More than a decade has passed since the first mass-produced electric propulsion car arrived in our country. Ten years have passed in which the situation of both the electric vehicle market and the recharging network in Spain have notably progressed. However, the road towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is still long and steep.
When I started driving an EV ten years ago, people laughed. Being a pioneer has its price. However, despite having a short range of just 100 kilometers, it suited me well for my daily distances. With an average of 40,000 kilometers a year, I was never stranded.
Those times were rather exploratory and have nothing to do with today. Electric mobility in our country has come a long way, for example, with 100% electric fleets for the police, the city council, or logistics companies. It can be said that electric mobility is now a much more tangible reality.
A Positive Driving Experience Is A Pioneering Step
In 2011, I started driving a Nissan Leaf. The first few weeks were spent adjusting to the reduced range compared to a combustion car. However, it was a big surprise. The surprise was a very positive one, because I got to drive a very quiet and easy to drive vehicle.
This is an adaptation that has continued to the present day. Gradually, many have made the switch to electric mobility. Proof of this is the substantial increase in registrations of this type of vehicle. However, there is still a reluctance to change when we analyze the details of these registrations and see that plug-in hybrids still have a pull.
In this respect, it should not be overlooked that combustion taxes across Europe will cause prices to reverse. In Norway, for example, a car like the Volkswagen Golf, which has all types of engines such as petrol, diesel, gas and electric, the most expensive option is the diesel.
Accelerating Change, But How?
This is a situation that has been aggravated by the supply problems of chips and semiconductors in recent months. The pandemic has highlighted the fragility of the European automotive industry, among others.
And while this is a problem that is affecting other industrial sectors, the automotive sector has added to the problems it already had with, for example, batteries.
However, macroeconomic issues aside, the main issue is to reduce consumer prices. Electric vehicles need to be brought into line with combustion vehicles in order to make the changeover faster. The arrival of more affordable electric models will undoubtedly be a breath of fresh air for the market.
User Awareness Is Key To Change
The switch to electric vehicles has a clear ideological component. The environmental awareness that most electric vehicle users have is key, and is often the first motivation they have for acquiring one of these vehicles.
However, this was not always the case. In 1985 when I started my work awareness of climate change was minimal, as it was only talked about when there were extreme weather changes. But, at the level of science, there was a lot of doubt because the oil defense machine was washing the image of this type of energy.
On the other hand, in Spain’s case, we were just coming out of an economic upswing, and all the waste generated by this economic development had polluted the rivers, the forests, and the landscape. From this point on, the influence of our species on the natural environment began to be questioned.
Moreover, it was at this time that changes began to take place in Catalonia. The administrations began to design wastewater management policies and question the way in which housing and hotels were built on the coast, as well as constructing neighborhoods in critical areas in terms of meteorology.
In this sense, although the scientific evidence on the impact of pollution on the environment is increasingly well founded, there are still doubters. But in the end, the bottom line is that our species is fragile, as the pandemic has shown. We need to pay more attention.
We have not tolerated cloudy water for many decades, but we continue to tolerate cloudy air. It’s because we don’t see it, even though we are aware of it, but a third of cases of childhood asthma in Barcelona are directly related to air pollution, according to a study by the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital in Barcelona. Therefore, the evidence is there, and we have to change course.
Yes To The Electric Car, But Not Alone
The purchase of an electric vehicle is not enough to curb environmental pollution. Although it is clearly essential, it also helps to reduce noise pollution, which is also important for well-being.
On the other hand, in addition to electric cars, there are other vehicles such as motorbikes and electric bicycles, which are important in cities such as Barcelona.
Based on the components alone, this change would also offer significant improvements in air quality. For example, the brake pads of the combustion car generate carcinogenic particulate residues. The electric car, on the other hand, minimizes the use of conventional brakes, because in this type of vehicle, the brakes in the engine itself are more important.
In a city, it is ideal to use public transport or to walk, but in this case, cities need to be designed for people, with green spaces to make it cleaner. So the electric car does contribute to the process, but more effort is needed.
Renewable Energies And Self Supply
As of today, renewables cannot yet replace fossil fuels, but the growth rate of photovoltaics, and to a lesser extent, thermal, is exponential. The adoption curve is immense. Wind energy also plays a very important role, so, in ten to fifteen years, Spain will undoubtedly be one of the world leaders in this sector.
Self supply will play an essential role here. These photovoltaic energy installations democratize energy production, and this is fundamental. It is normal and desirable that there are large energy companies involved in the production of renewables, but taking advantage of the pull of self supply so that private citizens can play a leading role in this issue will be key.
In the midst of the energy price crisis, the impact on consumers’ pockets is palpable. In this sense, energy should be as cheap as possible, and in Spain’s case, we will see how this will be in the coming years.
This will be achieved thanks to the production of renewables. Proof of this is that last February, with 61% of electricity produced by renewables, the price plummeted. It is therefore a revolution without doubt, and we must not forget that revolutions happen very quickly nowadays.
The Longed-For Interoperability
Even today, the charging process is still very complex. A single app that opens the door to all charging points would be ideal. Now there are many apps, some are used in one way, some in another, all depending on where you go. It gets very complicated.
For more experienced EV drivers, this is not a concern, as they already have their charging routines. But it is for new drivers. The agility and ease of establishing more uniform criteria for protocols and tariffs will simplify the process and help to encourage the drive towards electric mobility.
Let’s not forget that since electricity reaches the whole territory, it should be easier than putting a petrol tank underground. It is clear that there are certain energy operators for whom it is not in their interest to develop charging infrastructures. However, this should change for the sake of evolution and the environment.