Electric cars are great!
- They remove air pollution from the point of delivery.
- They are much quieter.
- They don’t require hazardous fuels to be brought into congested cities and sold from unsightly filling stations.
- They are also much easier to maintain.
But we also need to be very realistic about the problems electric cars don’t solve, the problems they do solve, and perhaps also – the new problems they can create.
11 Problems electric cars don’t solve
Let’s do the problems they don’t solve:
- Congestion – by far the most important point. Electric cars don’t, and won’t solve congestion.
- Parking – electric cars still need to be parked. Self-driving cars might reduce this problem – in the long run, but merely changing the fuel supply doesn’t.
- Crashes – electric cars per se aren’t going to crash any more or less than their ICE equivalents. Again, self driving cars almost certainly will be much safer – but stage 5 version (ie full self driving mode) are still many years away.
- Weight – electric cars are heavier, because they need a big enough battery to avoid “range anxiety”.
- Cost – electric cars can only exist through an extensive mesh of tax breaks.
- Social equity – as long as electric cars are provided on the basis of replacing current ownership models like for like, they do nothing to address transport inequalities.
- Sedentary lifestyles – electric cars might make it easier to breather, but they won’t directly help people to get more active. Yes – an electric car will get you to the gym, as will a petrol car. But the vast subsidies that are going into their production could be much better spent on measures to enable more active travel (ie cycle lanes, low traffic neighbourhoods etc).
- The toxicity of manufacture – electric cars might wean us off the oil needed to run a petrol car, but they still need huge amounts of embodied energy for their manufacture.
- Charging – electric cars still need to be charged, and this still means electricity needs to be produced. This is never “carbon free” as is often claimed, even if some methods of producting electricity are much less carbon intensive than others.
- Walking and cycling – both are orders of magnitude more efficient for short local trips, ie for the sort of trips cars are used for most of the time. Diverting so much attention into electric cars means councils are often completely failing to cater for a much more pressing need – ie they are installing charge points but forgetting to make the streets they are installed in safe first. Worse still, charge points are taking space away from pedestrians.
And the new problems? Well that’s for another post.