Beth Kelly's picture

What Do We Need for Cleaner Cars?

Today, a number of companies are planning or already producing high-performing vehicles that run on electricity and other alternative fuels. Now more than ever before, auto manufacturers are competing to answer the call for environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels. Electric cars are, perhaps, the “ideal”, but most models to date have been hybrids that also rely on petroleum as part of their energy mix.

Major Names in Clean Energy Cars

The electric car market opened up with the Toyota Prius, a hybrid model that saves gas but has been called “underpowered” in recent years. Today Tesla has been making waves most notably, planning to produce 300,000 vehicles per year by 2020 and make a profit doing so. But beyond Tesla, other large companies are entering into the game. In terms of the wholesale EV market, BMW actually outsold Tesla in 2014. General Motors is also entering the market with an all-electric Chevrolet model that boasts impressive mileage. Now, consumers are awaiting a revolutionary hydrogen car from Toyota, which, according to initial reports, will only emit water vapor after taking energy from hydrogen fuel cells. Prototype vehicles in this category are slated to surpass most “clean” energy cars currently on the market, which have been considered appropriate only for urban driving because of their unimpressive mileage.

Oil Prices and Electrical Efficiency

As more consumers consider switching over to electric vehicles, questions about the efficiency of this technology has arisen regarding cost and environmental impact. In recent years, oil prices have fallen because of increased use of fracking. Some consumers who are still cautious after the global recession may avoid buying electric cars if they can power their vehicles for less money using gasoline. For all of their environmental benefits, electric cars still commonly have expensive batteries and a lack of power. Despite being marketed by companies like Tesla as more cost efficient and the wide variety of information allowing prospective buyers to compare offers, electric cars remain more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts.

Battery Technology and Alternative Fuel Cars

Studies that have analyzed the cleanliness of electric vehicles have raised concerns about their impact on the environment. In fact, the process used to make electric car batteries may partially negate their environmental friendliness by directly causing pollution. Still, researchers have noted that the pollution associated with electric cars is far lower than what is associated with gasoline-powered vehicles. To serve the environment and maximize their value in the market, electric car makers must devise new ways to produce and dispose of the batteries.

The New Electric Vehicle Makers

Tesla is the best known electric car manufacturer, but tech giants Apple and Google are preparing to enter the market with their own designs. Apple recently offered huge bonuses to engineers willing to abandon Tesla to work on its own electric vehicle projects. Apple plans to release its first electric vehicle by 2020, and industry spectators expect its product to offer classic Apple aesthetics and the ability to interface with Apple devices, such as the iPhone and iPad.

Google is also planning to release an electric car by 2020. With a focus on self-driving cars, Google has already tested its designs on 700,000 miles of roadways. If this technology makes it to market as projected, consumers will be able to play games or watch television en route to their destinations without having to concentrate on the road or resort to public transportation.

The Future of Electric Cars

Electric cars have come a long way since the hybrid Toyota Prius arrived, but manufacturers still have some work to do. But with recent innovations surrounding natural gas hybrids, self-driving cars, and cleaner battery designs, the next generation of electric cars is bound to transform the market. If prices continue to fall, it may not be long before EV’s are produced at a large enough scale to open the road for the average consumer.


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Comments

Nice article Beth but a bit misleading. Insideev.com shows the first quarter sales figures for all the BEV,& PHEV. Its is true that Toyota pirus (all models) out sells many cars the Tesla included. When looking at plug in sales only the Tesla Model S out sold the PIP almost 4 to 1. It always shocks me to see the $100,000 car that few can afford out sell plug ins that are half to a third the price.

Am I the only one that read this headline and immediately thought, "a line of credit with Adam's Polishes"?