Electric cars are considered a very positive step in the fight against climate change. Replacing all petrol and diesel vehicles with electric alternatives will do a lot to reduce carbon emissions and tackle pollution, particularly in urban areas. But there are some big questions that have yet to be answered and there are some hurdles to overcome if the electric car revolution is to change the automotive industry for good.
The technology is moving fast and while electric cars were considered a niche vehicle 5 years ago, they are becoming more mainstream every day. Lots of cities around the world are moving over to electric vehicles for public transportation and more gas stations are offering charging services. That means that it’s more practical for drivers to use electric vehicles for their day to day driving. The price of electric cars is still high but it’s coming down, so they’re becoming more readily available. However, there are still a lot of obstacles that drivers of electric cars have to deal with, particularly when it comes to repairs.
A recent study in the UK showed that only 3 percent of mechanics were qualified to work on electric vehicles. The majority of those mechanics are working for car manufacturers, which poses a big problem for drivers of electric cars.
If you drive a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle, maintaining it and repairing it is not too difficult and a lot of the work can even be done yourself if you have a basic understanding of the engine. If your battery fails, for example, you have an endless number of options to find a replacement from a local mechanic. If there is a mechanical fault in the engine, they will be able to source and replace the parts on the majority of models. But when it comes to electric vehicles, you are incredibly limited. In most cases, your only option is to take it back to the manufacturer.
This is an issue for a number of reasons. Firstly, it means that mechanics will find it increasingly difficult to keep their business open as more people adopt electric cars. It could pose a potential problem for consumers as well because the manufacturers have cornered the market and it is possible that they may inflate prices for repairs, meaning that the cost of car ownership could increase dramatically for electric car drivers.
There are also questions around recycling because there will be a big increase in the use of lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are already found in most electronics like smartphones and laptops and current recycling levels are not very good. If manufacturers do not put measures in place to recycle the batteries used in their electric vehicles, we could be heading for a recycling disaster in the next decade. The good news is, there are already startups doing research into effective ways to recycle these lithium-ion batteries and manage the waste from electric vehicles.
The first hurdle was improving the technology and making it available to all, but only time will tell whether issues around repairing electric vehicles and recycling the batteries will be dealt with effectively.