Could Tesla and its competitors overthrow the reign of gas-powered cars?
Sometimes we see the end of an era coming from far, far away. New technologies can overtake the old, and after some adjustment periods, the former are slowly phased out. The creation of DVD signaled the slow end of the VHS and cell phones have slowly but surely been taking the place of home phones. Other times, in stark contrast, technologies new and old co-exist. The invention of Blu-Ray discs has yet to destroy the DVD market, and smaller, simple technological upgrades like electric toothbrushes have yet to assert dominance in the teeth cleaning market.
But, then again, electric toothbrushes and DVDs don’t have quite the impact–on an environmental, economic or social level, to name a few–that transportation does.
So which category will the eventual phasing out of gas-powered cars fall into? A complete takeover, relegating gas-powered cars to the likes of VHS that you or your parents own, collecting dust in a garage somewhere, or a coexistence that embodies the “to each his own” mentality?
At this point, the answer is unclear–perhaps masked in the exhaust from the some 260 million vehicles on the road in the US right now.
Fossil fuels are demonstrably harmful to the environment. The fluids and emissions from a traditional gas-powered car directly affects the ozone, air quality and the environment as a whole. With humans taking a stronger stance on environmental issues and sustainability recently, the pressing need to find alternative fuel sources is being investigated more fervently than ever. Electric cars could, in theory, be the answer to the question of how we can continue to power ourselves globally in a more sustainable manner.
They’re also a finite resource. They will, inevitably, run out at some point, forcing the hand of gas-powered vehicle creators to convert to electric or find another means of powering their cars.
The drawbacks to electric cars at this moment are fairly obvious. The price points are out of the range of most moderate spenders, let alone those looking for a car that will get them to and from work every day–a need that can currently be fulfilled for $5,000. A second drawback is not in buying the cars themselves, but in actually charging them. Charging stations, which Tesla has maintained will be free for life, are few and far between. Charging your car at home understandably drives up your electric bill quite a bit.
But, as with almost all new technologies, price inevitably comes down with time. Economy models will, undoubtedly be built, and more competition will mean lower prices for the consumer. Some even claim that Tesla could be beat in the relatively near future, which opens the door for lower costs and more efficient models as the technology progresses.
It’s entirely possible that gas-powered cars could be a marvel–a collectors item of sorts. Something that your grandchildren or great-great-great-grandchildren will pull their friends into the garage to show them that, yes, it’s true, he does have one of those collector’s items. For now, gas-powered cars are here to stay–but before long our reliance on fossil fuels could take a step back, and electric could be the transportation dominating our streets.