(BPT) - Since electric vehicles (EVs) were reintroduced in the 1990s, interest in these more sustainable cars has continued to increase. In recent years, escalating environmental concerns and rising gas prices have further sparked that interest as drivers look for transportation alternatives.
“Battery electric vehicles have already proved that they can meet the needs of many in a wide range of uses in both urban and suburban settings,” says Matt DeLorenzo, author of “How to Buy an Affordable Electric Car: A Tightwads Guide to EV Ownership.” "Make no mistake, electrification of the automobile is here.”
New emerging technologies and innovations have made driving EVs easier than ever, offering drivers exciting ways to embrace the electrification of transportation, today, tomorrow and beyond. From futuristic vehicle and charging station designs to hyper-fast (350 kW) charging capabilities that offer the freedom of long-distance travel, here are a few reasons people are excited about EVs:
Paying for a charge can be easier than filling a tank of gas
Thanks to an innovative payment technology called Plug&Charge, owners of capable EVs can charge without ever reaching for their wallet, smartphone or bankcard — making charging a more seamless experience than using a gas pump.
After a brief online registration process, drivers with capable vehicles can automatically pay for charging by simply plugging in their Plug&Charge-capable EV at a public charging station offering this technology. The charger communicates with the vehicle to identify, authenticate, authorize and bill the customer’s registered account for the charging session.
Electrify America, the largest open fast-charging network in the U.S., was the first charging company to offer this technology to multiple automakers. Every Electrify America charger offers Plug&Charge to those capable EVs, in anticipation of more Plug&Charge capable vehicles in the future.
Futuristic vehicle designs offer fewer limitations
EVs can offer automotive engineers more freedom and flexibility when designing vehicles, resulting in sleeker and more futuristic designs. EVs, also referred to as battery electric vehicles (BEVs), have electric motors that are typically located closer to the wheels along with batteries that can create a flat modular space. This unique platform allows for a more creative use of space without having to design around gas engine architecture.
On the exterior, EVs do not need a center grille for cooling, and while some automakers have kept the look of the grille as an homage to nostalgic models, there are many possibilities for new design elements. Perhaps the most notable addition to EVs has been the popularization of “frunks.” With potential for more empty space underneath the hood of the car, some EVs have opted to offer extra cargo space by including both a front and rear trunk.
Another noteworthy feature of EVs is the ability for capable vehicles to upgrade and add features through over-the-air updates, similar to a smartphone. As of 2021, there were 55 different EV models on sale in the U.S., with current projections predicting over 100 available EV models by the end of 2024 — giving drivers more options for the look of their vehicle as they make the switch to electric.
Enhanced charging stations put the customer first
New EV battery technology and fast-charging capability instills confidence that drivers can travel long distances or around town with their EVs. With the fastest charging speeds available today — ultra-fast (150 kW) and hyper-fast (350 kW) — capable vehicles can charge in as little as 20 minutes at a 350kW Electrify America charger. To allow customers to maximize their time while charging, stations are typically located near retail establishments like malls and grocery stores, restaurants and financial centers, so drivers can complete other tasks while their vehicle charges.
While these kinds of stations remain a focus, charging networks are now exploring how to make the charging experience even more “human-centered” by adding comfort elements like customer lounges, valet parking and quick-service food. Electrify America’s new design concepts for the charging station of the future are expected to include several of these amenities.
Better-performing and more cost-efficient vehicles
EVs have some real power on the road. Unlike gas-powered cars, EVs produce peak torque from a standstill — and with the battery pack positioned in the center of most EVs, it lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity, providing better handling.
EVs can also require less routine maintenance than gas-powered cars, as they do not require oil changes — and thanks to regenerative braking, EV owners may not need their cars’ brakes replaced as often. Plus, the initial cost of EVs should also be lower over time as their unique parts — batteries, chips, electric motors, sensors — become more generic and accessible to everyone.
Charging backed 100% by renewable energy
One big reason to switch to an EV is the environmental impact. Research shows that an EV is typically responsible for lower levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than the average new gasoline car.
While EVs do not produce tailpipe emissions, some carbon pollution is produced when generating electricity to power the vehicles, which can be mitigated by integrating renewable energy sources like solar and wind into the power source for charging stations.
Electrify America’s charging network is already backed by 100% renewable energy through the purchase of renewable energy credits. To reinforce that commitment to a net zero carbon footprint, the company is building a solar farm that will help offset the energy currently delivered to customers annually — giving drivers of emissions-free electric vehicles the reassurance that their charges are more sustainable.
Increasing EV adoption depends, in part, on technology advancements that not only make EVs more eye-catching and fun to drive, but more practical for everyday use. Whether it’s simplified charging through easy payment, station design that puts the customer first or renewable energy that powers the vehicles, the future of transportation is already here and will only get more exciting down the road.