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June 24, 2014

Electric Cars: Do They Make Sense?

Curiosity and desire have led man to the peak of material progress. Discontent has always prompted him to change his environments and living conditions. Change is fundamental law of life for no change no progress. Electric cars is not a new concept or invention. Electric cars were first made in the early decades of twentieth century and they were very popular and economical then, because gas was very expensive, but as the prices of gas went down, people were no more interested in electric cars.
Pollution is by far the most rapidly growing problem of modern technological society. Pollution implies in addition of release of such substances in such concentrations in the environment, which tend to deteriorate the use to which such components of the eco-system are part to, and which tend to impair the normal physiological and biological systems of the associated biota including men. As air and environmental pollution is one of the greatest concerns of modern world, electric cars started to become popular again.
     The subject of the Electric cars is broad, but the area of which this paper will delve into, is the pros and cons of using electric cars, and are electric cars feasible for the present era? The research will also deal with the environmental issues of using electric cars, as an aid to lessen the pollution of our present over-polluted world.  
The study will be a quantitative analysis of data, which determine the feasibility of electric cars. It will use in-person interviews to gather data for the feasibility of electric cars in today’s world.
The study will use the quantitative methodology for this study. A special questionnaire is prepared to gather data through in-person interviews. The method of in-person interviews is chosen because the sample size is small and in-person interviews provide the surety of reliability and authenticity of the data.

Background

There is a debate going on, that whether electric cars make any sense or not. Electric cars and Hybrid-electric cars are the focal point of attention to all environment buffs (Cunningham and Mary, 2002). They consider it the cleanest means of transportation in today’s polluted world. J. D. Power and Associates has conducted a survey, “ 2004 Consumer Acceptance of Alternative Powertrains study”, which revealed,
“The attitudes and opinions about economics, technology, and the environment held by owners of hybrid-electric cars distinguish them from the other groups. Issues on which the owners of hybrid-electric cars hold extreme positions are: interest in helping reduce vehicle pollution, willingness to pay extra for "green" products, and thinking of oneself as an avid recycler. Owners of hybrid-electric cars also have the most extreme expectations that fuel prices will be higher in the future” (Murray, 2004).
This study sums up that, “The value, familiarity, and low cost of the gasoline engine are challenges to the wide acceptance by consumers of any alternative”.
Although Electric powered cars are claimed to give off zero pollution, it can only be used for a distance of 50 miles, after which it is necessary to recharge the car, which takes 7 to 12 hours. This recharging also caused 20 percent of pollution as compared to gasoline vehicles. Thus electric cars only give 0 pollution while running, otherwise they too cause pollution (Lawrence, Byron and Christopher, 2004).  
Noise pollution is a chronic problem; prevalent mostly due to vehicles, with varied effects on health-on ears, cardio-vascular system, respiratory tract etc. it is a universal annoyance and thereby has a profound impact on psychological behavior.  Electric cars have the ability to reduce this problem, as they are significantly quiet in running (Wrisberg, 2002). But this is also a disadvantage as electric cars are almost undetected and thus become a potential hazard for pedestrians.
Hybrid electric cars are neither helps to save money (Toups) nor they are as fuel efficient as advertised. Pete Blackshaw has describe his experience about Hybrid-electric cars as,
Don't drive fast. Check the tires. Careful on hills. Don't drive fast. No quick starts. No short trips. Turn off air conditioner. Use cruise control. Don't drive fast. Don't use the stereo. Ignore the meter, focus on the actual tank! Read the manual! Wait for 5,000 miles. No speeding. Wait for 10,000 miles. No, 15,000 miles. … I now feel smarter and wiser. But not terribly satisfied. I've tried just about everyone of those tactics, with little success. Perhaps I just picked the wrong hybrid" (Murray, 2004).
The current disadvantages of using electric or hybrid-electric cars may be eliminated in future; but at present, imposing these cars on people is not an ethical issue, which might have unethical results.

Purpose Of The Study

The factors of general environment like climate, geography, geology, and hydrology of a human habitat have profound and direct influence on the health and well being of the residents often independent of socio-economic conditions. In technologically and economically advanced world people are so lost in material comforts and enjoyments that they little reflect on hazards of environments. The biological effects of various forms of physical and chemical pollution of environments and psycho-social effects of living and working conditions associated with environment pollution pose serious health problems, whose importance and gravity they do not fully realize today. Man is an essential part of the highly complex web of living organisms, which we can call biosphere and, therefore harm done to any part of biosphere, would reflect on human welfare.
 The major purpose of this study is to identify whether electric cars and hybrid-electric cars make sense in today’s world, what are the advantages and disadvantages of using these cars, and does the use of these cars is an ethical issue or not? In this study, I attempt to show that there are few advantages but several disadvantages of using electric cars; I set out to show in the study that the electric cars maybe the cars of future, but in their present condition, they do not make much sense.  

Sample

The chosen sample for this study is consists of 4 students of Michigan University. They all are white Americans with average age of 24 years.

Method

In normal circumstances, Web-based surveys are the best mean of collecting data; “there is no other method of collecting survey data that offers so much potential for so little cost as Web surveys" (Dillman, 2000; p.400), but as already discussed, I have used the method of in-person interview to gather the data, because of two reasons. First, the sample size is very small; Second, I think that, in-person interview is much more reliable and authentic then telephone interview or web-based survey. 
Questionnaire
Q1. Introduce yourself
Q2. Have you heard about the electric cars?
Q3. What is your personal opinion about electric cars?
Q4. Have you ever thought of buying an electric car? Give reasons for your answer
Q5. Are you concerned about the environment?
Q6. Do you believe that electric cars are good for environment?
Q7. Do you think that using an electric car is an ethical thing to do?
Q8. Do you believe people should get a tax relief if they buy electric cars?
Interview with Henry Gates
A.1 “I am Henry Gates from Michigan University, I am a graduate student doing major in software engineering”.
A.2 “yes a little bit”.
A.3 “well I think it’s the car of future”.
A.4 “ not seriously. I have heard that it’s useless for more than fifty miles distance and you have to recharge it after every fifty miles”.
A5. “Yes, I think, I am”.
A6. “Well! Maybe they are good for environment, but I am not very sure about it”.
A7. “If these cars are really that pollution free, then maybe it’s an ethical thing, but still you have to consider several factors like are they affordable, and are they really as pollution-free and clean as advertised”.
A8. If these cars are really good for environment, then government has to encourage people to buy them. Yes I think giving tax relief is a good idea”.
Interviewer: “Thank you Mr. Gates”.
Gates: “Thank you”.
Interview with Elizabeth Brown
A1. “I am Elizabeth Brown doing Masters in Literature from Michigan University”.
A2. “Yes I read a lot about it”.
A3. “Well! I like the idea, as it helps us to reduce environment pollution but I still think that these cars are pre-mature yet. Maybe in few years we really have 0 pollution electric cars which are also feasible to drive”
A4. “ I have done some research about it and then dropped the idea of buying it. You know, it won’t give you more than 50 miles ride and after that it needs 7- 8 hours for recharging. This recharging also gives off 20 percent environment pollution as compared to regular car. Maybe Hybrid-electric cars are a bit better as they use both electricity and gasoline, but they are too expensive”.
A5. Yes, I am very much concerned about environment. I think nothing can harm the world more seriously”.
A6. “ In a way, yes, but they have other disadvantages”.
A7. “ If electric cars are really something which is advertised, I am agree with the statement, but you see, electric cars are not 100 percent pollution free, then why should one buy an improper or expansive car, which does not serve any purpose”?
A8. “ Well! It does not serve the purpose. The foremost and important thing is making reliable cars then people do not need any external motivation to buy it”.
Interviewer: “Thank you Ms. Brown”.
Brown: “Thank you”.
Interview with Annie Fletcher
A1. “I am Annie Fletcher, and I am a graduate student of Archeology in Michigan University”.
A2. “Yes, I have heard a great deal about it”.
A3. “ The aim of science is to reduce human sufferings and pains. It has widened the horizons of human knowledge. History of our civilization is the record of constant human efforts to make human life more comfortable, pleasant, beautiful and easier. Electric cars is also one of such inventions of men which has come to make our life easier but it is still in the process of making and maybe we’ll see it as a perfect means of transportation in near future”.
A4. “Yes, then I have searched and read the material about it and then dropped the idea. Electric power car is not feasible as it only covers a short distance and then needs a recharge while hybrid-electric cars are too expansive”.
A5. “I am an student of archeology, I have read about different civilizations, which came, flourish and then collapsed. I love our world, and want to make it more beautiful and least venomous place to live. So I think I am very much concerned about environment”.
A6. “Yes, the concept of electric cars are good for environment, but electric cars, in their present condition, are not”.
A7.” Maybe, after all if someone buys an electric after knowing all its disadvantages and still prefer to drive electric car, then he or she is doing a service for the society, which is 100 percent an ethical thing to do”.
A8. “People cannot be motivated by giving tax relief only. If the product is good, they will use it, otherwise it’s not possible for government to encourage people for buying a useless thing”.
Interviewer: “Thank you Ms. Fletcher”.
Fletcher: “Thank you”.
Interview with Robert Davenport

A1. “I am Robert Davenport, I am doing my masters in Statistics from Michigan University”.
A2. “ Yes, I have heard and read about it”.
A3. “ When I first heard about it, I liked the idea, so I started reading about it. Now I think, it’s a great idea and future invention which will take few more years to reap perfectly”.
A4. “ Yes, in the beginning I am very much enthusiastic about buying an electric car myself, but when I have identified that there are still several flaws in these cars, I have dropped the idea”.
A5.  “Yes, I am very much concerned about environment”.
A6. “ I believe that the concept of electric cars are good for environment. Electric cars, according to my opinion, are still not prepared for the market”.
A7. “If a person continuously using it by knowing all its flaws then I think he or she is doing a service to the community, and in that case, yes it’s an ethical thing”.
A8. Yes, if government want to encourage electric cars, but I still insist that electric cars are not completely suitable for the market yet”.
Interviewer: “Thank you Ms. Davenport”.
Davenport: “Thank you”.
Conclusion
People consider using electric cars, especially because of the rapid increase in the environment pollution. It has been said that electric cars gives off 0 environment pollution. But are electric cars suitable and make sense in today’s world? In this report we have discussed some advantages and disadvantages of electric cars and hybrid electric cars and ask some questions about the feasibility of electric car in our world. All of the persons questioned, are against the use of electric cars in present condition. They think that maybe in future electric car becomes the preferred means of transportation but at present it is in the process of making and hence cannot be recommended as a feasible means of transportation.
We have deduced the following results from our research and discussion:
·         Electric cars are not feasible, as it needs recharge after every fifty miles
·         Recharging take 7to 12 hours
·         Although electric cars gives off 0 environment pollution while running but it gives off 20 percent environment pollution, as compared to gasoline automobiles, while recharging. Thus it cannot be said as 100 percent pollution free vehicle
·         Hybrid-electric cars are much feasible as it uses both batteries and gasoline to run. It does not need recharge after every fifty miles, gives off less pollution and are economical to use but it is very expansive and so most of the people cannot afford it in the first place.
·         Hybrid-electric cars are not as fuel efficient as advertised
·         It does not make much sense economically or environmentally to install Powertrain system in a normal car (Isidore, 2004) 
Thus, it can be concluded that electric cars might be used in near future as a preferred means of transportation, but at present it is not feasible to drive an electric car.



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