THIS refers to the article ‘Benefiting from electric vehicles’ (B&F, Sept 11), which quoted from many seemingly authoritative sources having a diverse view of the quantum of electric vehicle (EV) market share in the transpor-tation sector in the years to come. The main concern, however, seemed to be about how the oil prices may face an impact as more and more people decided to switch to EVs.
The article had practically little to say about the environmental issues arising out of continued increase in vehicles based on fossil fuels. Admittedly, if the batteries of EVs are to be charged by conventionally produced electricity using fossil fuel, the environmental advantage for the global climate is not much.
There is an economic advantage to the end user as cost per kilometre mobility is considerably lower for EVs than internal combustion engines. The charging stations should be using renewable energy as far as possible. In Pakistan, we should start with smaller vehicles, like two-wheeler e-bikes and three-wheeler rickshaws along with some small cars.
As the trend of EVs is gathering momentum in China, Europe and North America, the consumers are concerned about the range of travel they may undertake on a full charge of their car’s battery.
With continued research, advances have been made to increase the range. The key issue is the energy density of the battery in use and the time required to recharge the battery. At selected charging stations, fast charging is available, but that is costlier. Also, remember that a battery that can store more charge (kwh) is going to be bulkier.
For comparing the cost effectiveness of conventional cars and EVs, one would need to calculate the savings on fuel and maintenance, favouring EVs. The conventional cars are currently considerably cheaper, but that is partly because the battery of an EV is quite expensive. As the market share of EVs grows, so will be the demand for lithium, which by no means is in infinite supply.
One idea being explored and tried is aluminium-ion batteries. An atom of aluminium is about four times heavier than lithium, but it is more abundant than lithium and can transfer more electrons so that the energy density of an aluminium-ion battery would be only slightly less than that of a lithium battery.
For a variety of valid, logical reasons, switching our mode of transportation to EVs in Pakistan sounds like a good investment that we should really make.
Dr S. Arif Kazmi
Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2023