The ever-growing desire for electric vehicles (EV) has yielded a variety of companies looking to corner this area of the market. Last month, the gas station chain 7-Eleven announced their ambitious plans to welcome the influx of EVs by incorporating 500 charging stations throughout their US locations by the end of 2022.
The popularity of electric vehicles has seen a significant surge within the past decade. What started as a way to make a car more efficient and even stand out from the crowd has since become a status symbol for many individuals. Their growth can largely be attributed to Tesla, a company whose name is almost synonymous with both EVs and their eccentric CEO, Elon Musk. The company holds so much public desire that its EV, the Tesla Model 3, accounts for nearly half of all-electric vehicle sales in the United States.
The increase in EV popularity has led to competition amongst varying other manufacturing companies wanting to create their version to corner the growing market. This then leads to businesses all across the globe looking to also get in on the trend – and therefore profits – by installing electric charging stations. Furthermore, implementing additional charging stations can encourage more individuals to transition to electric vehicles as they now have easier access to them than ever before. This creates a cycle of supply in demand that will yield a future of even more technological advancements and the potential of an even more sustainable vehicle.
Recently, 7-Eleven announced their own plans to jump on board the growing EV trend by installing 500 EV charging stations throughout the country before the end of 2022. This marks a first for the company and will certainly lead to an increase of other gas stations following in a similar path.
The EV Surge
The growth of electric vehicles is seen not only in the United States but on a worldwide scale. In 2019, EV’s global sales outperformed that of previous years by reaching a record-breaking 2.1 million total sales. What may come as a surprise to some is that China has had some of the highest EV sales globally within the past few years. From 2016-2018, the country surpassed all others by over double the number of EV sales. This is welcoming news when taking into consideration the country’s enormous environmental footprint.
In the United States, one of the largest EV markets behind China, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the influx of electric vehicles has saved a combined 225 million gallons of gasoline in 2017 alone. Though the US has seen a significant uptick of individuals transitioning to electric-powered vehicles, much of the country doesn't have that option. This is mainly attributed to the higher upfront costs of EVs and the fact that some individuals simply don’t have reliable access to charging stations near them.
With the recent announcement of 7-Eleven to install more charging stations around the country, we can expect to see a surge in EV sales due to the growing accessibility and even market competition. Similar to what we saw with solar panels, as more companies adopt their version and the demand increases from the consumer side, competition will drive the price down and make the product more affordable.
We have already begun to see the effects of this with various EV models, such as the 2022 electric Mini Cooper SE, which has a starting price of $29,000. As technological advancements and charging station implementation increase, these prices have the potential to lower even more so in the future.
Assessing the Environmental Impacts
When analyzing various life-cycle assessments, the majority of waste and carbon dioxide emitted from EVs is done so during its manufacturing stage. In some cases, the manufacturing stage of some EVs can be even more carbon-intensive than gas cars. However, upon examining the entire life cycle of electric vehicles, they make up for this by emitting next to no emission throughout their use-stage.
These numbers can vary greatly depending on where the EVs are manufactured, how they are manufactured, and charging station discrepancies. That said, even when taking into consideration the highest potential of greenhouse gas emissions possible from cradle to grave, multiple peer-reviewed studies have found that EVs still have a lower overall environmental footprint than gasoline vehicles.
As with most things in life, there is nuance to this topic, and therefore room for improvement and growth. EVs have come a long way from where they were 10 years ago. We can only expect that with an increase in popularity and technological advancements, EVs will continue to improve their environmental footprint in the years to come.
With more and more companies such as 7-Eleven incorporating electric charging stations, we can expect to see a steady influx in the market as we make the shift toward a sustainable future. The positive outcomes that arise from this include a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and perhaps most importantly, the shift from reliance on fossil fuels.