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Are Electric Cars The Best Solution? – OpEd

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We have been observing the domestic usage of electric golf carts in the Prinkipo island Büyükada environment for the last 2-3 years. Electric carts wear out quickly, their batteries run out quickly, Chinese-made electric cars first came to the islands, they were worn out very quickly on the island slopes, then domestic small cheap production taxis and buses were used. These cars have a short life span, they have battery and charging problems, they have difficulties on slopes when the battery charge is low. The electrical energy required for electric cars is transported from the mainland by a submarine cable, it is not possible to build onshore wind and solar power plants on Büyükada because there is not enough land, there is not enough suitable wind. If the future wind and solar power plants are built on offshore platforms on the sea around Büyükada, then they can work in an environmentally friendly way.

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For almost more than a century, we have used internal combustion engine (ICE) driven gasoline or diesel fueled cars all over the world, nowadays electric cars are gradually becoming more prominent, but are electric cars the best solution? Here we are taking about commercial Electrical vehicles (EV) not simple golf carts. We shall review Tesla, BMW, VW, others. Yes they are the future, but what are their drawbacks, what problems they should overcome.

What are the advantages of electric cars? They do not produce exhaust gas, they do not affect the ambient air quality. Electric motors are more efficient, meaning less fuel costs. Electric cars are very easy to start and drive on the road. It’s safer. The engine is small. The service is very easy and cheap. It is possible to charge your car with the solar panel that you will install on the roof of your home and workplace. It is very suitable for short distance urban drive.

However, electric cars are still relatively expensive compared to old (ICE) motor cars, the batteries they use are heavy, the batteries used today require expensive special lithium mineral that are rare in nature, their supply is difficult. These difficulties will be overcome in time, but there is no quick solution from today to tomorrow.

Sedan compact passenger cars weigh an average of 1000kg, while electric cars weigh about 500kg more due to heavy batteries. Heavy electric cars rapidly erode the asphalt they go on, highways are being eroded rapidly, more roads- asphalt renewal requires for maintenance and repair, more expense is required.

How environmentally friendly are electric cars? The energy-generating power plants they use are as environmentally friendly as the fuels the use, so if they use the electricity produced in the coal-burning thermal power plant, it is not environment-friendly, if they use the electricity used in the natural gas-burning combined cycle power plant, it is not environment-friendly again. If they use the electricity produced in the nuclear power plant, the answer is different. It is necessary to know how the wastes of the nuclear power plant that produces this electricity are eliminated, disposed.

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The most stressful thing for the driver while driving an electric car is that the electric charge is not enough, that is, stopping with no energy on the road, because there are not enough charging stations on the roads at the moment, your battery power may run out at any moment, you can stay on the road. So they are suitable for short distance use in the city. It is not possible to go long distances with an electric car, you can go 500 km on average and 1000 km at most with a full charge, very optimistically. 1000 km is a long distance, but when the battery charge is near to exhaustion, you are worried about “I wonder if I can find a charging station soon”. In the future, there will be more frequent charging stations on the roads and this problem will disappear.

The charging time of electric cars is also a problem, you cannot charge energy in such a short time as you get gas, you have to wait at least 20-30 minutes, maybe more time for a full charge. The energy you buy is not cheap at all, the price of electricity today is quite high depending on the cost of fuel used in the power plant. natural gas and imported coal are now very expensive because of the Ukraine war.

Let’s come to the use of heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, this is a big problem in electric cars, you need to use electrical energy to heat the interior of the car in winter. There is no hot engine at your disposal, which is preheated and where you can use heat energy. The use of heating rapidly reduces the amount of battery charge, and the use of air conditioners in the summer also weakens the battery power. Those who drive electric cars have to use the heater in winter and the air conditioner in summer for a short time. In very cold and very hot climates, the battery uses a lot of energy for heating and cooling and runs out quickly.

Electric cars are not a perfect solution, let’s know their disadvantages, let’s make the necessary solutions, these cars are heavy, batteries may get lighter over time, but the weight problem will always remain, the heating and cooling problem will always be. There will always be distance problems, long battery charging times.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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