(Image from EIA)
I’m not an environmentalist. Or a tree hugger. I barely switched off lights during Earth Hour, and my vehicle of choice is either Ford Everest, Land Rover Defender or Toyota Land Cruiser. Hardly recycled anything and a lot of stuff that I bought is either a wrapped plastic-based (read:carbon) or have significant amount of plastic. My only real ‘relationship’ with something related to nature and environment is (occasionally) watching National Geographic. I never planted anything on my own and long-distance journey is my favourite pastime (In fact, most of the time I actually looking for an excuse to drive, because for me it’s the journey that matters, not the destination). Don’t ask me about my annual energy consumption. I hardly count it anyway on any single day, let alone one full year. I haven’t bought any eco-friendly home products either. And I still can’t detached myself from looking for straw for drinking. Furthermore, I’m a meat-eater. Tried once to become vegan, but the meal was substandard (to say the least. Maybe I picked a wrong eatery).
Quite an extensive list, huh?
Having said that, I also hate waste. I hate it when someone just ‘forgot’ to switch off lights or fans when they’re not in use. I hate it when someone consume excessive water in the WC (Hello? Are you washing your hands or taking a shower??), or even worse, ‘forgot’ to turn off the faucet once done. I try to maximise my laundry load so that I could reduce my water and electricity consumption. And my spouse and friends know me well that I hate food wastage especially during buffet lunch or dinner (“If you don’t think you can finish it, don’t put it on your plate in the first place, goddamnit!”). And as much as I love long-distance driving, I still prefer to use public transportation (if and when available) or ride-sharing for a short-distance journey (the process of looking for available parking space and stuck in traffic jam for hours and hours are not really my to-do list).
Just a note, I love our planet. I love to leave it in a better condition for our future generations. And I wouldn’t mind consuming environmental-friendly products. And I love to be able to wake up in the morning not having to face something like this (No, I don’t live in Beijing. Just showing an example).
(Image from LWYang/Flickr)
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
Why is it that changing our habit is hard to do? Is it because of it is well, habit? Is it because we prefer the devil that we know? Or is it because of changing our habit will take a hit into our pocket?
Just like I said I love our planet, I believe there are million others share the same thought too (Elon Musk is obviously one of them. Jessica Alba is another). We pay less attention to Elon’s antics and focus more to his vision, his ideas and his enthusiasm either to save this planet or create a base at some other. Alba’s quest to find alternative of baby products leads her to start her own (The Honest Company) and creates a path towards a billion-dollar eco-friendly company (and multi-millionaire status).
And yet, EV just represent about 0.2% of worldwide sales in 2017 (according to Bloomberg/IEA report here). As much as a lot of awareness how EV could help lessen the negative impact towards our planet, albeit a good story on historical growth the market share is still negligible. EV still seems like a niche market, catered to only affluent few and less to mass-market. Yes, I’m fully aware the existence of i.e Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf, but if the number is the indicator, why we’re still stuck at 0.2%? Let’s not even started with The Honest Company. As big as they might be, they’re still nowhere compared to other giants like Unilever and Procter & Gamble.
Autonomous and Non-autonomous EV
Amid all the hype (or hoopla, depending on your POV), electric vehicle take up is still small as compared to internal combustible engine. We are still depending much on our fuel-guzzling (or at least carbon-based) vehicle although we knew how bad it is to our environment. And it goes without saying that everytime a new technology claims as better alternative comes into market, we have a tendency to ask ourselves ‘How much better?’. Will it be 10 times better? 20 times better? And what’s the catch?”. Same goes with EV, regardless whether it’s fully-electric, hybrid or plug-in, we will ask these similar questions. As for the questions mentioned above, I can’t answer how many times better, but I think I can answer some of the ‘what’s the catch?’ part.
Everytime I read the specification of newly-launched EV, the first thing that I look closely into is the range. How much range can it run on a single charge before I need to scramble to find recharging station or push my EV to one? It’s nice if you live in a city where the recharging stations are aplenty, but if you want to drive around say, Australia Outback, you may out of luck. As much as we want to save this planet, when anxiety kicks in, it goes without saying that we want to save ourselves first. And if you’re driving in a country where EVs are few and far between, the possibility of finding an electric charging station may be close to non-existent. So we just forgo our love of planet and continue with our love-hate relationship with OPEC countries (and their cabals). Hey, even if I got stranded at some backroad at 2 a.m. (due to running out of fuel), at least I can still buy and fill my jerry can, right? Don’t even make me started about the lack of spare-tire, since EV needs all the possible spaces to fit the batteries. At least Ford Everest still has spare-tire (I’m paranoid, that’s why).
And what about other technical specifications that we usually pay attention to? Well, what about torque and power, especially for pickup and semi-trailer trucks? With all the cargo load and the distance, will the batteries able to cover the distance as advertised (albeit with list of disclaimer) or is it pretty much a hit-or-miss scenario? In reality, how many batteries that we actually need to drag those trucks around, along with whatever their load might be, to cover hundred of miles of distance? Will they end up stuffing and dragging more batteries instead of cargo? At least when the diesel were used up, the truck will get lighter in weight and theoretically further reduce fuel consumption. Does the EV gets any bit lighter for every miles driven?
(Tesla Supercharger. Image from Tesla)
How many of us love Teslas (the vehicle, not the company)? Slick car isn’t it? If you have Tesla in your garage, the Supercharger stations are available for you. But if you EV of choice is say, Nissan Leaf, then you can forget about using it. You gotta stick either commercial charging station like SemaConnect or the ones at residential building. And how long would it take to fully-recharged from empty? For one, it depends on what kind of charging outlets available, which may ranges from 30 minutes to 20 hours. What if I’m in a hurry? Or having some kind of emergency? Not to mention that I still need to consider that if I opt for Fast Charging route, which until now, there’s still no standard plug for all EVs. Will I encounter same problem of standard if use fuel/carbon-based vehicle? Most probably, my only concern is what’s the price per gallon today. And how long will it takes for me to fill it up? 10 minutes? 15?
Green Eco-friendly Products
I used to shop around for some green, eco-friendly household products like detergent, fabric softener and few others (online and offline, at some hypermarket). And what that I found? Quite a number of those eco-friendly products are about 3-5 times more expensive that non-eco-friendly ones. Even if the price is not an issue, the options that available (at least to me) are quite limited. And I’ve yet to see private brands from a hypermarket that can be considered as eco-friendly. With the lack of options, significant price differences and less-than-stable economic condition, how many of us will convert to tree-hugger and how many will stick with whatever available in the market?
Sustainable Resources vs Household Economy
As I’ve explained in my relatively short paragraphs above, it’s not that we don’t want love or tried to live in a eco-friendly path, but rather, the lack of ‘support system’ and economic condition has created a situation where converting into environmentally-friendly has its own costs (and some are not cheap, relatively and figuratively). And it has created a chicken-or-egg scenario where consumer won’t demand those EVs or eco-friendly products if it’s not offered at a competitive price, but the manufacturer won’t offer them at competitive price if there’s no demand. We’re pretty much in a situation of so-called eyeball-to-eyeball with those manufacturers.
But who will blink first?