• The DaVinci

Are Electric Cars Really Worth It?

V. Tillman 02.24.20 (CHARLOTTESVILLE, DAVINCI) - As people become increasingly aware of the climate crisis, advancements in green technology have sprung onto the consumer market. These include increasingly popular electric and hybrid cars. Supporters and skeptics disagree about whether the vehicles are economical. Initially, they seem expensive, inconvenient to charge, and not significantly beneficial to carbon emission reduction. However, studies show that electric and hybrid cars are a worthy investment.


Critics argue that green cars are not more environmentally friendly than traditional vehicles. The manufacturing process of green car batteries emits high levels of greenhouse gases, and if the charging station used to recharge the car receives electricity from a carbon-fuel source, then the car would  indirectly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. However, a study conducted by the International Council of Clean Transportation, shows that electric cars in Europe produce 30% less emissions than fuel-powered cars over their lifetimes. In clean energy based countries, such as Norway, electric cars produce a third of the greenhouse gas emissions that traditional cars do. The study also concludes that, after two years of use, the carbon “debt” created during battery production is repaid because of fewer fuel-related emissions. If a car is powered with clean energy sources, it takes six months to pay off its carbon debt. As battery production grows increasingly more efficient and clean power sources become more widespread, electric car emissions will decrease. 


Still, critics and skeptics acknowledge the low driving range of electric cars. Most electric cars travel 200 miles on a full charge, Consumer Reports states, compared to traditional cars’ 350-400 mile range. Charging stations in the U.S. are also limited, but have become increasingly available over time. Regardless, for those who enjoy roadtripping, owning a single fully-electric car isn’t wise. Alternatively, there are hybrids to consider, whose ranges are 400-550 miles.

Finally, the expense of green cars often deters people. On average, they are more expensive upfront than traditional vehicles. In the U.S., however, there are federal tax credits of $2,500-7,500 to incentivise the purchase of electric vehicles. In addition, according to the U.S. office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the price of an eGallon (the electric counterpart to fuel) is nearly half that of a gallon of gas. Thus, while electric cars are expensive, the lower recharging prices mean owners eventually break even on cost over the duration of the vehicle’s lifetime. 


Buying green vehicles is a way for individuals to help better the global environment. However, unnecessary purchases or over purchasing of green vehicles counteracts all the good that they can do. Don’t buy an electric car if you already own a perfectly good (or new) gas-powered car. Wait until you need a car before spontaneously purchasing one. The same goes for newly released green car models--if you have a perfectly good electric or hybrid car, don’t buy another for materialistic purposes. In the end, purchasing cars that you don’t need, green or no, can  harm the environment too. 



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