If we &# x27; re going to put the brakes on climate change issues, electric cars were critical. At least, that &# x27; s the general consensus: Get the heck out of that Hummer, and into something without an exhaust pipe. At least seven countries plan to ban the sale of cars with internal combustion locomotives sometime in the next few decades, and the specter of losing out on markets like the UK, France, and most of all China( the world &# x27; s biggest car purchaser) has pushed the automobile industry to mobilize.
This week, Ford announced plans to introduce 24 electric or hybrid automobiles by 2022( the committee is also shared vague plans for a model “ve called the” Mach 1, which might be some sort of high performance SUV, to attain that transition from your gas guzzler a little easier .) GM is already all-in on an electric future, along with Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, and Aston Martin.
But you &# x27; ll find more potholes than panaceas on the road to cleanser, greener, future. So, as we charge our batteries for a new style of driving, here are the questions we should be asking.
1. How many gas vehicles can we take off the road ? strong>
The countries that crave forbids on gas burner are huge potential markets for EV sales. If demand for personal autoes stays constant, we can use current marketings figures to estimate how many electric cars we will need.
2. Bring on the batteries . strong>
Toyota and Honda are still trying to build hydrogen gasoline cells happen, so far without much patron concern. So all those new EVs will rely on our present best technology, lithium-ion batteries. Fully electric frameworks will need big ones, hybrids can get by with smaller packs, applying gas locomotives as a backup. Tesla is projecting it &# x27; ll create 35 gigawatt-hours &# x27; worth annually, and is building “the worlds” &# x27; s biggest building, the Gigafactory, in Nevada to do it. But we &# x27; re going to need lane more than that. Autoes will soon enough replace consumer electronics as the chief consumers of batteries, and they &# x27; re going to need a lot more than the things built into your smartphone.
3. What kind of power is accusing those autoes ? strong>
All those batteries are going to need juice, and electric vehicles won &# x27; t do much to combat climate change if that power comes from unclean sources like coal, oil, or( to a lesser extent) natural gas. It gets a little weird here: The benefits of an electric car will also depend on where it &# x27; s charged, because all comes down to the local energy production mix.
Variations in local energy production mean that sometimes EVs are dirtier than regular autoes. If you live in a state that generates electricity from coal( hey, Kansans) your electric car likely won &# x27; t be much kinder to the environment than a gas gulper that get more than 35 miles per gallon of gasoline. In India, your electric car is about as clean as a conventional vehicle that gets 20 mpg, because electricity generation is still dominated by fossil fuels.
4. What are the batteries made of ? strong>
Even if we switch the entire world energy supply to renewables, we &# x27; re going to have to mine much more cobalt, lithium, and other raw ingredients to create all those batteries–and do so sustainably and responsibly. For example, more than 60 percent of the world &# x27; s cobalt–a key ingredient for lithium-ion battery electrodes–comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where human rights abuses are rampant.
Researchers are working on new batteries that require fewer problematic parts, and the countries proposing the bans will ideally follow through with commitments to renewable energy. After all, if we don &# x27; t build the system clean from top to bottom, global warming wins.