I want to talk about a subject that many people find themselves on one side or the other. Electric Vehicles (EV) versus (why is everything a battle?) Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicles. The subject of vehicle powertrain is a bit of a religious debate for many people. Instead of arguing one side or the other, I want to make a case for how the two technologies can live together with each being used for the best of its ability.
The internal combustion engine has been with us for nearly 150 years and has been used in automobiles for over a hundred years. Funny enough, the electric vehicle has also been around in various forms for over a hundred years. ICE vehicles have helped create the world around us as we know it. Cars, trucks, vans, semis and motorcycles have all played a huge role in the development of the world, as we know it.
Strong growth in EV sales over the past 5 years has seemingly created two camps:
- Those who want EV
- Those who want ICE (with a small group that wants both!)
A middle-ground seems to be completely lacking in discussions. Some EV enthusiasts think ICE vehicles should be banned from new production sooner than later. Some ICE enthusiasts fear that EV and batteries are being forced upon them. Until recently (2022), electric vehicles were mostly limited to models from Tesla. There were few other serious options. The vehicles from Tesla seemed to create a wedge between EV and ICE drivers.
With the growth of Tesla vehicle sales and the Tesla SuperCharging network, some people thought it would be funny to "ICE" the charging stations. This meant parking an ICE vehicle in a spot designated for EV charging. These instances have occurred everywhere, even in Germany where a Ford F-150 was towed after blocking a charging spot.
One thing is clear: EV and ICE owners love their vechicles
Instead of focusing on the differences, I would like to focus on how the two technologies can compliment each other. I think there are a lot of benefits to be found, if we only look for them. I hope to have an EV some day. I have a pre-order for a Rivian R1S that I might receive sometime in 2023. I have also owned a large SUV, an F150 and a sedan. Ever since I started seriously looking EVs and how one would change my driving style, I have paid more attention to what needs individual drivers have and how those needs can vary wildly.
At the start of the year, my family took a road trip from Colorado to Illinois. We were in an ICE sedan, but I used the opportunity to learn more about how we would achieve the same trip in an EV, having to charge instead of filling up with gas. Quite surprisingly we saw more Tesla on I70 in Kansas, than I would have expected to see.
The first thing that stood out to me on the drive was recognizing:
Our country is VERY different depending on where you live
That's right. As we drove for HOURS through Kansas I couldn't help but think that even with all the wind turbines we see out the window, Kansas may not be the most suitable place to own an EV. There is a need, or set of needs, that each person has for transportation, and hopefully there is an ideal vehicle that will fit those needs. I started thinking, because what else do you do on a 12+ hour drive? I ended up coming up with some benefits that hopefully, everyone will reap, as some drivers transition to EV.
- Benefit #1: More EV mean fewer vehicles in line for gas!
That's right. The more EV that come onto the roads, the fewer vehicles that will line up for gas stations. It may be a minimal benefit today, but this will only get better over time as more and more EV hit the roads. This affects all drivers, from work commuters to motorcyclists to construction vehicles.
- Benefit #2: More EV means less competition for oil.
This is a good thing! We know that fossil fuels are a finite supply here on Earth. Getting the petrolium resources used by those that need them is a benefit for everyone. Trucks towing large loads will be able to keep doing their work. Existing ICE vehicles will continue to find fuel readily available, while the overall demand decreases.
- Benefit #3: Early EV adopters will push the industry toward innovation and new discoveries
This is already happening, but the development of new technologies that can revolutionize how transportation works will only grow stronger as more EV are adopted. Just look at the competition that has hit the EV market where Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge have all announced EV Trucks to compete with the Tesla Cybertruck and Rivian R1T. Technology will only get better and help address issues that prevent adoption from more industries.
- Benefit #4: The electric grid may benefit from more EV vehicles charging at home
This is a stretch, but shifting charging times to the off-peak hours keeps the grid running without spikes and hopefully without the need for additional power generation capacity. The other grid benefit already witnessed is more robust grid systems, including battery vaults in homes (Tesla Powerwall) that can help offset demand at peak times or even augment the grid power in minor outages. Pushing development of the grid technology will benefit everyone.
- Benefit #5: Providing homes with power in the event of local power outages
The vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology that is starting to show up in many new EV designs can provide temporary power supply to a home when the vehicle is connected and charged. This can be a game changer for rural customers during power outages, but also benefits everyone connected to the grid with decreased demand for service, very similar to the lines at gas stations, noted above.
This is just a short summary of some of the ways that EV and ICE vehicles can co-exist without animosity or anger. There will always be those drivers that choose to behave in ways that are unbecoming. Bad drivers are on both sides of the equation. I just hope that everyone can best represent themselves as happy drivers, making the best out of their personal vehicle needs.