Now, more than ever, is the time to make the switch to electric vehicles.
While electric vehicles (EVs) have yet to break into the mainstream here in the Middle East like they have in the US and Europe, MENA consumers should start asking themselves whether they would consider buying a battery-powered automobile.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), and as reported by The Guardian, the world’s thirst for oil will continue to grow over the next two decades, with climate-damaging emissions climbing until at least 2040. As such, there has never been a greater need for EVs than today.
Here is cross-comparison between internal-combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), and EVs.
While EVs will often be charged with electricity generated by fuel-powered power stations, the carbon print is often much less than actively burning fuel for an ICEV. Certainly, this depends on the fuel mix used by said power stations and the time of day, but a research paper by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory still finds EVs to be more environmentally-friendly regardless.
Then, there is the concern of battery manufacturing and the emissions that entails. According to a Chinese research paper, as cited by Forbes, Chinese EV battery manufacturers produce up to 60% more CO2 during fabrication than during ICEV engine production. As a result, at least during overall production, both vehicle types produce similar emissions.
However, the true savings are made across the lifetime of the vehicle. While EV production might produce significant emissions, an EV’s carbon footprint across its operational lifespan is barely notable in comparison with the amount of fuel an ICEV consumers over its lifespan.
“From cradle to grave, battery-electric vehicles are cleaner,” the Union of Concerned Scientists states in 2015 research findings. “On average, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) representative of those sold today produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, even when the higher emissions associated with BEV manufacturing are taken into consideration. Based on modeling of the two most popular BEVs available today and the regions where they are currently being sold, excess manufacturing emissions are offset within 6 to 16 months of driving.”
Keep in mind that these exceptionally positive results are already 4 years old.
To address the pollution produced when making the batteries, Chinese manufacturers could cut their emissions by up to 66% if they adopted American or European manufacturing techniques. As for the emission cost for charging vehicles, this can be greatly reduced if we use electricity generated by renewable means.
Today, the biggest obstacle EVs face is that they appear much more expensive than their ICEV counterparts.
A standard EV like the hatchback 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV LT has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $37,495 including destination, while the Premier version opens at $41,780. Cheaper options like the Nissan Leaf EV exist, but are still more expensive than their same-tier ICEV counterparts.
EVs are expensive for two main reasons: battery production costs, and the novelty of the technology. This is easily solvable. First, the cost of battery production has been dipping over the years. According to estimates by EV makers, the average cost of battery cells has come down to $200 per kilowatt per hour (kWh), as against $1,200 per kWh three years ago, the Business Standard reports.
The true cost savings are made across an EV’s lifespan, in terms of saved fuel costs and repair fees.
“The drivetrain in an ICE vehicle contains 2,000+ moving parts typically, whereas the drivetrain in an EV contains around 20,” Forbes explains. “A quick scan of the top 10 cars repairs of 2015 is telling. Only one of these faults can happen to an electric vehicle (number 4, and it is by far the cheapest to fix).”
Secondly, the technology has been becoming more affordable in recent years, and coupled with repair fee savings, makes for a very economic purchase.
3. Travel distance
A common concern for those on the fence regarding EVs is that a fully-charged battery would not last for long distances. On average, ICEVs can travel 300-400 miles (482-643 km) on a full tank, but even this can be a generous estimate at times.
EVs, on the other hand, are reaching this threshold, and then some.
“Lithium-Ion batteries are increasing in energy density at a rate of 5-8% per annum,” Forbes notes. “Mercedes has said that their fully electric Mercedes EQC, which will come to market in 2019, will have an expected range of 500km. The Tesla Roadster, which launches in 2020, has a stated range of 1,000km.”
Consider also the cost of topping up an ICEV gas tank compared to topping up your charge on an EV in a country like the UK, where the average price of a litre of fuel is now around £1.28 ($1.64). With the average gas tank around 45 and 65 liters in volume, it would cost a UK citizen around $73.8-$106.6 top up their vehicle.
Now, compare what the Bolt EV would cost to charge as per Lebanese prices, in a country where a major economic crisis is taking place at the moment.
“It costs you 12,000 Lebanese Pounds ($7.96) to top-up our [fully-electric] Bolt EV at home,” Georges Aouad, Senior Sales Consultant at IMPEX, Chevrolet, told us during this year’s first annual Middle East E-MotorShow. “At a rate of 199 LBP ($0.13) per kW (with government-supplied electricity at home), the savings (when charging at home) in comparison with fuel prices are astonishing.”
Consider also that a fully charged Bolt EV will net you a whopping range of 400km, but the range shoots up to 520km once you take regenerative breaking into the equation, Aouad explained.
With battery capacities increasing over the years, EVs will overtake ICEVs in short time.
4. Drivetrain power
Another common concern among ICEV drivers is that EVs just lack the raw power of a gas-powered transmission. According to HowStuffWorks, EVs have faster acceleration than most gas-powered cars, meaning they excel at tests like the 0-100 km metric. In terms of top speeds, however, ICEVs still reign, which is to be expected given their century-old lifespan.
Still, the average consumer won’t be speeding above 120 kmph in most instances, especially as urbanization continues to take hold of the world. In this day and age, economy of travel almost always trumps the thrill of travel.
These 4 factors are among the EV’s hottest points debate.
The EV market is growing
In the last few years, there has been a major push in the electric vehicle field. Companies like Tesla and Nissan have sold consumers on the idea of driving an EV, and we already see some consumers make the jump.
According to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports (CR) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), 63% of prospective car buyers in America have some interest in electric vehicles. Breaking this down, 31% would consider one for their next purchase, 27% would consider one at some point down the road, and 5% say they are definitely planning on buying or leasing one for their next vehicle.
In the Middle East, we have seen a more modest push, given that most Arab countries still lack the infrastructure to accommodate these new vehicles. The UAE is making great strides in this field, however, under UAE Vision 2021. According to a forecast by ResearchAndMarkets.com, the UAE electric vehicle market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 32.1% during 2019-25, signifying growing faith in this new means of transport.