This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can register here to receive it weekdays.
It’s great to imagine a future of more efficient, pleasant and less damaging transportation for our planet. But come true: Revolutions are not easy.
Today, I’m going to tackle some readers’ questions about this week’s interview with my colleague Neal Boudette about electric cars: When will cars have longer battery life and more charging options? And old electric car batteries will be a danger?
First of all I would like to emphasize: Most environmental experts say that switching to electric cars, especially in combination with generating more energy from renewable sources, can make a difference. big difference in slowing the impact of global warming.
Where is the infrastructure? The readers include Stacy Elwart from Venice, Fla. And Tom Rowe from Stevens Point, Wis., Has similar concerns: How can electric cars peak if charging is not widely and conveniently accessible, and when range remains Missing what cars get gas per barrel?
Brad Plumer, a reporter from the Climate team at The New York Times, explains what’s going on to address charging and battery life challenges:
Many of the newer electric models, like the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, can go well for over 200 miles before needing a recharge. That can be quite practical for most daily trips, but not for longer trips or those There is no place to plug in their car at home.
So some companies, like EVGo, are currently building hundreds of fast chargers, Which can usually add about 100 miles of range within 20 to 30 minutes. That’s slower than refueling at a gas station, but it can make the road trip easier. There is hope that further progress on battery Can speed up charging time significantly. Automakers are constantly trying to improve range.
A lot of local government and the utility companies are also trying to build networks of public chargers, but it’s a huge undertaking and many cities. are in the back. It’s a chicken or egg dilemma: Companies hesitate to invest in chargers until there are a lot of electric cars. But some people remain wary of buying an electric vehicle that doesn’t have better charging options.
It can also take time to add gadgets upgrade their nets to meet more electricity needs.
In the short term, these challenges will likely not prevent electric cars from becoming more popular battery prices plummeted and more and more governments are repulsing the conventional means. By 2030, electric vehicles are expected to account for 20% of new sales in the United States, according to analysts at BloombergNEF.
But sales could eventually reach congestion without the major construction of the charging infrastructure, however, analysts warn. Hopefully charging will get more attention in the coming years.
What happens when electric car batteries have expired? This one comes from Steven Permut in Tucson, Ariz.
The lithium-ion battery powering smartphones and other devices can be hazardous to the environment and be safe. (Fire at the recycling centers is a problem.) Electric cars have really big lithium-ion batteries. It sounds like a potential catastrophe, if and when a large amount of electric cars are finally brought to the pasture.
But Adam Minter, columnist at Bloomberg Opinion (where we are colleagues) and author of two books on reuse and recycling, told me that electric vehicle batteries could have a second useful life. useful.
Second-hand stuff, Minter tells me, is “the source of an incredible level of innovation – and you start to see it with electric car batteries”.
He pointed out a list on eBay in which used Tesla car batteries cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Car batteries with some lifespan will be refurbished to convert conventional cars to electricity in some countries or be turned into generators and energy storage, Minter said. And in China, the world’s largest car market, there are already massive investments in car battery recycling infrastructure. (Although Greenpeace recently said that China hasn’t done enough yet.)
Minter is still concerned about the potential environmental damage caused by the production of electric vehicles and their batteries. However, he added, “I believe there are good uses” for used batteries.
(Listen to this episode of “The Daily” to learn more about reducing US emissions.)
New car players are worth a look
Neal also told me about some of the younger companies that are pursuing what he thinks are promising approaches to the vehicles of the future – though they are far from guaranteed success. Here is Neal assuming three of them:
Rivian is a really interesting company to follow. They’re planning to make electric cars powered by their own software like Tesla – they’ve bought a closed car factory in Illinois. But Rivian is more pragmatic and will follow a lot of established car manufacturing steps that Tesla skipped and later regrets doing so.
One company, Lucid, thinks it has figured out how to squeeze every last bit of energy out of the battery, and plans to release a car it says will travel up to 500 miles on a single visit. charging. Lucid cars will likely be very expensive – $ 100,000 or more – but it’s an interesting concept.
There’s another company called Arrival working on electric delivery trucks and buses with a unique approach: Their vehicles will use giant plastic panels instead of sheet metal. Robots and workers will efficiently assemble vehicles one by one with simplified processes and parts.
Arrival also talks about the production of vehicles in “micro factories” close to those who buy the car in the end. I don’t know if it will work or not, but it’s a purely radical view. This isn’t just about building another car that doesn’t use gasoline.
Before we go …
There are more ways in the tax law: Maryland is preparing to pass the country’s first tax on digital advertising by Google and Facebook, my colleague David McCabe has reported, and it is likely to start a legal battle over How far the restricted American community can go in trying to tax the Big Technique.
A place for effective chats and awful chats: Bloomberg News wrote about Black health professionals who found the Clubhouse audio chat room app an effective place to listen and dispel misinformation about coronavirus, but these efforts also cause them to be harassed or bullied.
A plug-in is not required for your local library: Librarians and public readers (myself included) love the Libby app for borrowing and reading e-books. But Protocol has reported that because e-books are regulated differently than physical books, they are costing libraries very high.
Big Bird introduced us some of his cousins around the world, including the famous Abelardo from Mexico and the slightly menacing Garibaldo from Brazil. (Don’t worry. Bird Bird said he’s very nice.)
We want to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this newsletter and what else you’d like us to explore. You can contact us at [email protected]
If you have not received this newsletter in your inbox, Please register here.