by Zachary Shahan: I’ll let you in on a little secret: we’re electric car fans here on “The CleanTechnica Show.” I know — you’d never know it if I didn’t tell you…
However, we’re not electric car fans just because we got struck by lightning while trying to contemplate the meaning of life (which may or may not have actually happened). We’re electric car fans because of … well … a bunch of stuff. Because physics. Because life. Because economics. Because fun. Because brains. Because time.
Oh, those explanations aren’t eloquent enough for you? Okay, I’ll get a little more serious and run down 30 genuine reasons why I think your next car should be electric.
(Full disclosure: I realize not everyone’s situation is precisely the same, so some of the reasons may not relate to you, and some of the reasons are mutually exclusive since they address the different desires and needs of various individuals. So, please don’t go crazy troll rabid monster commenter on me and complain that not all 30 reasons apply to you. Thank you.)
1. It’ll save you time.
Yes, despite the hype about charging times, there’s a good chance driving electric will save you time. Imagine it like this: You have a gas station at your house. When you get home, you stick the nozzle in the car and go inside to have dinner, play with your kids, chill out on the couch, work on something, play video games, knit, go to sleep, or whatever. When you leave the next day, you just take the nozzle out.
This is life with an EV, except you don’t have to worry about the effects toxic gasoline will have on your family, you don’t have annoying puddles of gasoline accumulating on your driveway, you don’t have to worry about your house exploding if grandma lights up a cigarette and drops it in the wrong spot, and you’ll probably just charge every 2–3 days since charging every day is seldom necessary.
If you have charging stations at work, the home + work charging will probably cover ~97% of your charging needs. If it turns out you have no option to charge at home or work, on the other hand, there are still plenty of productive and recreational things to do while charging in public (that list doesn’t even include Pokémon Go!), and it still just takes 2–3 seconds to plug in and unplug. (Though, admittedly, ICE’ing is a legitimate concern, and some parking officers may not be doing what they’re supposed to do in order to prevent this.)
I’ll just give one more example here: You charge your computer, telephone, etc., at home, right? Would you prefer it ran on gasoline and lasted 1–3 weeks between charges, but that you had to take it to a gas station every 1–3 weeks in order to fill it up? I didn’t think so.
2. Electric cars are freakin’ fun.
New technology can’t just be “meh, it’s just as good as the old stuff.” If it is to burst through the bubble of human inertia, it’s got to be better. Electric cars definitely are better. Yes, you have to pay >$100,000 to get a 5–7 seat Tesla Model S P100D that smokes every other car to 60 mph except the >$1 million and out-of-production Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LeFerrari two-seaters, but even a low-cost electric car like the Nissan LEAF or Renault Twizy is a blast to drive thanks to instant torque and the effortless, nearly silent, super efficient power of electric motors. You have to experience this to understand it, and most auto manufacturers aren’t even trying to tell you about it (since most of them don’t actually want to sell you electric cars), but once you experience it, you’ll see the light.
Instant Torque EVImage via DesignNews
3. Easier merging into traffic.
Granted, not everyone likes to have that kind of fun. Heck, some people don’t seem to like having fun at all! Quick acceleration only makes 90% of people smile. But the instant torque makes driving much nicer and less stressful in other ways. Since you have essentially all of the car’s power ready at a moment’s notice, you can much more easily get onto a highway and merge into traffic, get into a roundabout, or leave a red light thanks to the magic power of EVs. It’ll genuinely ease your nerves and make driving more enjoyable, or at least less unenjoyable.
4. The smooth & silent drive is surreal.
What does driver after driver and passenger after passenger rave about after testing out an electric car? If not the instant torque, it’s the smooth and silent drive. In fact, this typically comes first, since it’s obvious right away and you still need to go find an empty spot on the road to show off the torque. Naturally, people freakin’ love it. The rumbling explosions of a gasoline engine and all the crazy mechanisms that are in place to make it work and not harm you are, surprisingly, not that enjoyable to most of us. But we don’t realize how much nicer life can be until we drive an electric car (or ride a bike) instead.
“It’s so quiet! Is it really on? Oh my gosh, we’re driving?! It’s so quiet! That’s so nice.” (Granted, some people find it disconcerting at first, but basically in the way that you find it a bit disconcerting when your vacation starts and you don’t have to do a million things at work.)
5. Societal collapse isn’t cool.
This should really be #1, but since our priorities are often totally screwed up, I postponed stating the obvious:
Society is totally, ridiculously, superbly, insanely screwed if we don’t electrify transport and switch to clean electricity ASAP.
Like, ASAP — not in 5–10 years, not by 2050, but right freakin’ now. Or we can just let society collapse and order up an onslaught of climate wars. Whatever.
6. Your lungs are undervalued.
One crazy thing about us humans is that we’ll put up with all kinds of nonsense if we’re used to it. This apparently even includes premature death, premature death that we could avoid if we simply had a little foresight and concern for our collective good. A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report found that air pollution causes 3 million premature deaths a year worldwide. This includes various types of air pollution, but it’s obvious that air pollution from gasoline and diesel vehicles is a huge culprit here.
Let’s be frank: If a terrorist organization was causing 3 million deaths a year, you’d be flippin’ your freakin’ shit about it. You, your neighbor, your neighbor’s dog, even your neighbor’s little yellow fish. The world would be up in arms and media networks would be in full crisis mode (for an actually legitimate reason).
Ah, but it’s not terrorists — it’s just us, and the air pollution we create. Carry on with your day, nothing to see here.
(By the way, if you want to read more about what kind of nasty crap is associated with gasoline cars — and fossil power plants — check out “Top 10 Toxic Ingredients Used In The Fossil Fuel Industries.”)
7. You want the safest car in the world, right?
Oh, you care about your family and your own life? You want the car that’ll best protect you if you get slammed by a GMC Yukon? Sort of weird, but hey, that’s cool. Since that’s the case, you probably want the car that got a 5.4 out of 5 rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) — essentially putting every other car on the road to shame for how much worse they protect their passengers (and those around the car). If you’ve somehow missed this amazing news: that car is the Tesla Model S.
Oh, you’re set on getting a really big vehicle that can seat William and Elizabeth Robinson’s family? You want the safest SUV? No worries, just change that “S” to an “X” (and try to not get distracted putting any other letters in between), and you’re set. (Seriously, watch the presentation from the Model X unveiling.)
By the way, included in safety, imho, is the fact that Tesla’s vehicles have the best autonomous driving tech on the market. That can make your drive much safer and much more relaxing — bonus points!
8. Oh, you want the safest car for $35,000 or less?
That will obviously be the Tesla Model 3. (Note: “or less” applies if you can take advantage of incentives like the $7,500 US federal tax credit for EVs and a wide variety of state incentives, or if you live in another country with decent incentives.)
9. Who loves exporting $$$ for oil?
This is a topic for another day — I’m planning to write a full new article on this — but until then, let me just point out that the USA imports ~8 million barrels of oil a day, from a bunch of countries that probably wouldn’t otherwise (or still don’t) call us their friend. The European Union imports ~12 million barrels of oil a day, sending ~€1 billion out of Europe 365 and ¼ times per year. Sure would be nice to keep that money at home, wouldn’t it?
10. Who wants to send more $$$ to US oil billionaires?
Of course, when not sending cash money to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iraq, and the like, we’re probably sending it to US oil billionaires so they can tell us more how a trickle-down economy works … while they stash more cash than they can keep track of in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands.
11. You can boost your local economy (#winning).
Sending that money to community solar farms, local wind power plants, or the owner of your rooftop solar panels (who I hope is you), you can keep more money circulating among non-billionaires in your local economy and maybe even in your home. (Apologies — or maybe no apologies needed — if you’re a billionaire and are reading this. Definitely no apologies if you are having a servant read it to you.)
12. Your car will get better over time.
Again, this is specifically if you choose to buy a Tesla. The Silicon Valley company will make sure your car becomes better (in some ways) as it ages. Confused? The thing is, Tesla is continuously improving its vehicles via over-the-air software updates. You can just wake up and all of a sudden your car can do something cool, like park itself, or has improved in efficiency, range, etc. That’s just fun.
13. You could save more cash money.
Depending on circumstances regarding how much you drive, the cost of gas along your routes, the cost of electricity for charging, the cost of maintenance (or lack thereof), government and utility incentives, and maybe the value of your time, you may make out saving more money with an electric car than a “comparably equipped” gasoline car. If you go for a used EV, the chance of saving a boatload of money is even greater.
14. Heck, you may even make more money on your car by sharing it than you will spend to buy it!
Shit is about to get really crazy. Apparently, self-driving Tesla cars are coming “a hell of a lot faster” than you think, and that will enable your car to act as your own personal driver by day and a robotaxi by night (or whenever you aren’t using it), which could actually make you more money than the car costs you!
15. All the cool kids are going electric.
Going electric is now the cool thing to do. Akon, Steph Curry, Oprah, Ben Affleck, Don Cheadle, James Cameron, Cameron Diaz, Beyonce & Jay Z, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Kiedas, Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Steven Spielberg, and a bunch of other celebrities now drive Teslas. I wonder why. As Akon told me in January, he actually had 28 fancy cars and dropped all of them except 4 Teslas — watch the video to hear why.
16. Did I mention tens of thousands of species?
It’s not just about the people, though — it’s also about the animals. We’ve initiated the world’s 5th mass extinction, and it’s only going to heat up if we don’t electrify transport, use clean electricity, stop deforestation, and stop mindlessly treating horns and bones as medicine.
17. You can seriously, honestly, (sort of) drive on sunlight.
If you stick solar panels on your roof, you can capture sunlight, turn it into electricity, and power your spaceship-like car with that electricity. You’re basically driving on sunlight. Is that ridiculously cool or what?
18. Oil wars not your thing?
Aside from simply sending cash to foreign countries, we spend a fortune through the “Department of Defense” to protect our oil interests around the world, and eventually even start or jump into wars over the resource. If you’re not interested in spending trillions of dollars on the military because of an addiction to oil, and you’re not fond of pushing young adults into horrible suffering and death sentences, the best thing to do is help cut our oil addiction.
19. It’ll sound like a spaceship.
Maybe this one doesn’t weigh with quite the importance of #18, but it’s still cool to hear the faint whizz of a powerful electric motor as you fly forward like in a spaceship … or at least my idea of a spaceship from watching Star Trek, Star Wars, and other space-related movies and TV shows.
20. Going to gas stations is so last year.
This point is separate from the time savings mentioned at the top. The fact is, gas stations are pretty unpleasant places. They’re not where you go for a relaxing coffee and bagel on the sidewalk. They stink, they’re packed with toxic gasoline and toxic junk food, and they’re designed to move cars in and out quickly — not to offer a pleasant atmosphere for chilling out. With an electric car, you can almost completely avoid these 20th century establishments.
21. Oil changes, smog checks, muffler problems, transmission problems — #fuggedaboutit.
My first car was a 1990 Audi 80. I was lucky enough to have multiple muffler and transmission problems with that cash sucker. Of course, simple oil changes at really beautiful, beautiful relaxation areas weren’t all that fun either. All of these things (and many more) are avoided with fully electric cars, since you don’t have oil to change, a transmission that can break, mufflers, various hoses and belts, etc. Electric cars are much simpler by default, so can save you a lot of time (have I mentioned that?) and headaches by going electric.
oil changeAdmittedly, this makes oil changes look a bit cooler. Photo via Florida Memory (no known copyright restrictions)
22. A functioning brain ain’t a half-bad idea, to be honest.
Air pollution doesn’t just cause asthma and heart disease — it also damages our brains. A recent study from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that air pollution was linked to brain disorders and diminished cognitive abilities. Any wonder why science isn’t our best subject?
23. Cancer’s not fun.
Aside from lung cancer, outdoor air pollution can also lead to bladder cancer, as well as a host of other health problems. WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies outdoor air pollution as a carcinogen (a “cancer-causing agent“). Air pollution actually “kills more people through cardiovascular disease than through cancer,” but whether it’s heart disease or cancer, it’s a lot easier to read about it than to actually live through (or die from) the suffering created by those health problems.
24. Don’t you want to see the mountains?
As I recently highlighted in my article on what the end of gasoline cars will look like, there are beautiful mountains outside of Los Angeles that people can seldom see from Los Angeles because of the smog.
Los AngelesPhoto by Sam Gao (some rights reserved)
Los Angeles isn’t the only place that has its view messed up by air pollution, though — not even close. Another example I like to share is Paris in smog and out of smog. Here are two pictures to help show the difference:
Paris Smog Paris purple skyPhotos by D€NNI$ (some rights reserved) & Moyan Brenn (some rights reserved
Really, is it hard to see which is the more logical choice? Which city do you want to live in or visit?
25. Being an early adopter is cool.
Were you one of the first people do get a smartphone? I certainly wasn’t, but now that I think about it, it would have been cool if I was. Getting an electric car before your friends and family can set you apart as the adventurer, the cutting-edge tech guru, the esteemed doer and trendsetter, etc. You get all of this honor doing what is actually easier, saves money, and is more fun.
26. You really don’t drive much — get over it.
You feel like you drive all the time, eh? Like maybe the range of a non-Tesla, non-PHEV just isn’t enough for you. Actually, there’s a decent chance you don’t drive a lot but do sit in traffic a lot. EVs don’t really care if you’re sitting in traffic — they don’t suck on your wallet through an old-school, ignorant gas engine while you look out your window for signs of human life. They just stop. In actuality, a recent MIT study found that “87% of vehicles on the road could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available today, even if there’s no possibility to recharge during the day.” That’s in the USA, where people drive about twice as much as people in the UK and other more sanely developed countries. Still have anxiety? It’s called “range anxiety anxiety.” Just let it go. (Granted, if you are in need of a vehicle to fit the other 13% of the US vehicle fleet’s needs, you may need a Tesla or a plug-in hybrid.)
27. This song rocks.
And you can feel totally cool (and maybe even sexy) listening to it in your electric car. If you are more of the “my little minions rule my life” variety, maybe this song would be a better one for you (without any effort on my part, this quickly became my young daughter’s favorite song … which I guess doesn’t come as a huge surprise given how much I probably talk about electric cars). Either way, it’s fun to listen to electricity-related songs while driving an electric car.
Seriously, Exxon freakin’ knew decades ago that it was dooming us, ordering up a wicked stew of natural disasters, heat waves, rising seas, drought, floods, superstorms,war, disease, etc. It knew that burning oil was warming up the globe, and rather than helping to inform society and prevent societal collapse, it started thinking up ways to confuse the public and delay climate action. That’s simply horrible, and we should stop funding the billionaires and millionaires who benefited and continue to benefit from attacking society.
29. Your kids will thank you.
In 1–3 decades, when it becomes absolutely obvious that we made a horrible, horrible decision to not act faster, and that our kids and grandkids are reaping the overwhelming harvest of trouble that results, your kids and grandkids are either going to be massively disappointed in your delay to get in on the cleantech action or they are going to be grateful that you were at least a leader in the shift to cleaner transport and cleaner electricity. Think about it for a moment.
30. Chocolate … mmm.
This was initially intended to be a joke, but I just remembered that chocolate could indeed be much more limited in a warmer world. That would suck! For that matter, so would shortages of avocadoes (my favorite food), bananas, coffee, maple syrup,peanuts and peanut butter, etc. Not cool. Not cool at all.
So, in short, have a heart, go electric.