electric cars a good solution to oil consumption in the United States?
McKibben and Electric cars
Alternate Vehicle (AV)
Are electric cars a good solution to oil consumption in the United States?
Electric cars are the contemporary technology that auto-industry has come up with in order to mitigate higher carbon emissions and pollution issues. It is estimated by researchers and practitioners alike that electric cars will play an important role in restricting the use of imported oil in the U.S. The hybrid and plug-in-hybrid cars can significantly reduce the dependence of vehicles on oil. Since oil production has been even riskier in recent months due to some incidents of spillover at deep sea, the new technology of electric cars is being heavily invested in by the auto makers.
Thesis Statement: With current emphasis on reducing oil dependence of the U.S. And reducing the vehicle-generated emissions, the role of electric cars and other alternative fuels for vehicles have gained much importance. Both from an ecological and efficiency related perspective, it is contended that the use of electric cars is an appropriate solution to reduce oil consumption in the U.S.
Battery electric vehicle and the thermal hybrid electric are the two contemporary electric car technologies that auto makers are starting to project. In this paper, analysis will be conducted to support the aforementioned thesis statement. There are several limitations to the use of electric cars before they become a significant source of reduction in oil consumption. These will also be discussed in the paper. The perspective of Bill McKibben will also be presented to highlight the importance of electric cars in reducing dependence on oil by the U.S.
It is estimated that global energy consumption during next 15 to twenty years will dramatically increase and estimated increase is 54% of the current level of consumption (Phyllis Cuttino). Vehicles are the single largest source that will contribute in this increase. U.S. has faced many risks in exploring new deep sea wells and production of oil from these wells. The U.S. economy has to bear approximately $1 billion daily for the purchase of imported oil (Phyllis Cuttino).
The fuel costs of individual car users and private businesses have increased manifold during the last few years. The surge in oil prices have led to this increment. In 2011, the estimated cost of oil that transportation sector use was more than 70% of the total U.S. oil consumption and during 2011; the U.S. spent more than $300 billion on oil imports (Parks, Denholm, and Markel, p. 1). Thus, it is pertinent to view electric cars as an alternative to fuel consuming cars. Although complete dependence on oil in the vehicles will not be eliminated but reduced significantly if the technology is promoted widely across the U.S. By all the auto makers.
Plug-in-cars that carry an additional electricity powered battery are increasing in number of sales made and the result is that people are buying these cars. The option of always filling up the tank with gasoline allows the customers to travel on electricity within cities as these cars allow the driver to travel forty to fifty miles on electric power alone (McKibben, 68).
A senior fellow at Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) named Michael Levi also reported that changing the fuel mix of transport sector can significantly reduce the dependence on imported oil. The use of hybrid and plug-in-hybrid cars was seen as appropriate for making a good start in altering the fuel mix of transport sector (Levi, Perl, Weiss & Johnson). There are also plans in Canada regarding the use of electric rails to reduce dependence on oil. However, this greatly depends on the capacity of government of the U.S. And Canada to introduce the infrastructural changes and incentives to the auto makers for investing heavily in the electric and hybrid car segment. It is also important to preserve the ecological balance as mentioned by Steingraber that "what fascinated me most were the elegant black and white diagrams representing ecological food chains" (Steingraber, 930).
The facts are also supportive of the new technology as International Energy Agency (IEA) also outlined a significant cut in oil consumption of the U.S. during the period 2007 to 2030. It was estimates that 29% reduction in oil consumption would be made through the introduction of several changes, considerable among these changes was the plan to introduce hybrid and electric cars. As noted by McKibben, "Driven by ever-more-dire scientific reports, Congress has, for the first time, begun debating ambitious targets for carbon reduction" (McKibben). The role of cars in carbon emissions is significant. Despite improvement in fuel efficiency and carbon emissions reduction, there are significant economic cost to the widespread use of oil in cars as a fuel.
McKibben and Electric cars
McKibben has been favoring the use of electric cars since long and the impact of global warming has led increased level of support from all quarters. Drivers have begun using the electric cars in achieving greater mileage and McKibben observed this while stating that 'Almost from the day the first hybrids came off the boat from Japan, drivers have found themselves pushing to get the maximum mileage' (McKibben).
The emphasis of key researchers on the use electric cars is also encouraged by reduction in emissions (Shinnar, 455). Electric cars reduce the net level of emissions generated by the vehicles. There are many benefits attributed to the storage of electricity in batteries. The vision to build a hydrogen transport economy, the auto makers is now encouraged to increase production of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles (Mierlo & Maggetto, 166).
Alternate Vehicle (AV)
The use of alternate fuel vehicles is on rise and several countries have started encouraging these Alternate Vehicle (AV) manufacturing. China, Japan, and Korea are specifically using the electric cars to contain the fuel use in their transportation industry. The EV technology is also amongst the latest in auto industry and the U.S. is expected to raise investments in this industry. Although, the importance of private capital in making the industry grows but the role of government in encouraging the industry is also vital (Sovacool, Benjamin and Hirsh, 1096).
Governments should encourage the use of electric vehicles by providing incentives to the drivers. Provision of credits is also a method to encourage the use of electric vehicles. Alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit and credit for heavy duty trucks and hybrid medium cars are also some of the steps that government can take in order to encourage investments in the industry (Cuttino). Electric cars have social as well as cost related benefits over traditional cars; the electric vehicles (EV) have been provided with incentives in France as well (Funk and Rabl, 397).
The increasing energy need of the U.S. transportation sector will also compel the government and the private sector to increase commitment in the AV sector. The sector will also support the investment and job market of the U.S. This will provide an additional advantage to the ailing economy. Although the initial cost of these electric cars is more than the traditional cars but the overall cost of fuel decreases as the number of car use increases.
In American Earth, it is observed that 'No more cars in National Parks. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs, anything but keep the automobiles and motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out" (Abbey, 427). Thus, the need for decreased use of vehicles and those too with electric charging capacity is increasing. The fossil fuel run car is not only expensive for an average American but also for the economy overall.
The efficiency of cars is also increased through the use of electric batteries as the cars have advanced combustion and electric motor capabilities (Wirth, Gray and Podesta, 133). The use electric and hybrid models of cars will also alter the way that people travel as it needs frequent refilling. Therefore, more conservation of stored electricity will be the outcome of the use of these vehicles.
"Americans have increasingly taken to eating organic food, it's the fastest section of the supermarket. Some of this trend has to do with taste and freshness but more involve dears over the effect of chemicals on our bodies" (Steingraber, 929). It is evident that traditional fuel-based car are also a major source of spreading toxic materials in form of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the environment (Hacker, et al., 56).
The role of electric cars in reducing the amount of oil consumption is significant that the technology helps the users to become more conscious of their use of vehicles as a means of transportation. Wirasingha, Schofield, and Emadi (p. 3) mentioned that the use of electricity in cars can also be supported through electricity transmission to cars through grids and dedicated stations can provide facilities to reduce the consumption oil. Since oil has more efficiently used in power plants than in motorized vehicles, it is appropriate to run these vehicles from electricity generated through the national…