Are Electric Vehicles or Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles better?
I started this with an open mind. I was ready to be convinced that EVs are fatally flawed, slow, dirty, dangerous, and the tech is unproven. I took negative arguments in good faith, steel-manned those arguments and dove deep on details. EVs are not problem-free. We need to improve them in serious ways. But the makings of a near-ideal transportation system are there. And in the end, my conviction is strong that Electric Vehicles are better than ICE Vehicles. And they’re getting better.
We must not discount ICEVs. There is opportunity for innovation. They still make up 99% of cars globally, so we should work to make them as amazing as we can. With promising technologies that convert CO₂ in the air to clean fuels, ICEVs can even be part of the solution for our environment.
EVs are cheaper. Some EVs cost more than their in-class ICEV competitors up front, and lower class EVs are not quite cost-competitive yet. However, all classes cost significantly less to drive and maintain. Electric vehicle technology is getting cheaper quickly and we are at the threshold where soon EV will be cheaper across all classes. Electric vehicles are better. And they’re getting better.
EVs perform better. EVs are already more efficient, faster, quicker and generate more torque. Some performance records are still held by ICEVs, but EVs will soon absolutely dominate ICE. And we need major improvements to the fast charge network speed, availability and reliability. Finally, EVs can be improved through software updates and existing cars can get more performant for free. Electric vehicles are better. And they’re getting better.
EVs are safer. EVs are already better across most safety metrics, and have potential to get even safer. There are far fewer engine bay parts to smash into the passengers, they have a lower center of gravity, a stronger structure to fight side impacts, and are less prone to flip. The possibility of battery fires needs to be taken seriously even though gasoline and diesel fires appear more common and deadly. New technologies will make EVs less prone to fire, and fire fighting teams are getting the training they need. Electric vehicles are better. And they’re getting better.
EVs are lower maintenance. Since they have fewer moving parts and fluids, and lower impacts on those parts, it is easier to keep EVs in working order. Although battery packs degrade, they will likely outlast the life of the vehicle. Repair has its own inherent problems, with danger of electrocution and lack of availability of mechanics. More training and support for third party repair shops would be a welcome improvement. Electric vehicles are better. And they’re getting better.
EVs are cleaner. Even if you get your electricity from dirty sources, EVs have fewer emissions and are cleaner. Batteries can be recycled or reused for home or grid storage and stabilization. Battery recycling is not done enough and needs to be scaled up drastically. There are legitimate and disturbing concerns about battery mining practices. The industry needs to fight for better practices and also reduced reliance on these minerals through development of new battery technologies. Finally, carbon capture should be developed to make ICEVs cleaner in parallel. Electric vehicles are better. And they’re getting better.
EVs are cooler. Regenerative braking. Frunks. Extra storage capacity. Idling without using energy. Remote electrical power. Software updateable. Heat and cooling while off or indoors. And the future looks promising. Stabilizing the grid while plugged in so your car makes you money. Supplementary solar. Car-to-car charging. And more. Electric vehicles are better. And they’re getting better.
The future of transport is here. And it’s electric.
Thank you for sticking with this huge deep dive on Why Electric.