Electric versus gas: which cars make more sense?

Whether you see the change from gas to battery as a strategy for better climate health or you’re drooling over the super-sleek Tesla, electric cars are profoundly changing the auto landscape.

Let’s take a look at some of the arguments on both sides of the gas-versus-battery debate.

Electric cars all the way.

fossil fuel use is reduced

Electric cars don’t burn fuel and therefore there are no emissions.

Of course, fuel is used to create the electricity to recharge the battery. But, according to the website produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists, “In the United States, battery electric cars charged off the dirtiest coal-dominated grid still produce less pollution than their gasoline-powered counterparts.”

Read more here: How Do Battery Electric Cars Work? (UCS)

simple technology could mean fewer repairs and less maintenance

No oil changes needed, and no expensive tailpipes and exhaust systems to replace.

There are no flywheels, no transmissions. Actually, gas-powered cars had more than 2,000 moving parts, while EVs have about 20.

government subsidies help–a lot

From the energy.gov website:

The federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax credit is for $2,500 to $7,500 per new EV purchased for use in the U.S.

This tax credit will be available until 200,000 qualified EVs have been sold in the United States by each manufacturer, at which point the credit begins to phase out for that manufacturer.

Depending on where you live, you may also be eligible for EV incentives from your state, city, or utility. Monetary and non-monetary incentives may include additional tax credits, vehicle or infrastructure rebates or vouchers, vehicle registration fee reductions, loans, special low-cost charging rates, and high-occupancy vehicle lane exemptions.

performance and price

EVs are screaming fast.

They have more zip because motion doesn’t need to be converted (to rotational motion) or evened out (motion of pistons), as it does in an IC engine (Geek out on EVs here).

And, the Chevrolet Bolt has a competitive price (mid-30’s) along with Tesla 3’s basic model (starting at 36K).

Internal combustion engines aren’t dinosaurs just yet.


The Chevrolet Bolt is considered the affordable entry to EV-ownership, yet at a mid-30,000 range it doesn’t feel like a budget purchase. As long as similarly sized gas-powered cars are available at nearly half the price of EVs, consumers may be slow to change.

the China reality

How do you feel about Tesla manufacturing its cars in a country known for human rights abuse?

China is buying up litium and cobalt worldwide as the government pushes to lead the industry within its borders. For example, last year, China bought a majority stake in Congo’s biggest cobalt mine for more than $2.5 billion.

And, China made up about about half of all sales of EV cars last year, and plans to drive that number even higher in the future. They’re motivated to reduce their epoch air pollution problems as well as to dominate an industry they haven’t had much success (gas powered cars).

when (U.S.) government subsidies end, buyers may need to pay more

Government support will phase out as companies reach benchmark sales figures.

The L.A. Times reports Tesla buyers have qualified for about $284 million in federal tax incentives and collected more than $38 million in California rebates.

Read more here: Elon Musk’s growing empire fueled by government subsidies (LA Times)

inefficiency of electric-powered cars

According to the Wall Street Journal (linked below), if batteries cost $270 per KWH (measure of energy output, and the best batteries can produce right now) then oil would have to cost more than $300 a barrel to make the battery-operated car a reasonable choice.

Oil’s around $60/barrel right now. Historically, the highest prices for oil have been around $140/barrel.

cobalt and lithium demand

Cobalt and lithium demand is driving mining operations, which could mean a supply will be available for increased production of EV batteries. But supply chain is critical to production so this will be an ongoing issue.

Electric Cars Are the Future? Not So Fast (WSJ)

Back to the News Made Simple article here.

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