Uphill Battle for Electric Cars

With plunging oil prices, it is proving to be more difficult than ever to entice buyers into purchasing an electric vehicle. While the low oil prices may be good for consumers’ gas tanks, the transportation sector continues to account for 27 percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The question then arises of how electric car manufacturers can steer folks back toward electric vehicles and away from gas-guzzling cars?

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Impact of falling oil prices

“It definitely makes the transition to sustainable energy more difficult,” said Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, at a business conference in Hong Kong about the impact of the free-falling oil prices.

Tesla rose to prominence in 2003 when oil prices soared, making electric vehicles all the more tempting. With oil prices continually on the decline, it’s now up to companies like Tesla to compel buyers and stress the importance of transitioning toward cleaner vehicles.

New features for electric cars

For companies like Tesla, that means developing things like autonomous cars with “summon” features – allowing the user to call their car just like a pet. Even aesthetic aspects have become more important, with Tesla focusing on futuristic designs.

“What we’re aspiring to do is to make the cars so compelling that even with lower gas prices, it’s still the car you want to buy,” Musk said.

But Tesla is not alone in promoting electric vehicles to the public.

The electric car race

Apple is currently working on an electric car with the potential to hit the market by 2019, while Google is heading in another direction by developing novel technologies for electric vehicles and selling them to manufacturers.

However, there’s still some disagreement among researchers as to what technology will provide the most efficient electric vehicle.

Emerging technologies

For some, battery is the answer. While the rechargeable lithium-ion is a popular choice, other researchers are headed in a different direction. ECS members, for example, are working on developing lithium-air batteries for electric vehicles that could provide affordable, efficient energy storage.

Other researchers are looking toward fuel cells for the next big breakthrough in transportation. Toyota has been pushing toward making a highly-functional fuel cell car through fellowships devoted to green energy technologies and the release of Mirai – the “ultimate green car.”

However, with oil prices falling and mainstream rhetoric glossing over serious issues of climate change, it appears that the battle to make electric vehicles a popular commodity will be difficult.


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