What to know We have seen greater adoption of electric cars in recent years as the technology has advanced and costs reduce, but how has this progressed for heavy duty trucks within the US? The opportunity arises when medium to heavy duty vehicles account for 26% of GHG emissions in the transport sector. This is clearly recognised by major truck manufacturers like Daimler, Freightliner, Volvo, Toyota, Schneider and Tesla all in the race to be market leaders.
There are about 4,000 electric trucks on the road, with the expectation of increasing to 48,000 by 2025. However, the rate of adoption is still met with its challenges like limited range, lack of working charging stations and high upfront costs.
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Big picture: GM announced plans to release an electric Hummer in 2023. It got me thinking, is it time to make the switch to electric vehicles?
Benefit of electric vehicles:
- Lower carbon footprint... social impact ✓
- Lower maintenance costs... convenience factor ✓
- Tax credits... financial incentive ✓
Cost of electric vehicles:
- EVs require minerals like cobalt and lithium to function. Mineral mining is a tough industry with poor standards in developing countries like Bolivia and Chile. Organizations are working to change that.
- Electric vehicles have a limited driving range compared to their gas cousins. You may find yourself charging up more than usual.
- High sticker prices: The average price of a new electric vehicle is almost double the price of a gas car.
- Limited amount of charging stations: this is a tricky one, because there are still more charging stations per EV on the road than there are gas stations for gas cars. Unless you go on a road trip, most of your charging will probably be at home anyway.
Bottom line: With billions of dollars flowing in, electric vehicles are not only here to stay, they are booming.
If you 1) need a car in your life 2) want to be a part of a cleaner future and 3) can afford the extra monthly cost (for now), then making a switch to electric vehicles is the right thing to do.
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Founder story: Elon Musk (co-founder) is a controversial figure with a complicated history. But he is a forward-thinker that can help drive a more sustainable future.
Industry standards: Automakers have a history of poor environmental standards. The manufacturing process requires loads of resources, equipment and infrastructure. Tesla has a $500bn+ market cap, so we understand that complete sustainability is difficult to accomplish.
Materials: Modern cars use metals (aluminum in common), silica, rubber, plastic, rubber, soy, wheat, rice… to name a few. In terms of sustainability, the lithium ion battery is most concerning.
Tesla's current battery uses cobalt... linked to human rights violations in the Congo. Cobalt also makes the vehicle more expensive. Tesla is currently working to remove cobalt from their supply chain.
Ethics: To hit ambitious production goals, Tesla overworked domestic workers in a pretty ugly way. That adds to their controversy in the Congo. Not a good look when a billionaire does so well and you find out workers were unhappy.
Bottom line: Tesla has sustainability tied to its mission, and they are doing awesome things in the solar energy space. Still, their current business model is not sustainable. Wait until Tesla removes cobalt, improves worker conditions and reduces vehicle prices to make an ethical purchase.
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