This article aims to look at the environmental impact that petrol and diesel cars have had on the environment and how electric cars can impact the environment positively and negatively. Of course, electric cars do not emit greenhouse gases directly into the atmosphere (if they are purely electric and not a hybrid), but they may have an indirect negative impact to the environment, since electricity is required to recharge them and if this is done through an unsustainable source (non-renewable) then it will still have a negative impact to climate change.
The first commercial car sales were made by Charl and Frank Duryea in 1893, this of course was a petrol car model since the first electric cars to be bought to market were in 2010 introduced by Nissan called the Nissan Leaf. From the 1890's to present, there has been exponential growth of cars being purchased and therefore year on year more fossil fuels are pumped into earth's atmosphere, resulting in climate change. This is apparent with a diesel car and petrol car, which both release carbon dioxide into the air and result in heat being trapped in the atmosphere. Average global temperatures are therefore rising gradually, this is not only due to petrol cars but other activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels, meaning loss of habitat for wildlife and a reduction in biodiversity.
Benefits of electric cars
A large number of benefits have come with the invention and production of electric cars. Benefits to consumers include lower running costs, lower maintenance costs and better performance. A benefit to society is that it reduces noise pollution due to the electric motor. Finally, the most important benefits in terms of sustainability are the positive impacts it has on the environment, the lack of carbon dioxide emission results in a much cleaner environment. If the electric car models are increasingly used in replace of petrol cars, environmental impact from cars will slowly reduce as long as the electricity used to charge the cars are renewably sourced.
Limitations of electric cars
The key limitation of electric cars is that the car is only as green as their power source enables it to be. This means that if non-renewable energy sources are used to power the car, they are not as good for the environment of as first thought as non-renewable energy sources such as the burning of crude oil emit fossil fuels into the atmosphere. Social issues that limit the use of electric cars include the lack of charging stations, and the long charge time. These two issues paired together will differ potential consumers to make the switch to electric cars as although petrol prices are on the constant rise, this inconvenience could outweigh the advantage of making the switch. The reason for this is due to the global shortage of essential charger components and the metals required to make said chargers such as lithium. Overall, these social issues indirectly affect the environment as it means customers are more unlikely to make the switch to a product with less environmental impact resulting in the continued use of petrol and diesel cars.
Hybrid cars are made up of electric car components crossed with components found in conventional petrol and diesel cars. They are environmentally friendly however not to the extent of electric cars since they still use fuel however, the combination of electricity and fuel means on average, drivers who have switched to hybrid vehicles save over $3000 annually on fuel, meaning less pollutants are entering the atmosphere as less is spent on petrol.
Overall, the mass implementation of electric cars to society will mean a reduction in the impact that cars have to climate change. Benefits of this will be the reduction in emission of fossil fuels into the atmosphere and hence global warming will be reduced. However, to enable maximum positive environmental impact more renewable energy sources will be required to fuel the charging stations of the electric cars. A successful implementation will also happen as long as more charging stations are available throughout city centres and homes of drivers. This strategy will cost the government a lot of money but will move to a more environmentally sustainable world. Fossil fuels such as petrol are finite so it is inevitable that electric cars are the future of travelling with a car therefore the implementation of them on a wider scale sooner rather than later is imperative.