#200 – Inside Our Industry – Electric Vehicles Face Difficult Road Ahead

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

The following gives a great summary of what we see for the future of electric vehicles. Is charging your electric vehicle with fossil fuel generated electricity going in the right direction? The transition will take time.

Electric Vehicles Face Difficult Road Ahead

Mike Patton, Forbes.com, May 7, 2024

Green energy supporters and the fossil fuel industry are engaged in a significant PR campaign to sway public opinion. Although a future with all electric vehicles may sound appealing, there are significant obstacles in the way such as the need for fossil fuels to generate electricity, a lack of infrastructure, and the cost of an EV. Will electric vehicles replace the internal combustion engine? It seems that a world where all, or most vehicles are powered by electricity may be a utopian dream. Why? Fossil fuels power the world. That’s not a political view, it’s a statement of fact. Making the transition to a green energy future will be challenging.

Most Electricity is Generated by Fossil Fuels

What are fossil fuels? Fossil fuels include coal, natural gas, and oil. How are fossil fuels used to generate electricity? Fossil fuel power plants burn these carbon fuels, which generate steam, propelling large turbines that produce electricity. More than 60% of the world uses fossil fuels to generate its electricity. Which countries are most dependent? Please refer to the chart below. South Africa is the most dependent as fossil fuels are used to generate about 86.2% of its total electricity. India is next at 77%, followed by Australia at 66.8%, China at 65.1%, and the United States at 59.7%. Together, these five countries account for about 40% of the world’s population. Thus, fossil fuels are an essential element in the production of electricity for a large portion of the world.

Infrastructure and Electric Vehicles

Mass adoption of electric vehicles also hinges on the development of infrastructure. For example, if your vehicle has an internal combustion engine, you can easily pull into a gas station, fill your tank, and be on your way in under 5 minutes. If you drive an EV, you must find a charging station, plug in, and wait. How long do you have to wait? It depends on several factors, but it can take up to 40 hours, perhaps more. One factor is the size of the battery. The larger the battery, the longer it takes to reach a full charge. A Hybrid vehicle has a smaller battery than a fully electric vehicle and will charge faster.The type of charger also affects the time it takes. If you’re using a Level 1 charger – which is the slowest method and commonly used in homes, be prepared to allow up to 60 hours for a charge. A Level 2 charger can reduce charging time to as little as 4 hours. The fastest method is the DC Fast Charge. While the first two are primarily for charging at home, DC Fast Charging units can be found at supermarkets, coffee shops, shopping centers and other locations. It takes as little as 20 minutes to reach an 80% charge from zero. However, this type of charge slows dramatically once it reaches 80% to protect the battery.The number of charging stations is another crucial part of EV infrastructure. In the U.S., there were just over 64,000 charging stations in 2023, which represents a 20% increase from the prior year. According to Consumer Affairs, California has the most stations (16,358). After that, the numbers decline rapidly. The second largest number is in New York with 3,890 charging stations followed by Florida (3,435), Texas (3,099), and Massachusetts (2,929). Alaska has the fewest (64), followed by North and South Dakota (98), Wyoming (104), and Montana (126). By contrast, there are over 111,000 gas stations in the U.S.

Cost of EVs

The price of an EV is another obstacle. Like most new technologies prices will likely decline in the future. Today, the average purchase price of an EV is around $65,000, compared to an internal combustion auto, which costs about $57,000. Next, the cost to maintain an EV is about the same as an internal combustion vehicle. Finally, an EV loses resale value much faster than a traditional auto. Why? Partly because as technology improves and prices of new EVs decline, the value of a used EV falls with it.These are a few of the major obstacles standing in the way of an all-electric vehicle future. As battery technology continues to improve, as more charging stations are brought online, and as the price of an EV falls, the adoption rate could rise. Will fossil fuels cease to be needed? At this point, it doesn’t appear likely.