Electric vs. gas: Who will win?

_Keith Millahn-Lewis_, _Herald Contributor_

You’ve seen it on the news, read it in the papers, heard it from your friends. You see them in parking lots, your rich uncle just bought one and you might even be considering getting one for yourself. What am I talking about? The electric vehicle, otherwise known as the EV.  

Over the past few years, EV sales have been skyrocketing and it is no longer uncommon to see a Tesla on the road. In fact, it’s rare if you can go anywhere without seeing one. Earning more success every time Tesla launches a new vehicle, other companies are looking to get in on it. Almost every major vehicle manufacturer is beginning to produce its own EV. From the Chevy Bolt to the Mustang Mach-E and the Lotus Evija, manufacturers are covering every aspect of the vehicle market.  

So what does this all mean? Is the internal combustion engine doomed to the fate of the dinosaurs? Well, there is no definitive answer to that. However, I am going to say that while EVs may become the dominant mode of transportation, gas and diesel will never go away.  

Electric vehicles still have a few obstacles to overcome before becoming dominant. One of these is price. It is expensive for manufacturers to design and make these cars from scratch. They have to change a lot of their facilities or create entirely new factories to meet demand, and that price is passed on to the buyer.  

So just buy it used, right? If only it were that simple. Buying a used EV is probably the worst vehicle decision you could make right now. First, you probably don’t have a charger for it. Second, they are extremely expensive to repair when something goes wrong and you are not going to be able to bring it to your local mechanic. Finally, if someone is getting rid of one, that probably means it has high mileage and the battery has deteriorated.  

That being said, it is generally cheaper to buy a new car. These are the same problems most hybrids face as well — it is easier to scrap it than to fix it.  

The next major issue between gas and electric is the environmental impact. I am not going to go into excruciating detail, but we all know gas vehicles produce pollutants that are bad for the environment. An electric vehicle means you no longer produce those pollutants, thus it is environmentally friendly. At least that is what people think.  

In actuality, an electric vehicle is drawing power from your local power grid, which may or may not be environmentally friendly depending on how it is producing electricity. Additionally, electric vehicles contain many high capacity batteries, according to an article in The Guardian by Joey Gardiner.  

Not only do the batteries carry a risk of giving off toxic gases if damaged, but core ingredients such as lithium and cobalt are finite and extraction can lead to water pollution and depletion among other environmental consequences,” Gardiner said.   

Disposing of used or damaged batteries is a dangerous and possibly highly polluting procedure. 

Comparing impact and cost of vehicles is all well and good, but is that what really matters? For automotive enthusiasts or even just those who enjoy their cars and driving, an electric vehicle is like a saltine cracker compared to a three-course meal from a five star restaurant.  

Driving a vehicle is all about how it makes you feel, from the engine noise and rumble, to the speed and grip of a vehicle around a corner, all the way down to the smell of fueling up or fixing your car. Owning and driving a vehicle is a visceral experience, and EVs strip a lot of what makes it just that. Driving and owning becomes a numb, boring experience, simply done for travel. For some, this is enough; a vehicle is just a means of getting from point A to point B.  

However, just as the manual transmission still exists, so will the internal combustion engine. There is just something so alluring about the deep rumble of an American-made V-8, the whine of a supercharger and the cracks and pops of an exhaust. Combustion vehicles hold a special charm to them: a personality. Electric vehicles may be preferred by some, but I know they are not for me and they will never be for many others.