Though electric cars are certainly an improvement from their gas-guzzling cousins—aka the original automobile, there are still some serious issues being overlooked. For one, there function is being painted as the long-awaited answer to global warming, when electric cars are still very much fueling (pardon the pun) America’s addiction to car ownership. If we hope to move towards a sustainable planet we should move away from personal vehicles and instead consider mobility-as-a-service (aka public transport) to reduce the number of personal vehicles on the road.
Though this move to electric vehicles should nonetheless be celebrated, it shouldn’t distract us from the prevalent issues surrounding climate change—changing all of our cars to electric will certainly help, but it won’t solve the bigger issue at hand. While Biden has promised to increase the number of electric charging stations around the country by half a million to promote electric car ownership, as well as replace around 650,000 government vehicles with electric versions, electric cars should only be seen as a band-aid to the bigger problem of global warming.
How can we reduce car dependency?
The greater question is how can we reduce car dependency, especially in regards to S.U.V.s and pickup trucks. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 2009 and 2019 we saw only a marginal improvement in average fuel efficiency, while we could have actually been able to improve by 4-5% yearly. This being said, vehicles did become cleaner—by about 22%. The question remaining is how are vehicles becoming cleaner but not more fuel efficient? The answer is American’s love of cars. As vehicles started to become more efficient, we started buying more car for our money. To put it in perspective, a decade ago, roughly half of the cars sold were sedans, while one quarter were S.U.V.s. By 2019, the number of sedans sold dropped to only a third of total sales, while the number of small to large S.U.V.s. increased to 50% of total car sales.
To sum it up, environmental benefits received from electric vehicles are essentially removed by American’s shift towards buying bigger cars. Next to this, the oil and gas industry is clearly not in favor of very strict fuel efficiency standards, which would lead people to embracing smaller, electric vehicles. With a new president, it remains unclear what new legislation will be implemented. Regardless, the car industry has invested hundreds of billions of dollars towards the research and development of electric vehicles—it seems they’re committed to an electric future, but are we?
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