Electric cars ‘don’t fit the profile of Americans’

Marcus Berggren/ Contributing Writer

The electric car first saw the light of day in the 1880’s and became popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. Fast forward to 2017 and it seems as if it’s a completely new phenomenon.

In Europe, the market for electric cars is significantly well-established compared to here in the U.S. Even though Americans can pride themselves with an in-house innovator —Tesla — the obsession with cars that completely disregard the environment remains.

If you stroll around the FIU parking lots you might spot the occasional Tesla or e-Golf, but for the most part “eco-friendly” doesn’t seem to be a requirement for students when they purchase a new car. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a strong advocate of electric cars. In fact, I would label myself as somewhat of a cynic. The reason is not because I hate the environment, but there is an abundance of “alternative facts” surrounding the electric car. It’s also too flawed to be a viable option for mass transport any time soon.

My biggest issue with the electric car isn’t the concept itself. Instead, it’s with the people associated with it — the ones who seem to think that batteries grow on trees; that is not the case.

The electric car has thrown technology zealots into the diverse world of automobiles. One month ago, I moved here from Sweden, which is the third most eco-friendly country in the world per the Environmental Performance Index and gas is about four times as expensive compared to Miami. What I have quickly realized is that urban sprawl requires everyone to have a car, and in typical American fashion, they’re the size of regional airports. The environment isn’t second nature to Americans like it is to northern Europeans.

The reason for the electric car not having become as trendy in the U.S. is because it doesn’t fit the profile of most Americans. That must change.

FIU is part of a demographic which many manufacturers are interested in; they all want to decrease the average age of car buyers but out of the 50 or so students I asked, not a single one was interested in electric cars as a concept. Granted, many mentioned Tesla.

Since FIU has 54,000 students this is by no means a representative figure, but a recurring factor was how little everyone knew about electric cars. Comments such as “they’re all ugly” and “they’re so slow” led me to believe that the manufacturers are extremely bad at marketing and should head straight for the Ryder building. The thought that all electric cars are ugly is subjective; however, the fact that most electric cars are quick is objective. The Tesla Model S P100D does 0 to 62 miles per hour in 2.4 seconds for instance.

Although, what a lot of students knew was that electric cars aren’t as environmentally friendly as they might be portrayed.

The most  environmentally friendly car, which one can buy today, is the BMW i3 which has a lot to do with the production process. BMW’s factory in Leipzig, where the i3 is built, runs on self-generated wind power, the grass is cut using sheep and a lot of the i3 is made of recycled material.

A Tesla Model S on the other hand takes 16 months to become as eco-friendly as a BMW 7-series for example, since Tesla’s production method isn’t exactly taken straight out of Greenpeace’s handbook. On top of that, BMW has been the most environmentally sustainable automotive manufacturer for the past decade according to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

The several downsides to the electric car as of now include range anxiety, high cost and to some extent, a lack of knowledge. The range anxiety stems from electric cars having relatively short ranges compared to their internal combustion engine equivalents and moreover, it takes time to charge an electric car.

This has an impact on the essence of motoring — freedom. The high cost relates to numerous economic phenomenons, but it’s a matter of the electric car finally making its debut; not everyone being willing to jump on the innovation bandwagon.

I certainly think that the reformation of mass transport is something a society must consider when it has reached a certain level of development. For example, Germany wants to ban all diesel and gasoline-powered automobiles by 2030 while the entire idea of an electric car baffles the African continent in its entirety.

To come to the point, the electric car as a notion is slowly but surely gaining traction. With Tesla leading the charge, major car manufacturers have decided to really invest in alternative propulsion methods. As time progresses and the fledgling generation has more purchasing power combined with technological improvement, it’s merely a matter of time before changing our ways becomes a necessary evil. Even though the U.S. is an economic powerhouse, the country cannot stagnate the development of electric cars. Europe leads by example. Your move, America.

 

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

 

Photo taken by Marcus Bergen.

 

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