Could Polluting Cars Be Behind Us?

"Imagine if you could simply plug in your car at night, much like plugging in your phone, and in the morning find its fully charged and ready to drive."

Worldwide, Tesla has found ways to make their car models more affordable to the general public to move the 21st century energy transition forward. Imagine if you could simply plug in your car at night, much like plugging in your phone, and in the morning find its fully charged and ready to drive. Next, imagine if you never had to pay for gasoline again. Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, has made this vision a reality for us. Tesla’s first line of cars, Model X and Model S, were very expensive and out of reach financially for most Americans. Aware of this problem, Tesla engineers and designers have created a new model, available late next year. Model 3 will still be on the expensive side in the car market, but will be in fiscal range for many more people.

This new model generated over 250,000 orders in just a few days and has reached almost half a million orders. Making the car about as expensive as the average car made it instantly better than the average car because of the attractive notion of never having to pay for gasoline. Tesla has made this car widely affordable, but it’s taken some risky decisions to get it there. To make half a million electric cars annually they need a massive multi-billion-dollar factory, which they’re currently building outside of Reno, Nevada. This factory will produce the batteries that allow them to make the car so cheap. Large scale manufacturing could allow them to reduce the costs of its batteries by 30 percent.

Electric cars were nowhere to be found in the 20th century, with abundant oil and a lack of electric vehicle technology. With a new understanding of climate change, air pollution, and a need for an energy transition, electric vehicles have resurfaced for the first time in a century in the world market. Tesla has become the brand name for 21st century electric vehicles, despite efforts by other car manufacturers like GM and Nissan to make a popular electric vehicle. Though we have yet to see the Model 3 widely distributed, we can trust that they will be everywhere on the road by late 2018, with nearly half a million orders already. We can now realistically imagine a world where people aren’t polluting behind them as they travel by land. Next, we have to focus on making the electricity used for Tesla cars is from a renewable source, otherwise electric cars aren’t that much better than their gas-guzzling cousins.


1. Department of Energy, “The History of the Electric Car”, September 15, 2014
2. Ebbert, C., & Rodrigues, A, “The Success of Tesla’s Model 3 Goes Far Beyond Its Affordability”, April 6, 2016
3. Kiley, D., “Debt Debacle: Why the Average U.S. Household Can’t Afford The Average New Vehicle” Forbes


Cashel Stewart is a senior at the University of Vermont studying Environmental Studies concentrating in sustainable transportation planning.
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