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The transport industry has been undergoing many revolutions due to various technological discoveries from the first fossil-fueled vehicles to modern planes. Currently, the electric vehicle technology is becoming a remarkable term in the industry as most manufacturers, environmentalists, government agencies, and other relevant stakeholders are struggling to conserve the environment by promoting and adopting fossil fuel emission mitigation strategies. According to Jeon, Yoo, and Choi (2012), although this technology is an alternative to conventional vehicles, it is still less accepted by consumers across the world even after governments incentivizing its use. Rolim, Gonçalves, Farias, and Rodrigues (2012) reiterate that alternative vehicle technologies such as electric cars, which are aimed at responding to the pressures of fossil fuel dependency, will have an adverse impact on driving and travel behaviors as well as the environment. Basically, people prefer using internal engine vehicles since they are tested and trusted; however, attention to the use of electric vehicles is increasing and will probably impact future generations. Eventually, acceptance of electric vehicles by transport sector consumers will have a substantial impact on many societal domains, including the environment, economy, and social life.
Environmental Effects of Electric Vehicles
The transport sector is currently a significant cause of increased environmental pollution due to emission of greenhouse gasses. According to Bova, Marrs, Goodwin, and Oliva (2010), conventional vehicles produce vast amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. Other volatile compounds emitted by conventional automobiles such as nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide are also attributed to the combustion of fossil fuels. All these air components result in smog, which is associated with the development of respiratory illnesses. Further, the gasses are known to be carcinogenic as they result in the tremendous suffering of the human population as a result of neoplasms. Van Essen and Kampman (2011) add that the emission of these gasses will significantly reduce as a result of societal acceptance and use of electric vehicles. In addition to inhalation of polluted air, toxins penetrate into human bodies through acid rain, which, in turn, contaminates the food people consume. Therefore, these adverse effects of greenhouse gasses attributed to the use of fossil fuels by the transport sector will substantially reduce once the human society accepts electric vehicles.
Evidence reveals that direct use of fossil fuels, including petrol and diesel, by most vehicles results in massive emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which contributes to global warming. The latter is likely to reduce as a result of electric vehicle technology. Bova et al. (2010) explain that from every gallon of gasoline that is combusted, about 20 pounds of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere. It means that trucks and cars alone produce more than 300 million tons of this gas every year. CO2 is one of greenhouse gasses that are responsible for global warming. In addition, its effects include restricting oxygen supply to the brain, contributing to cancer, and most importantly, causing respiratory problems. Any intervention that aims at reducing the emission of this gas will have a positive impact on reducing the menace of global warming. Since electric vehicles are more efficient due to the use of electricity, which is sometimes generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar energy, they are likely to result in significant reductions in CO2 emissions (Hanke, Hüelsmann, & Fornahl, 2014). Eventually, ever-rising atmospheric temperatures associated with global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions will reduce significantly.
Reduced Oil Price Volatility
Once the use of electric cars becomes a common phenomenon both in the United States and other countries across the world, overreliance of the transport sector on fossil fuels will reduce. As a result, the human society will experience reduced oil price fluctuations. For instance, New Yorkers purchase an average of 380,000 gallons of gasoline every year (“Are Electric Cars Good for Society?” 2017). However, introduction of electric cars could significantly reduce overreliance on fossil fuels, which include petrol and diesel, in favor of natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric power, and increasingly, renewables. Aastveit, Bjornland, and Thorsrud (2012) ascertain that oil prices across the world are volatile, with sudden changes having an immense negative impact on the global economy and especially on developed economies. Dane (2014) adds that transitioning from conventional fuel-powered vehicles to electric ones will minimize the need to import oil, which is associated with the reduction of oil price volatility exposure. Many countries across the planet have estimated how the electric vehicle technology will reduce their overreliance on oil fuels and the subsequent oil price volatilities. For instance, in 2012, the government of Chile estimated that 70,000 electric vehicles would reduce the consumption of diesel and petrol by 150 million and 380 million liters respectively (Dane, 2014). As a result, the country will suffer less from oil price volatility. Therefore, economies of such nations will experience fewer uncertainties associated with oil price fluctuations.
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Impact on Driving Behaviors
Most of the potential consequences of the use of electric vehicles on the driving behaviors have been established after a series of research studies. For instance, Rolim et al. (2012) conducted a study to examine satisfaction and adaptation of users with electric vehicles compared to other alternative vehicle technologies by interviewing some respondents. The interview was done on various aspects, including mobility patterns, charging routes, and other forms of driver behaviors. These subjects indicated that the primary reasons for purchasing electric vehicles were their economy and positive environmental impact (Rolim et al., 2012). As a result, it can be deduced that the society will increase the purchase of these vehicles in the future due to these reasons. Hence, vehicle purchasing patterns will tremendously change as people will start shifting from fossil fueled vehicles to electric ones.
Further, the use of electric vehicles will increase immediately after the successful adaptation of drivers, which will reshape the traveling behaviors in the society. Rolim et al. (2012) revealed that six months after the regular use of electric vehicles, drivers adapt well to their automobiles as some concerns surrounding their infrastructure or autonomy and functioning are rapidly overcome. The interviewed participants in the study by Rolim et al. (2012) indicated that the use of these vehicles significantly impacted their routines. For instance, they mentioned that they traveled and used different roads more than they did when driving internal combustion vehicles. Consequently, most of these drivers reported being less aggressive and speedy on the roads compared to when they were using fossil-fueled cars. Therefore, it is evident that the use of electric vehicles will have a positive impact on the society. For instance, overspeeding will become a less common occurrence, with a subsequent reduction of road accidents and deaths associated with it.
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Impact on Human Health
At the same time, users of these vehicles are more likely to develop health problems associated with exposure to electromagnetic fields. Moreno‐Torres, Lafoz, Blanco, and Arribas (2016) explain that the combination of short distances between the automobile and the driver and high currents increases exposure to strong electromagnetic fields. These fields have been found to have a major contribution to the development of conditions such as neurodegenerative and neoplastic disorders (Moreno‐Torres et al., 2016). Basically, the society will be expected to record a high number of cases of these illnesses, especially among regular electric cars users. As a result, a large part of the healthcare expenditure will be needed for treating debilitating conditions. Hence, these diseases will be a dangerous killer causing increased morbidity attributed to the use of electric vehicles. Further, many concerns have arisen due to safety issues of electric vehicles as a result of their silence. According to Van Essen and Kampman (2011), many groups of people, such as the disabled, small children, cyclists, and other pedestrians, are worried about silent electric automobiles. For instance, the lack of noise in moving cars poses a danger to the lives of blind pedestrians, who rely on vehicle sounds to make road judgments. Therefore, many pedestrians will lose lives and receive injuries since these vehicles are likely to increase the occurrence of accidents.
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Impact on Employment Opportunities
Any form of technology has a dramatic impact on the availability of jobs in the society. In case of the electric vehicle technology, jobs are likely to be created both in the energy and transport sector. Workers from different employment and educational backgrounds will be required to join the industry for manufacturing and handling issues related to electric vehicles. Hamilton (2011) explains that the industry will need scientists to conduct research investigations in the electric drive technology, manufacturing workers, who will be building automobiles and related accessories, and technicians to serve automotive maintenance and repair functions among others. Most of these employment opportunities will require people with specialized training and work experience in handling manufacturing and maintenance of electric vehicle technology (Hamilton, 2011). This demand will mean that schools will upgrade their curriculum to include information about the electric vehicle technology. As a result, the society will benefit by creating new jobs in universities concerned with the training of electric vehicle specialists.
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Similarly, other jobs will be created in the energy sector due to the demand for electric power by buyers and users of electric automobiles. Hamilton (2011) reiterates that the manufacturing and domestic energy sectors will have a significant contribution to the creation of jobs for many people in the society due to the potentially increased demand for charging stations and batteries for vehicle use. However, there will be a shift in manufacturing sectors since those companies that were initially manufacturing internal combustion engine cars are likely to shift to electric vehicle production (Hamilton, 2011). Similarly, Van Essen and Kampman (2011) explain that due to the potential adoption and increase in electric vehicle usage in the world, the demand for high amounts of electricity will benefit the society due to the creation of jobs in the energy industry. Therefore, the creation of ample job opportunities is a potential benefit of the electric vehicle technology once it is accepted by many people across the planet.
Electric vehicle technology is yet to gain momentum and substitute conventional transport, thus leading to substantial societal effects. Some of the effects associated with this technology include a positive impact on the reduction of air pollution and subsequently global warming. This problem will be reduced since electric automobiles do not emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses as well as toxic chemicals. Further, overreliance on oil will be minimized as a result of using electric vehicles instead of internal engine combustion ones. Eventually, oil price volatility exposure will be minimal. Although the vehicles are expensive to purchase, they are likely to expose the society to reduced costs of automobile operation and maintenance. Unfortunately, road accidents and associated problems, including deaths will increase. Besides, exposure to strong electromagnetic fields in electric vehicles will increase the risk of developing different types of cancers and neurodegenerative disorders, which will increase both morbidity and mortality rates. However, most communities will benefit from job opportunities that electric vehicles and energy industries will create.
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