Although the year 2030 is only some 20 years away, many drivers in developed countries may be driving electric powered cars by then. This prediction was brought out by a study by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of California at Berkley in which electric cars with “switchable batteries” like that of Shai Agassi from Better Place may comprise as much as 86% of all light vehicles being driven – especially in countries like the USA and Japan.
As more and more battery exchange stations are built, such as the ones being presently developed and tested by Israel’s Better Place Electric Car Company , vehicle caused exhaust emissions could be reduced by more than 60%, and result in a savings in imported fossil fuel to America alone by as much as 3.7 million barrels of oil a day.
Even though the cost of building an infrastructure of battery exchange stations would have a high initial cost (estimated at around $320 billion, the eventual savings on health related costs could be as much as $205 billion, as less work time would be lost from respiratory diseases, and treatment by various health services.
Not only that, the cost of these “total electric” vehicles with exchangeable batteries are expected be lower than full gasoline or hybrid models; and will be about $7,500 less when these models begin coming on the market in 2012.
The study goes on to estimate that the cost of running these vehicles, even with the exchangeable battery system, will average 12-13 cents per mile lower than gasoline powered vehicles (depending on the price of oil, and its availability).
Countries like Japan (who must import nearly 100% of its petroleum) and the USA, which is getting support from the present Administration for developing electric vehicles, are now involved in promoting the future of electric cars. For example, Nissan North America will receive $1.6 billion in federal funds to retool its Smyrna, Tennessee, factory to build advanced electric automobiles and an advanced battery manufacturing facility; and the Japanese government is now testing battery exchange stations installed by Better Place and other similar companies.
Undoubtedly, the course of technology will rapidly accelerate in the next 20 years, and other types of energy sources will be developed, along with battery powered electricity, for moving cars down the road – or through the air, if we consider the Back to the Future movie series starring Michael J Fox.
Some of these include hydrogen fuel, solar energy cells to provide the power instead of exchangeable batteries, etc, and even water- if theories concerning the separation of hydrogen and oxygen molecules from H2O are really true.
Natural and LP gas, as mentioned in a previous Green Prophet article, is also being considered. But even though it is slightly cleaner than petroleum (about 20%) it is still a fossil fuel, and must still be either imported or made from oil.
No doubt, electric powered cars will eventually play a major role in how people will drive, or fly, from one place to another.