You might have spotted a little electric vehicle jetting by, but did you know that electric vehicles are used for other purposes than private travel, such as public transportation? Or that the same technology that fuels those cute little cars can also power much larger vehicles, like city buses? Electric vehicles have the potential to create a more sustainable environment, especially when implementing this technology for public transportation purposes.
A Brief History on Electric Vehicles
Consumer interest in electric vehicles has waxed and waned during various generations. The first electric vehicle was created in 1832. Thomas Edison produced a better battery for electric vehicles in 1901. NASA’s lunar rover traveled on Mars in 1971. The first mass-produced hybrid debuted in 1997. Tesla took on the electric vehicle in 2006. The Department of Energy began building an infrastructure for electric vehicles from 2009 to 2013. Electric vehicles became more available to the mass market in 2014.
Facts about Electric Vehicles
Here are some fun facts to know about electric vehicles:
- Over 25,000 charging stations in the United States had been erected by the end of 2020.
- California has nearly half of all charging stations in the US, followed by New York, Florida, and Texas, which have at least 2,000 stations each.
- A Tesla Roadster is faster than most sports cars, going from 0 to 60 in less than 2 seconds.
- Almost half of the world’s electric vehicles are in China.
- Electric vehicles can travel up to about 200 miles per single charge.
- Level 3 charging, the fastest and most often offered at a public charging station, can provide about 250 driving miles in about an hour.
The Pew Research Center shared the following statistics about the market share of electric vehicles:
- Seven percent of Americans say they currently have an electric or hybrid vehicle.
- There are currently about 10.2 million vehicles in the world.
- The US has about 17 percent of the world’s electric vehicles.
- China has 44 percent of the world’s electric vehicles.
- Europe has about 31 percent of the world’s electric vehicles.
- The annual growth rate of electric vehicle sales has occurred in Europe, with a 60 percent compound annual growth rate.
- Electric vehicles account for about 2 percent of the US new-car market.
- Nearly three-quarters of all cars sold in Norway in 2020 were electric vehicles.
- More than half of the vehicles sold in Iceland in 2020 were electric.
Electric Vehicles vs. Traditional Vehicles
Up to 80 percent of the battery energy powers electric vehicles, compared to 14 percent to 26 percent of the energy from a traditional vehicle.
On average, electric vehicles require little maintenance over the car’s life than traditional vehicles but are more expensive to fix when it’s needed. This principle applies to many components of the vehicle. For example, brake pads last longer in EVs because they use regenerative braking to slow down, decreasing wear and tear.
EVS are 10 to 40 percent more expensive than gas-powered vehicles. However, the average fuel cost of a traditional vehicle is $2.85 per gallon of gas, compared to $1.16 per comparable amount of energy.
Electric vehicles can only travel 100 to 300 miles in one charge, depending on the model.
US States/Countries Using Electric Vehicles in Their Public Transportation Systems
Many areas are currently using electric vehicles and encouraging wider use through carsharing programs, city buses, school buses, and other initiatives. Some examples include:
- Denver’s electric carsharing program
- Aspen’s electric shuttle
- Sacramento’s electric carsharing program
- Los Angeles’ carsharing program
- Portland’s carsharing program
- Alt Fuels Colorado program
- Boulder Valley School District’s electric vehicles, school buses, and charging stations
- Sacramento’s electric school buses
- Massachusetts Electric School Bus Pilot Project
- Columbus’ rebate program for rideshare drivers to switch to EVs
- Uber’s initiative to implement electric vehicles in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Austin, Montreal, and Seattle
- Western Europe’s electric bus initiative
- Electric buses in China cities
Some of the goals to implement electric vehicles include:
- Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus Initiative: 100 percent by 2030
- Los Angeles’ 100 percent electric public transit by 2030
- Seattle’s 120 electric buses by 2022
- Denver’s 100 percent of public transit by 2050
Main Benefits of Electric Vehicles in Public Transportation
Some of the main benefits of electric vehicles to use as part of public transportation fleets are:
Lower Carbon Footprint
Electric vehicles have a much lower carbon footprint than traditional gas-initiated vehicles. The transportation sector is the primary source of CO2 emissions in the United States. Implementing electric vehicle fleets can drastically reduce carbon emissions.
Cost Savings over the Lifetime of the Vehicle
Experts estimate that over $60 billion can be saved on fuel and maintenance costs. The cost of charging a vehicle via electricity is much less than power it up via fuel.
Increase in Jobs
Experts estimate that switching to an all-electric infrastructure could result in nearly one million jobs, including drivers, solar and wind energy installers, catenary installation for consumer rails, EV charging infrastructure workers, and battery storage warehouse workers.
Public transportation is generally a safer mode of transportation. With greater investment in electric transit, more people could use these vehicles than private vehicles.
Less Dependency on Foreign Fuels
Switching to electric vehicles can eradicate some of the dependency that we have on other countries for fuel.
Air pollution accounts for $100 billion in national healthcare costs every year, much of which could be eliminated. Additionally, 4,200 lives each year could be saved by eliminating much of the air pollution problem.
Electric vehicles provide a more sustainable option since they are not reliant on fossil fuels. Even when considering the resources expended.
Main Challenges of Electric Vehicles in Public Transportation
By far, the biggest challenge facing electric vehicles is the need for infrastructure to support these vehicles. Currently, large swaths of electric vehicles are in certain areas, which often do have the charging stations necessary to help power them and get them from one location to another. However, this is not the case for spanning the entire country. The other issue is generating enough electric power across the country to accommodate electric vehicles and regular household, business, and industry needs.
By prioritizing the long-term benefits of environmental sustainability, lower maintenance costs, and improved health, fully implementing electric vehicles is possible. EVs are on the cusp of creating an environmental revolution. Are we ready for it?
Emily Andrews is the marketing communications specialist at RecordsFinder, an online public records search company. Communications specialist by day and community volunteer at night, she believes in compassion and defending the defenseless.