Is the Future of Automotive Electric?

The Concept One car by Rimac

Contrary to popular belief, electric cars have been occurring in automotive innovation for well over 100 years. The first practical electric car was created in 1880 and was popular amongst the upper echelons of US societies as taxis in big cities. However, with low top speeds, high costs and short ranges, they fell short when advances in the creation of internal combustion engine vehicles became cheaper to mass produce.

Fast-forward a few years to 2008 and Tesla releases their first production car. Their 2008 Roadster was the first road-legal, all-electric sports car that could travel 200 miles on a single charge. A year later, in 2009, Rimac was founded. A Croatian company, dedicated to making the ‘worlds best electric super car’ – The Concept One (pictured above). When released in 2013 it smashed the worlds fastest acceleration                                                record hitting 0-60 in 2.8 seconds. Quite the difference from their forefathers!

Now we’re nearing the end of 2017 and manufacturers cannot produce hybrid or fully electric cars quick enough. The amount of new Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs) registered in the UK has increased by a whopping 1,890% since 2011, from 2,100 to 41,800 at the end of 2016. Whilst this is a highly impressive number for technology so young, these cars make up less than 0.2% of the 31.7 million cars registered on the roads in Britain. Mildly concerning as the UK Government is wanting to halt the production of all petrol and diesel cars by 2040, for a carbon free 2050. That’s a huge amount of cars headed for the scrap heap in the not too distant future.

Tesla Roadster
A Tesla Roadster on public display at a Japan-based showroom.

So is our future battery powered?

The Green Machine

As petrols heads, we know the days of our meaty V12 engines are numbered. Those beautiful pops and crackles from an AMG exhaust are likely to be replaced with either the subtle fizz of an electric power train or a manufactured sound reminiscent of a Forza video game played through the cars speakers. Whilst we know something has to change, with our planets Fauna and Flora all suffering as the result of increased carbon emissions, it’s hard to imagine our now noisy world falling into silence.

But are these plug-in hybrids and electric battery powered cars really the way forward and are they actually as green at they claim? Firstly, the electricity used to charge your car is only as green as the grid it comes from. Unless your energy supplier uses wind farms, solar power or hydropower, it’s still likely to be burning fossil fuels to charge your green machine. Then there’s the manufacturing process. Mining rare metals involves mass destruction to wild life, including explosives, acid baths and harmful chemicals. Add in the production plants and global shipping and your carbon footprint is already racking up a huge bill.

Now this is not to say that they aren’t more eco-friendly. Whilst the environmental impact of creating an electric car is greater than petrol or diesel, a ‘cradle to grave’ analysis by Renault concluded that over an electric cars lifetime it is more than made up for by the lack of emissions produced. Although the marketing campaigns of ‘zero emissions’ may be a large stretch of the actual truth.

The General Consensus

In our hearts, car enthusiasts are probably not ready to say goodbye to that addictive roar on a cold start, that thick smell of petrol at a motorsport event or the inevitable revving competition with your neighbour at a car show. But we are ever hopeful. Formula 1 already runs on hybrid 1.6 litre engines which more than get the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. Our ‘Holy Trinity’, the McLaren P1, Ferrari La Ferrari and Porsche 918 Spyder are all hybrids and 3 of the most sought after hypercars in the world right now. So perhaps we can come to a compromise? When our infrastructure develops enough to permit battery swapping stations over petrol stations and fast charging points in smart car parks and hotels, the switch wouldn’t be so hard. We could go for a hybrid car, so long as we can still wind our windows down and get the thrills and chills tunnels and epic roads have always provided us with.

At the very least the shake up electric is creating in the automotive industry is exciting in it’s drive of innovation. Who knows what cars will look like in the next few years, we seem to be seeing revolutionary developments every quarter. After all nobody likes the idea of change, but we often love what it brings about, we wouldn’t be trading in our iPhones for Nokia 3310s no matter how much we said touchscreens wouldn’t catch on. Saying that, the battery life was amazing. How ironic.

You Got The Power

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