Life with an Electric Car: the Bright Side of Driving a Giant, Clean Cellphone
Having an electric car is not like having a vehicle with a battery instead of a gas tank. It’s like having a giant cellphone on wheels.
There are millions of us that think about how we can change our everyday lives to be more environmentally friendly and help in the battle against climate change. Eventually, many of us will end up using an electric car as highly polluting combustion engines quickly become a thing of the past. It’s nothing new to hear how this can affect financial activity, but it is also good to know how this is going to affect our lives.
The production of electric vehicles has shot up in recent years. About 5% of all cars sold in 2020 were electric. In a recent article from the BBC, it has been compared to the internet boom of the 1990s. They cite estimates from the Swiss bank UBS, which anticipate that in 2025, 20% of all new cars sold in the world will be electric and 40% in 2030. In 2040, practically all new cars sold will be electric, especially considering that the production of combustion engine vehicles could end in developed countries by 2035
It’s generally understood that the mass arrival of these vehicles to our part of the world is very distant. Although the costs of electric vehicles continue to drop, they are still out of reach for most people. Yet they will be sooner than later, so we are going to look at the effects this will have on the economy and social infrastructure.
For example, several years ago, during a visit to Chile, I was talking to a few taxi drivers about the switch to electric cars. According to them, what held them back was the paradigm shift. Taxi drivers and delivery people are used to dealing with the problems commonly found in combustion engines, but the world of the electric car is completely new to them. On top of that, energy consumption depends on the season since electric vehicles have less mileage when it’s cold. This is something to keep in mind.
Another problem is the maintenance of charging stations. A short while back, four charging stations opened in a supermarket near my house, but no one has taken the time to maintain them, and they no longer work. It’s great that vehicle companies and service companies like supermarkets install charging stations to make life easier for everyone, but they also need to maintain them.
Although there are certain difficulties that come with changing a car model, these are not issues far down the line, but a present-day reality. In fact, this is my current situation as an early adopter of an electric car since I recently bought a Tesla model. What I can say is that it is not simply a matter of changing where you fill up. It’s a complete shift in mentality that makes you see things in a new light.
Let’s compare the electric car with a cellphone. Many years ago, when I did not have a cellphone, I did not worry about charging my house phone. My phone was plugged in and when people rang, I answered. Now, I have to charge my cellphone every day or night so that it doesn’t run out of battery. This has become a ritual, around which I have had to schedule my daily routine, at least to a certain extent.
The same thing happens with an electric car. It’s not something that you refill with gas a couple times a month. It’s something that you have to plug in continually so that the battery doesn’t die, leaving you stranded somewhere (which already happened to me once). It’s an extra chore, every day. One might be tempted to say that it’s a sacrifice, but it really isn’t any more difficult than charging your phone. In exchange for charging my phone, the cellphone provides me with infinite advantages that my phone lacked. Something similar happens with an electric car.
Beyond the positive effects on the environment and the lack of polluting emissions, an electric car has abilities that, by its own nature, a conventional vehicle lacks. It is literally a computer on wheels with all the benefits that come along with it. Whenever there’s a problem, you can restart it, just like a computer.
The most important thing is that, just as millennials and future generations cannot fathom what it was to have a landline at home, that cultural shift will happen in the blink of an eye. It’s just like when I see my son playing with his toy cars and I realize that before putting them away, he tells me he needs to charge their batteries.
Electric vehicles are going to keep changing our lives in one way or another, both within and outside of Latin America and the Caribbean, and their impacts will be increasingly important. Yet for our children, that will be the only life they will have ever known. We need to be ready.
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