Environment & Electric Transport

Nowadays we are figuratively bombarded by thousands of adverts praising the benefits for the environment of hybrid or fully electric vehicles. Having this in mind, it might seem paradoxical to remind that vehicles equipped with an electric motor were created much before cars with an internal combustion engine. By the end of the XIX century the production of electric vehicles had been long established in Europe and the United States and reached several thousands of units, several times higher than the number of gasoline vehicles. In the first decades of the XX century, there were the cars with internal combustion engines and electric vehicles in the streets of major cities. Despite the indisputable advantages electric vehicles had in an urban environment, their ratio slowly but surely decreased. In 1920, their number was reduced to 1% (Gelmanova et al, 2018).

The electric car market is still small, partly because it is widely perceived as a luxury niche, and not just another means of transportation.

However, car manufactures and marketing companies are putting the accent on the advantages of the electric vehicle in tune with environmental friendliness and the absence of emissions. This approach goes hand in hand with the progressive improvement of the main limitations to the popularisation of electric vehicles such as reduction of costs, extension of battery life, greater autonomy or the expansion of the network of charging stations.

Electricity supplied for charging electric vehicles can be obtained at traditional power plants (e.g., gas, coal, nuclear) or from renewable energy sources (via solar, hydro or wind power). However, the main message conveyed to the potential user is that only clean sources of energy will be the ones charging the batteries of her or his car. On the other hand, superior energetic efficiency is also claimed as a winning factor on the market. But even from a pragmatic point of view, it is difficult to believe that the public will be more attracted in the near future by the argument of mechanical performance than by those of fun and status.