In recent years, the automobile industry has been pushing the electric car technology, presenting it as an urban mobility solution for climate change, decreasing noxious emission levels and the greenhouse effect. In fact, in theoretical conditions, an electric car would help boost a better and healthier world but, is it enough? Can humanity and the current market adapt to this change?
From an environmental perspective, it seems like a proper solution with a logical marketing perspective: I use the car to commute, it does not contaminate and it initially uses a carbon-free technology. On the other hand, if we take a deeper look into the theme, there are some concerns that need to be addressed.
A car, regardless of its power source, like every product, has its own carbon footprint which has to be taken into consideration along with the emissions during its use. In fact, some recent studies show that the implementation of a massive switch to electric car technologies would not result in a drastic change in the level of emissions due to the sourcing of electrical energy (for example, coal). Besides this, there are other challenging issues such as waste generation, resource consumption, batter manufacturing and recycling that must be taken into consideration as well.
Despite that, there is no doubt that, with the enforcement of suitable public and private policies, it can be a tremendous tool to face the global warming problem. It must be seen as a challenging opportunity and not as a threat.
The role of electric cars in urban mobility
When it comes to urban mobility, a technological switch in car engines is not a big deal. The notion still remains in the same mobility conceptual scheme from the 50’s that brought us to the present situation.
The transport externalities are actually reduced in terms of air pollution (up to 50 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) emission level by 2050) , noise (silent) and urban health (zero noxious gases). However, when we consider combined efficient mobility solutions which include electric technologies and e-car, human-scale city planning and sustainable mobility modes, they seem to tackle a wide range of problems such as: land use, congestion, urban segregation, social inequity, urban sprawling, road safety, food deserts, mental health and sustainable mobility in general.
Also, this global solution fits better in the sustainable virtuous chain: Reduce, reuse and recycle and, if it is not possible to finish the process with the three previous concepts, optimize the non-renewable resources so as to diminish its impact for future generations.
To sum things up, the technological evolution will not solve the problem by itself. But, planning our cities, understanding its motives (citizens and their quality of life) and reshaping it with global decided initiatives will guide us to a feasible sustainable future. We might find that the collective prevails over the individual for the sake of every one of us rather than the profits of a bunch of companies.
Do you think electric vehicles are important to the development of sustainable cities? If yes or no, tell us your reasons in the comment section.
Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.