by Jim Greig, Global Sales and Marketing Manager Electronic Materials, LORD Corporation
I recently had a conversation with my 13-year-old daughter about fossil fuels. The discussion was prompted by what she is learning in school – how the world is being depleted of natural resources and which alternative energy options are viable for the future. Even at a very young age, children are beginning to understand that dependence on fossil fuels for their generation and for their children’s generation is not practical. It’s not just the “cool” thing anymore to be into alternative energy; it is imperative.
Awareness of the exhaustion of fossil fuels, along with legislated emission standards throughout the world, is driving the alternative viewpoint towards alternative energy and electric vehicles. The auto industry is starting to take note of the world’s “greenification” as it develops hybrid vehicles and looks to fuel cells as a potential offset.
In addition to the emerging interest in electric vehicles for personal use, other enterprises are also considering alternatives to gas-fueled transport. Companies such as UPS and Fed-Ex are contemplating electrifying their trucks, which would be especially efficient for the type of “start-stop” driving that is done as packages are delivered. Electrification of school buses and public transportation is a big target for electrification, especially for reducing air pollution in city and suburban environments.
As electric vehicle technology advances and the cost of ownership becomes more feasible for the average driver, do we have the infrastructure available for recharging the vehicles as drivers go about their daily business? Right now, we don’t.
Just as we have gas stations on almost every corner in major cities and suburban areas, and “rest” stops along the highways, the U.S. will need to have a network of charging stations situated along roadsides and throughout cities and towns. While OEMs are working on bringing down the cost of electric vehicles, the infrastructure for charging the electric vehicles needs to be established.
One of the major drawbacks to the acceptance of electric vehicles is “range anxiety.” Yes, you can charge your electric vehicle in your home and it will be operational for 100-to-200 miles before needing a recharge. So while you can calculate your driving distance ahead of time before you will need a recharge, how much easier would it be to know that a recharging station is conveniently available? That is the key to mass adoption of electric vehicles – charging stations accessible everywhere in the U.S.
With a charging station infrastructure in place, electric vehicles become a viable option for both short and long journeys – local trips to school or work or the grocery store, and longer drives to for vacation or a business trip.
So the question is: Do you wait for more consumers to buy electric vehicles as the prices become more palatable and then begin to establish charging stations through the U.S.? or Do you make the investment in the charging stations now so they will be ready for the electric vehicle users?
Children in school are already mindful of the fact that the world’s resources are coming to an end, and they will be the driving force towards alternative energy use. Is the U.S. culture ready for the infrastructure changes that will be necessary for electric vehicle transportation?
For more information on how LORD technology can help electric vehicle companies save money and become more efficient, please contact us.