Sparked by eco-concern, the high maintenance cost of internal combustion vehicles, and the ever-dwindling oil supply, EVs have found a definite foothold in the personal vehicle market. While eco-friendly vehicles have a lot promise for the entire world, no place will benefit more from their rapid growth than China.
China, already the most-populated nation on Earth, combined with rapid industrialization and a fast-growing economy, has the expanding middle-class hungry for more modern luxuries. China is now the world leader in car production and thanks to a vehicle-hungry marketplace 1 billion strong, with traffic jams that can take up 50 lanes and last for days, the problem is already here and, just like their economy, growing rapidly.
Smog and dust particulates are a daily occurrence in Beijing, at times getting so thick it forms a noxious fog throughout the city, and breathing that level of polluted air is, equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes per day.
The Electric Savior
EVs, however, offer hope to a country that is literally drowning in its own fumes. 200 million vehicles are projected to be on the road in China by 2020 and the market is only going to continue to increase. Replacing all those internal combustion engines won’t be easy, but with the market still ramping up it has to be done.
China happens to be a world leader when it comes to investing in sustainable energy. Having bet big into the renewables industry to the tune of $56.3B in 2014 alone, China far outpaces any other country on the planet in developing energy from alternative sources. By dumping billions of dollars into solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power over the past several years, China is quickly trying to fix factory-born air pollution. With electrical production being generated from sustainable net-zero sources, EVs take China’s air pollution down even further. With a high number of EVs on the roads, air pollution could easily become a thing of the past and the market is taking notice.
Just recently Tesla announced its plan to bring its manufacturing directly to China. Framing this as a cost cutting measure to investors, what this development really centers on is selling more EVs in China. Take for example one of the most absurd features of the Model X, bio-weapon defense mode. In the US this feature is nothing more than a headline grabber, something with a lot of style but no substance. In China, however, this mode helps filter out all the pollutants in the air. Imagine sitting in a car, surrounded by other cars, with the AC sucking in all that pollution and blowing it directly into your face. Now that HVAC system is looking a lot sweeter to the Chinese elite who can afford it.
Swapping MPG for kWh
Imagine replacing one third of internal combustion vehicles in China with EVs and air pollution begins to take a big hit, which happens to be good news for the west. The reason: China’s air pollution problem isn’t just China’s problem. While it's interesting to see China focus so heavily into renewable energy, most of the leading innovations, especially within the electric vehicle market come from the West, and for good reason. It's estimated that nearly one-third of San Francisco's air pollution comes from mainland China and if the trend continues the US will surely be drowning in fumes too.
BMW and Tesla lead the growing EV market in bringing electric cars out from the ”hobbyist” market and into the mainstream. While Tesla’s vehicles go the furthest, it's the BMW i3 that packs the most milage per kilowatt. A combination of the two outstanding technologies isn’t far behind. One that will combine the range of Tesla’s Model S with the efficacy of the i3 and land right around the sweet spot of 35k to attract the middle-class market. They are not the only ones either, with Volkswagen, GM, and Nissan already in the race and making big moves to bring electric vehicles to the middle class. In fact by the end of the decade all are planning to release models that cost under $35,000 and have a range of nearly 300 miles.
These aspirations may seem seem like pipe-dreams, but consider only five years ago the Model S and Nissan Leaf were still in development, the Chevy Volt was the supposed savior of EVs, and Fisker was going to be the hottest selling roadster period (although they did catch on fire quite often). Fast-forward to the present market and nearly every major automotive manufacturer is scrambling to put an EV out. With all of them identifying China as a must. Thanks to skyrocketing demand, the EV marketing in China is set to explode.
Electric Vehicles take pollution out of the equation for both China and the US. According to the EPA, motor vehicles collectively cause 75 percent of carbon monoxide pollution in the U.S, while the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) estimates that on-road vehicles cause one-third of the air pollution that produces smog. Add all that with the rapid growth of motor vehicles in China, and we see a very smog-filled future for the entire world.
Electric Vehicles, if implemented correctly, are a green solution for everyone. Not only can they begin to massively cut airborne pollution but can turn into an incredibly profitable market for modern automakers. As the advantages of EVs become more well-known, and the technology rapidly catches up it may not be long before the pollution problems of today, become a distant memory of the past.