The internal combustion engine has been with us for more than a century, but it looks like this tired, old workhorse is almost ready to be put out to pasture. The urgency of climate change and growing popularity of “alternative” modes of transit, such as battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs), means that there is little place for traditional gasoline-guzzling automobiles in the future. EVs are more environmentally-friendly than their fossil-fueled counterparts as well as more cost-effective long-term.
In order to accelerate the adoption of electric cars, Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association will be running a National Drive Electric Week from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20. This annual occasion aims to showcase the economic and ecological advantages of EVs. Beginning as a single-day event in 2011 called National Plug In Day, the event has grown in participation over the years and been extended to a full week.
In 2014, more than 90,000 people took part in National Drive Electric Week. Events were held in 150 cities located in 39 states. There were even a few events in Italy, Canada and The Netherlands. Organizers arranged parades of EVs, test drives allowing passersby to try out an electric vehicle, awards ceremonies and many other types of activities. In most cases, the events are arranged locally by volunteers and EV owners. Last year, many mayors around the country proclaimed National Drive Electric Week in their cities and towns, giving it the imprimatur of official recognition.
Those who are curious about attending will undoubtedly be wondering what electric vehicles have to offer.
- For starters, it’s usually much cheaper to charge up an EV than to fill up the gas tank of a regular car. Because they employ batteries rather than internal combustion to generate power, they don’t create any emissions while running. Of course, however, EVs must be charged through the existing electrical infrastructure, which does indeed create pollution. In almost every case, though, the carbon and other emissions released in generating the electricity required to propel a vehicle are much less than those emitted by an old-school car.
- EVs also contain fewer moving parts than most cars, reducing maintenance and repair costs considerably.
Detractors claim that electric vehicles don’t have enough range and take too long to charge. However, most models on the market today can travel 70 miles or more on a single charge, more than enough for everyday use. They can be charged at night, so the owners don’t need to sit around and babysit the car. Only for longer trips might the range of an EV be inadequate, and even in this case, it’s usually possible to complete a long journey successfully by planning ahead and stopping mid-trip to use public charging infrastructure.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen renewable energy as a whole shift from being the domain of eco-activists to becoming part of the mainstream energy discussion. Electric vehicles are an important component of the present-day global environmental consciousness. As energy providers implement smart grid technology to deliver efficiencies throughout the supply chain along with solar, wind and other types of clean energy production, electric vehicles will become even cheaper to operate and even more Earth-friendly.
Viewed from a certain angle, burning scarce fuel resources to create tiny explosions, which generate kinetic energy to make wheels turn, seems steampunkish, Rube Goldberg-esque and almost comical. Now that EVs have progressed to the point that they’re a viable, clean, economically sound alternative to this antiquated way of doing things, it’s time to begin switching over in earnest. National Drive Electric Week is thus trying to bring the future into the present by highlighting the many benefits of exchanging your old, gas-powered car for one that uses existing, electrical technology.