While it is certain that this big change, like many others, will be slow, raising awareness of the public is one of the ways to expedite the eluding ideal of truly eco-friendly transport.
The usefulness of the existing electrical and hybrid vehicles in terms of reducing harmful emissions is, however, still a matter of debate.
The term âelectric carâ is a variant of an electric vehicle and is usually used when referring to battery electric vehicles. This implies that a car has a battery that needs to be charged from time to time.
A hybrid vehicle is a âvehicle that uses two or more distinct power sources to move the vehicle and most commonly refers to hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which combine an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motorsâ
Myths and Facts
Although most people believe that using electric cars or hybrids automatically brings a huge reduction in harmful gas emissions, this is not necessarily the case.
Although you donât see the pollution gushing out of the tailpipe, production and transport of electricity that powers the cars cannot in any way, for the most part, be called âcleanâ. Moreover, the same goes for production and transport of batteries that store that energy.
Harmful emissions from production of electricity depend on its sources. The exact percentage of the reduction of pollutants emissions cannot be easily calculated, as it varies greatly depending on the type of fuel mix, car engine efficiency and the type of fuel used for production of electricity.
Basically, this means that most of the electricity produced at night is not used, while it canât be stored neither. Ideally, car batteries should be charged at night, so as not to additionally burden the electric grid and cause an increase in emissions from electricity production. However, this requires a certain discipline that simply cannot be enforced in any way.
In addition, every battery has a limited range and it is not always possible to calculate when one will require a recharge, which is an inconvenience, to put it mildly.
All this sheds a new light on the use of electric and hybrid cars as they are. Although undoubtedly a step in the right direction, the existing technological solutions are still far from perfect. That being said, huge advances made daily in this field are sure to bring a more reliable, simpler to use and cleaner cars in the near future.
Toyota Prius has, for some reason, come to embody the ideal of an eco-friendly car, especially in the USA. That is why it gets a special place in this article, as the writer of these lines also fell prey to the trend and became a proud owner of a yellow Prius. In my humble laywoman opinion, it is not an accident that Toyota sold more than a million Priuses in the past few years.
It is reasonably comfortable, very reliable and, dare I say, very smart in more ways than one. It reaches 60 mph in ten second. Some believe that a car that doesnât accelerate to 60 mph in about seven seconds or less is not safe enough if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, but the acceleration is not a problem for me.
However, there are certain imperfections that come to light in some situations, especially the feel of the gas pedal and the brake, which sometimes appear moody, like they have a mind of their own. However, although it is still far from perfect, I am proud to be driving a Prius and I donât suspect that to change any time soon, despite all of its faults. I firmly believe that it represents the future of human transportation a I wish to do my part in rushing its full-scale arrival.
Mary Ann Keeling is an ecologist who loves to live and travel green, and make less impact on the environment.
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