Electric Vehicles: Why Aren’t The Options More Diverse?

December 17, 2016


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For many people, electric vehicles are the future. Tesla and a handful of other companies have made great progress in the last few years, and we’re seeing countries across the world install charging points to accommodate the expected influx.

However, the vehicle’s themselves don’t be to diverse. Few of the EVs, if any, stray from the model set out by Tesla (or the Nissan Leaf). Family cars, saloons and other traditional, 4-door options.

Yet, if the technology is truly meant to take off, it needs to meet the demands of a broader range of motorists. So, just why aren’t these products more diverse?

Obscure Companies Are Taking The Lead

The most notable company for EVs is Tesla – a firm that sprung up specifically for this purpose. The notion that a dedicated business can lead the way, while long standing manufacturers struggle to change, would suggest that very few companies are even bothering to push the technology.

electric vehicles

Yet the fact is that, in some cases, there are more adventurous designs being built – just not by recognised companies. While many people still assume that supercars are the domain of the internal combustion engine, there are, in fact, a number of companies making purely electric hypercars:

  • The Toroidon 1MW, with over 1,300 brake horsepower.
  • Nio’s NextEV, which can hit 196 mph.
  • The Rimac Concept One, rumoured to be able to reach 200 mph.

Of course, none of these names have any major resonance. This is because many traditional manufacturers are still clinging to older methods. While a few are experimenting with battery powered options, big names like Ferrari and McLaren are still associated with fossil fuels.

There’s Still Plenty Of Old Tech

While people like to think of EVs as an all-new alternative, much of the technology is actually still the same. Yet this only makes it surprising to consider that major manufacturers weren’t quicker to adopt or experiment with the possibilities.

Aside from the engine, what else changes? Aside from the gears and anything directly connected to the motor itself, these vehicles still require four wheels. This means that that various additional factors, such as the wheel and tire size, aerodynamics, wheelbase, suspension system and weight distribution still add to the overall experience. Traditional automotive producers have decades of experience in these fields, especially when it comes to making a diverse range of products, so why not make the final leap with the engine type?

Little Sports Involvement

Similarly, there’s little involvement from the motorsports community to push electric technology. Many large car companies, whether it’s car manufacturers, tire companies are other specialist organisations, actively involve themselves in motorsports. It’s an opportunity to improve their technology and showcase their brand. Yet the world’s most popular sports, such as Formula 1, are all based on combustion engines.

The one motorsport that does cater to EVs – Formula E – has an arguably mixed reception. The vehicles used in these events – the Spark Renault SRT-01 E – are restricted to 140 mph. Considering that Formula 1 cars have been known to reach speeds in excess of 200 mph, electric technology looks much weaker, in comparison at least, then it actually is.

Range Anxiety

Of course, range anxiety continues to be a major deterrent for EV adoption and this same factor might also be causing problems with making new EV solutions.

electric vehicles

For this reason, then, it’s clear to see why few people may want to design a 4×4 EV for offroad use. It’s hard to find a charging station in the middle of a forest. Yet, at the same time, a lot of this range anxiety is exactly that: anxiety. The Tesla Model S can reach around 260 miles, yet the average American drives around 37 miles a day.

Do We Rely On Oil?

Let’s address the biggest issue: cars use oil. One of the biggest benefits of electric vehicles is that they do not require this limited resource. Yet, while wars are fought over oil deposits, harming both the people involved and the wider environment, electric vehicles aren’t being adopted en masse. Why?

One of the biggest issues is the stiff resistance by the oil industry, as petrol and diesel cars are big sorts of revenue for them. Whether it’s politically, financially or through other means, oil companies are actively imposing the development of electric cars.

Given their close ties to the automotive industry, it’s easy to see why many manufacturers don’t want to risk making this leap just yet. Even one of the most popular EV companies, Tesla, struggles to make a profit and a lot of this is due to the resistance of the oil industry. The fact is that cars don’t rely on oil – oil relies on cars.

Is It Shifting?

Regardless of these issues, the popularity of EVs is still on the rise. Like any technology trend, the popularity of a few models will help encourage other companies. Just like how Apple popularised the smartphone, so too will the likes of Tesla lead the way for electric vehicles.

This is perhaps even more important in the wake of the recent diesel scandals. Public trust for diesel emissions has dropped rapidly and countries such as Germany and Norway are pushing to ban the sale of non-electric cars within just a few decades.

electric vehicles

For many people, it is generally accepted that electric cars are the future, with smart connectivity that fits our high-tech lifestyle. However, like many forms of technology, they only truly become popular once they are widely adopted, resulting in some very early hesitation.

It is this challenge that leads back to the issue of diversity. Right now, many EVs are focused on saloons and other traditional 4-seater city cars. While there are some niche companies making electric supercars – as well as buses and lorries, even – the technology still needs to establish itself somewhere within the automotive landscape.

Giles Kirkland is a car enthusiast that loves exploring the new possibilities that modern technology can bring. When he’s not discussing the latest technology, he works for Oponeo as a mechanic.


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