at work and wherever it is that they might end up afterward. Most times, they do this alone. Thus, approximately three-quarters of American drivers do this alone. Now, there are ways to get around this. With Uber/Lyft there is a decrease in those commuting from place to place with their own car, but that can be expensive.
Electric Scooters Have Popped Up
Many cities have seen an increase in alternative methods for transportation. Places like Philidelphia, Los Angeles, New York City, and many other largely populated areas have adopted electric scooter systems. The goal is to cut down on vehicle traffic through heavily congested city areas. With many people stopping to walk around, visit shops and explore, the amount of foot traffic far outweighs the amount of vehicle traffic in specific spots.
For a small fee, users can spend the day riding around the city and seeing all the sights within a designated area. The inclusion of these methods has cut down high-traffic areas exponentially. If the user moves out of the designated zone for a specific scooter, it will simply stop. The user then has to drag it back into its designated operation zone.
Electric Revolution: Skateboards
Skateboards provide a large dent in how many get from place to place. Many choose to opt-out of this method for the shear strain it can put on a user. Other variants of this form have been in development without the tiresome nature of the (somewhat primitive) design.
Now boards a bigger, longer and provide an increase in stability. With the longboard becoming one of the hottest new trends, many have seen the increase in size and stability as a means to improve transportation issues. The size has provided a larger platform for improvements.
Electric Revolution: Bikes
Electric bikes, as well as any other electrified forms, has presented itself as the real winners of the revolution. Many commuters in large cities have made the conscious choice to opt-out of commuting utilizing their vehicle in order to save money, clean the air, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. commuters who travel 10-miles or less have been a big proponent to utilizing safer ways for many non-drivers. With the invention of the electric bike, the strain that a bike rider would undergo is more than halved by the small electric motor.
Alternatively, many shipping services like Amazon and UPS have switched to electric bikes for inner-city cargo transportation. The switch has proven itself useful. In places like Philadelphia and New York City, it has put a dent in trucks blocking the road. This also reflects the amount of car-related injuries that many bikers face when taking opting for this method.
Improvements For The Industry
Many have seen past attempts at providing safer pedestrian areas. Others have made their judgment based on “the now”. This has proven to be more impactful and dangerous for many forms of pedestrian transportation. Where many have put their focus on energy effective cars and trucks, many are overlooking more practical means by skipping over bicycles and scooters.
Until these measures are looked at and taken seriously, the amount of vehicle-related accidents will still be high. This will continue to work alongside many of the other issues that have full-sized vehicles at the forefront of pedestrian issues.