INTRO – Electric Cars
Electric cars are automobile-class transportation vehicles powered by batteries that need to be recharged periodically using a charging station connected to an electric power source. This definition is familiar to most of us because it is the same way we charge our phones, computers and other electrical devices. Electric cars, like the average automatic transmission car, work with the ignition, accelerating with the accelerator and stopping with the brake. The main difference from a gasoline car is the design of its engine.
Most electric vehicles use a lithium-ion battery with a relatively simple design. The engine of a similar internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle has about 2,000 parts, while an EV engine has only 20 moving parts.
An all-electric car doesn’t require petrol or diesel, and it doesn’t require gears to drive at higher or lower speeds. Instead, pressing the accelerator pedal powers the engine from an electric battery. The motor turns the wheels from the drive shafts.
Depending on the manufacturing technology, when you brake your electric car, the energy generated in the engine can power the battery back, helping it hold the electric charge longer. There are a few key differences between electric cars and fossil fuel-powered vehicles. In this context, electric cars;
- They are quieter
- They can accelerate with higher acceleration without shifting,
- While the charging range is affected by weather conditions; Extremely hot or cold weather can drain the charge faster than warm weather.
What are the Types of Electric Cars?
There are four main types of cars that use some form of electrical power. Some involve both electric and gasoline power in the same vehicle.
- All-electric vehicle (EV):
It is fully powered by an electric motor which must be plugged into a charging station to charge the electric motor,
- Plug-in hybrid (PHEV):
It includes both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor which also need to be plugged into a charging station to charge the electric motor.
- Self-charging hybrid (HEV):
It includes both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor which charges the electric motor with the internal combustion engine.
- Mild Hybrid (MHEV):
It includes both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor which also charges the electric motor with the internal combustion engine. The difference between HEV and MHEV, in MHEVs the electric motor is not powerful enough to drive the vehicle, but it contributes to reducing gasoline consumption.
Electric Cars and Sustainable Transportation
In our previous articles, we have stated that Sustainability has Environmental, Economic and Social dimensions. In order to evaluate electric vehicles within the scope of sustainable transportation, first of all, these concepts should be well understood.
If your expectation from sustainable transportation is to solve the traffic problem due to the decrease in the number of cars in the traffic, electric cars will not have a direct positive effect on this issue at least. On the contrary, the thought that the negative impact on the environment is less than that of fossil fuel vehicles and that the fuel cost will decrease, may adversely affect the traffic in one way by encouraging the fossil fuel users who do not go to the traffic with these reservations. Based on these considerations, it is predicted that the relevance of electric cars to sustainable transportation is mainly in environmental and economic dimensions.
Are electric cars really environmentally friendly?
First of all, it should be noted that we will talk about fully electric cars in this article. Environmentalist emphasis is at the forefront of the marketing strategies of electric cars, whose presence we have felt in traffic lately; Green-weighted backgrounds, leaf images, and emphasis on transformation are the most important indicators of this.
The biggest benefit of electric cars is the contribution they can make to improving air quality in towns and cities. All-electric cars without exhaust pipes do not produce carbon dioxide or other harmful emissions while driving. This significantly reduces air pollution. When the carbon dioxide emissions of an average vehicle on a 1000-kilometer journey are examined; Gasoline vehicles cause 0.41 tons, Diesel vehicles 0.28 tons, Electric vehicles cause 0.16 tons of CO2 emissions. You can also approximately determine the carbon dioxide emissions of your vehicle on this page and compare it with alternative fuel types.
The main factor of CO2 emission in electric vehicles is the production source of the energy consumed in the vehicle. Again on the same page, you can observe the amount of emissions according to different countries and production method. The carbon dioxide emissions of vehicles, which provide electrical energy mainly from plants with high CO2 emissions, such as coal power plants, will also be higher than the energy provided by relatively more environmentally friendly power generation plants. In summary; As long as electrical energy is produced in facilities that cause more damage to the environment, it will not be possible for electric vehicles to fully fulfill the “Environmental Sustainability” mission. On the other hand, as the negative environmental impacts of electric power generation are reduced, the negative impact of electric vehicles on the environment will be reduced to lower levels.
But to talk about electric cars as a truly emission-free mode of transport, electricity grids first need to be much, much cleaner.
Environmental impact of electric car production
Emissions during the production of an electric car tend to be higher than a conventional car. This is due to the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, which are an essential part of an electric car. More than a third of an electric car’s lifetime CO2 emissions come from the energy used to build the car itself. Of course, as battery and production technology progress, it is possible to say that this situation has changed positively, as in electricity generation.
Although it is known that the production of electric cars consumes much more energy than the production of conventional fossil fuel vehicles, it is still seen as a more environmentally friendly option due to the reduction in emissions during its lifetime.
Battery Production for Electric Vehicles
Like many other batteries, the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries that power most electric vehicles has been linked to serious environmental and human rights concerns; Raw materials such as Cobalt, Lithium and rare earth elements are used. The fact that these raw material resources are limited and more difficult to access than petroleum in general brings along sustainability concerns. In other words, although it is thought that it will contribute to the environmental sustainability of transportation, the sustainability concern for the long-term production and use of electric vehicles has not been completely overcome. In addition, due to the chemically harmful effects of these raw materials, it would be meaningful to examine environmental sustainability except for CO2 emissions and evaluate the results from this perspective.
As a result, it is possible to say that electric cars are a positive and effective step to ensure sustainability in transportation. With this; It is predicted that it will become an even more effective tool with the technological developments in electric energy and electric car production. However, despite all this; Issues such as both the production of electric vehicles and the energy to be produced for electric vehicles and the transportation of this energy should also be evaluated in terms of other environmental effects that will arise in the process from raw material and raw material supply to energy storage.