When we think of electric vehicles we think of positives. We think about helping the environment, reducing emissions, better fuel economy, and making a difference. However, just like Newton quoted almost 400 years ago, “for every action there is also an equal and opposite reaction”.
Let us look at the darker side of electric vehicles, the side we often overlook.
Although it is true that electric vehicles have better fuel economy than conventional vehicles, as well as zero tailpipe emissions, there are also many downsides to electric vehicles, both environmentally and economically.
Use of electric cars may be environmentally friendly, however the production of electric car batteries is far from clean. With almost 110 pounds of graphite needed per electric car battery, graphite pollution has raised health concerns, as well as polluted both rain and local crops. In response to the pollution associated with graphite production, major processing plants have closed to reduce emissions. China, one of the largest exporters of graphite, has recently been under “unbearable smog” as a result of graphite processing. A push for reducing graphite production has seen the cost of graphite increase over 30% just this year.
If the environmental disadvantages associated with electric vehicles were not enough, electric cars also pose a large economic risk. Although it may be hard to see at first, many states are already imagining a world run solely on electric vehicles, and have reacted accordingly. Recently New Jersey has banned Tesla’s electric vehicles state-wide, something other states have already begun to do as well.
Without an internal combustion system like conventional cars, electric vehicles are basically just large batteries. No spark plugs, fuel pumps, air filters, timing belts. No need to change the oil either (because it doesn’t have any). Essentially Tesla has created an “app on four wheels“, and this is something that both car dealers and repair shops fear. A future full of electric cars means a future without automotive repair. Despite the benefits of not needing to worry about servicing your vehicle, automotive repair plays a significant role in providing jobs, something that is currently in high demand.
So next time you or someone you know is looking at purchasing an electric vehicle, know that to everything good there is also a downside. If you want to hear more about the economic impacts of electric vehicles, Elon Musk describes just how it all works at the Tesla 2013 shareholder meeting.