The rise of electric vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) provide a promising solution as the world moves towards more sustainable infrastructures. As a cleaner and more efficient alternative to their diesel counterparts, EVs are not only expanding sustainable opportunities in logistics but also representing a better future for both consumers and the environment.
The origins of the EV
It’s like they say: history repeats itself. The first EVs were introduced over a century ago and were loved for the same reasons they are popular today; in competition with horse carriages and steam and petrol-powered vehicles, the electric car was perfect for urban settings: it emitted less pollution, was quieter, more practical and easier to drive.
At the turn of the twentieth century, there were as many as 60,000 battery-powered cars in the United States alone. Yet, after 1920 and by the mid-1930s, electric cars would be replaced entirely: the invention of the electric ignition system in 1910 eliminated the need for the hand crank in petrol engines, which meant petrol cars could hit the road just as quickly as their electric competitors. Along with other factors, such as low oil prices and continued advancements in the internal combustion engine, EVs slowly disappeared from the market.
That is, until the 21st century. Due mainly to awareness of the climate crisis and companies like Tesla modernising the EV, electric driving resurged and has positioned EVs as the future of the car and vehicle industry.
The many benefits of electric driving
While still on the rise, electric vehicles have started to win out as they provide a meaningful alternative to diesel vehicles and have become a key innovation in environmentally improving transportation and logistics.
EVs are generally better for the environment than conventional vehicles because they produce fewer emissions, particularly greenhouse gases. EVs use electricity stored in rechargeable batteries to power an electric motor, so they typically have no tailpipe emissions. This is especially important in logistics in urban areas where air quality is a big concern.
EVs are, of course, only as clean as the energy sources used to generate the electricity that powers them. If the electricity used to charge EVs comes from renewable sources, their environmental benefits are even greater.
It is also worth noting that there are environmental concerns associated with the manufacturing of vehicles, especially the environmental impact of production and the waste during disposal of lithium-ion batteries, which are the primary energy storage system used in EVs. However, EVs are still considered a more environmentally friendly alternative as they will help reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
According to studies, as economies scale along with further developments, the efficiency of battery recycling will increase, and there will be a reduction in the need to extract raw materials — meaning that EVs will have even lower emissions over their lifetime.
A slightly underrated benefit of EVs is that they can help reduce noise pollution. While transportation is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions, it’s also the leading cause of global noise pollution. In contrast, EVs emit low sounds, making them a much better option for urban delivery and transport operations, particularly during nighttime deliveries. This is a major benefit in areas with residential neighbours or buildings near warehouses or distribution centres.
Interestingly enough, you may have noticed that EVs actually do emit certain sounds. The lack of noise in EVs has been a topic of safety concern; a vehicle’s engine noise is somewhat essential as it alerts pedestrians about its presence, direction and speed. This resulted in legislation in the EU stating that all EVs must have artificial engine noise. The sounds should now be similar to (and not louder than) a traditional combustion engine, allowing manufacturers to produce more futuristic and creative electric car engine sounds.
Electric vehicles are also improving routing systems, as electric motors make vehicles substantially more energy efficient than internal combustion engines. In fact, EVs convert up to 85 per cent of electrical energy into mechanical energy, making them about three times as efficient as internal combustion engine cars.
Over the years, advances in battery technology have increased the range of EVs, allowing for longer routes without frequent recharging, resulting in improved fuel economy and reduced operating costs. EVs also have fewer moving parts than traditional vehicles, with less wear and tear on the engine, meaning lower maintenance costs over time.
An electric future
While electric vehicles are far from the only solution when it comes to tackling climate change, it is clear that they will play a significant role in the transition towards a more sustainable future. With continued investment and innovation, EVs will keep disrupting the logistics industry — although one can only hope we will not have the same conversation 100 years from now.
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