Electric cars: Do they live up to the hype?

The automotive industry has for some time touted electric vehicles as the future of green cars, with their potential to lead to a completely emissions-free future.

However, a group of researchers recently put them to the test and found that in the long-term, electric drive passenger vehicles (EDVs) - which encompass hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars - may not be as effective as we'd like to believe.

The study, conducted by North Carolina State University in the United States, predicted that even if the use of EDVs increased significantly by 2050, we were unlikely to see a substantial drop in harmful emissions.

These include the main culprits such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
According to North Carolina State University's Dr Joseph DeCarolis, the chances of reducing key emissions in the future were slim even if EDVs made up 42 per cent of passenger cars.

"There are a number of reasons for this," Dr DeCarolis said in a January 21 statement.

"In part, it's because some of the benefits of EDVs are wiped out by higher emissions from power plants. Another factor is that passenger vehicles make up a relatively small share of total emissions, limiting the potential impact of EDVs in the first place."

He concluded that the best way forward would therefore be for government to set goals for reducing emissions "rather than promoting specific vehicle technologies with the idea that they'll solve the problem on their own".

If you're a fleet manager, these findings demonstrate that it may not be enough to simply invest in electric cars - a proactive fleet management program is required to make a substantial impact on emissions reduction.

Fleet management software, for example, can help you with environmental reporting to keep your emissions in check.