Electric cars cannot replace gasoline cars easily in Hong Kong

In recent years, electric cars have entered the vehicle market. The distinctive feature of this innovation is the consumption of a new form of fuel. An electric car is powered by an electric motor with electrical energy stored in its car battery. The car has a reputation on its environmental friendly performance due to the reduction of carbon dioxide emission. However, this is not the whole story. High expenditure and insufficient of charging facilities are the two main reasons that make electric cars less able to replace gasoline cars easily in Hong Kong.

 First, high expenditure reduces the competitiveness of electric cars. “When compared to other countries, the number of electric cars in Hong Kong isn’t too small. Many countries are facing a similar situation, and the key factor is that the price of a car is too high,” K.T. Chau said, a Hong Kong professor (Grace Tsoi, 2011, para.10). An electric car is more expensive than a gasoline car normally. The most substantial factor resulting to high expenditure is attributed to a lithium battery. According to an article written by Ramsey (2010), almost half of the cost of an electric car is came from the high production cost of a car battery (para.1). It results from the rarity of lithium. Furthermore, low durability of battery increases the burden of using an electric car. In fact, the lifetime of a lithium battery is around two to three years (Fuhs, 2009, p.118). Car owners will have to spend a huge amount of money in replacing those expensive batteries frequently in the future. The financial burden of using an electric car increasing in long run reduces the desire of people to purchase an electric car. Apart from the price of an electric car, high repairing cost is a subsequent puzzle. The repairing cost of an electric car is far higher than that of a gasoline car owing to the lack of specific maintenance labor force in Hong Kong. There are few technicians who can be specialized in repairing such a new automobile (CarsDirect, 2012, para.7). The technologies applied in an electric car are quite different from that in traditional gasoline car. For example, the engine structures between electric cars and gasoline cars are totally different. With less supply of labor force on repairing this advanced machinery design, the repairing cost rises inevitably. Therefore, the competitiveness of electric cars is reduced by three factors above.

Second, insufficient of charging facilities lowers the demand of driving an electric car. Charging time of an electric car is still longer than the filling time of a gasoline car. CLP Power Hong Kong Limited stated that an electric car need to take about eight to ten hours for a complete charging (2013). On the contrary, a gasoline car only takes about five to fifteen minutes for refilling. Such a long charging time cannot keep pace with our busy city. Moreover, the lack of charging stations causes inconvenience. Over 70% of the filling stations in Hong Kong is gasoline stations, but only less than 30% is charging stations for electric cars (HK Electric, 2013). The number of charging facilities cannot meet the requirement of our Hong Kong citizens. The insufficient information about the location of charging stations is another perspective. Those new charging stations have been built in recent years, but the relative information about the use and locations of these charging facilities is still inadequate. Without the ideas of how to use and where to charge, citizens find it difficult to drive an electric car, and therefore driving an electric car becomes unwelcome among Hong Kong people.

Some might claim that driving an electric car is more environmental friendly than driving a gasoline car. Obviously, driving an electric car can reduce the emission of carbon dioxide by 45% so that the roadside air pollution in Hong Kong can be reduced in a certain extent (CLP, 2013). However, it pollutes the environment in another ways. In fact, the source of electricity used to charge the electric cars can show the pollution come from electric cars. In Hong Kong, most of the charging stations is powered by power stations which generate energy by burning fossil fuels, such as oil and coal. Renewable energy is not the main source of energy. In addition, a research has shown that there is an increase in electricity demand among 60% of electric car users (World Nuclear Association, 2013). With the increase in electricity demand and unrenewable energy source charging, driving an electric car is surely not so green. What’s more, the consumption of energy in manufacturing a car battery produces higher emission of carbon dioxide, and it is more serious than that of a gasoline car. Although an electric car would not emit any carbon dioxide during driving, it did while its batteries were producing. What made the situation becoming more overwhelming is the frequent replacement of batteries. A study found that an electric car would produce 23.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime, compared with 24 tonnes for a gasoline car (Ed Morrissey, 2011, para.4). The frequent replacement of batteries encourages the emission of carbon dioxide during manufacturing process. Besides, there is a hiding story. Because of the lead inside the batteries, the dispose of batteries increases the toxicity of our environment and brings harm to living things (Brian Clark Howard, 2011, para.7). Hence, the use of electric cars isn’t absolutely green.

In conclusion, high expenditure and insufficient of charging facilities make electric cars less able to replace gasoline cars easily and the use of an electric car isn’t perfectly green. We should figure out the dark side of electric cars even they have reputations on energy efficiency, quiet and smooth driving or modern style. It is necessary to tackle the problems above so as to make electric cars be more popular and environmental friendly. I believe the new generation of electric cars with advanced engine, use of renewable energy charging source, and lifetime extension of car batteries can help improving the above dilemmas and promoting green driving in the coming future.

References

CarsDirect (2012, February 10). Electric Car Motors, Parts, Repairs and Costs. Retrieved November 25, 2013, from http://www.carsdirect.com/green-cars/electric-car-motors-7-common-problems

CLP Power Hong Kong Limited. (2013). About EV. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from https://www.clponline.com.hk/EV/Pages/AboutEV_Benefits.aspx

CLP Power Hong Kong Limited. (2013). Charging System. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from https://www.clponline.com.hk/EV/Pages/ChargingSystem_ChargingMethods.aspx?lang=EN

Fuhs, A.E. (2009). Hybrid vehicles and the future of personal transportation. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Howard, B.C. (2011, January 20). 8 Reasons Why Fear over Hybrid and Electric Car Batteries Is Overblown: Experts point to improving technology, new electric car battery disposal programs, lifecycle analysis and other factors. the daily green. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.thedailygreen.com/living-green/blogs/recycling-design-technology/electric-car-battery-disposal

Morrissey, E. (2011, June 13). Electric cars not so green after all? HotAir. Retrieved November 24, 2013, from http://hotair.com/archives/2011/06/13/electric-cars-not-so-green-after-all/

Ramsey, M. (2010, October 17). High Battery Cost Curbs Electric Cars: Unlike Other Devices, Power Packs May Not Enjoy Major Economies of Scale. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 24, 2013, from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703735804575536242934528502#articleTabs%3Dquotes

The Hongkong Electric Company Limited. (2013). EV Charging Stations. Retrieved November 23, 2013, from http://www.hkelectric.com/web/ElectricLiving/EV/EVChargingStations/Index_en

Tsoi, G. (2011, February 24). Who Killed The Electric Car? Hong Kong Magazine. Retrieved November 24, 2013, from http://hk-magazine.com/city-living/article/who-killed-electric-car

World Nuclear Association. (2013). Electricity and Cars. Retrieved November 28, 2013, from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Non-Power-Nuclear-Applications/Transport/Electricity-and-Cars/

What will I major in?

As a freshman of City University of Hong Kong, I always think of a question “What will I major in?” It is an important question for most of the undergraduates, as students will have to study their major for three or more years in their coming future. In addition, the major chosen can affect the career prospect and the whole lives of students. My choice then must be chosen carefully and wisely. I decide to choose Civil and Structural Engineering as my major. In this essay, I will tell the reasons why I choose it as my major in university life.

I am a typical science student who studied Physics and Calculus in the secondary school. Physics attracts me a lot due to its wide range of calculations of the physical phenomenon. As a result, I am going to study Bachelor of Engineering in university. In fact, Physics can be applied in various areas, such as buildings, industries, and mechanical aspects. Most of the things we use or see nowadays involve elements of Physics. With a consolidated knowledge base and passion on Physics, I believe I am suitable in majoring Civil and Structural Engineering in the coming academic year.

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Apart from my passion on Physics, my experience also encourage me to choose Civil and Structural Engineering as my major. In 2010, I visited the Shanghai World Expo through the Red Cross Youth international exchange program. I was inspired by those advance technology, like China Railway High-speed, and the design of various pavilions, especially the UK one. I was curious about how people constructed such fascinating buildings. Furthermore, the Pearl program “World’s Most Extreme Home” fosters me on searching for the structure and design of buildings. With experiences of exchange program and television program, I have broadened my horizon on the construction of buildings. Therefore, Civil and Structural Engineering definitely draws my attention, and I yearn for being one of the Civil and Structural Engineering students.

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Making models and drawing pictures are my hobbies. These pastimes give me quite a lot of self-satisfaction. I am enthusiastic on creating and painting. I usually outline model of buildings, interior design, and landscape with my sketchbook and iPad. Those majestic design and complex structure of buildings are often challenging me. Such challenges, however, have not made me feel frustrated, but a stronger motivation on the construction of building. If I can major Civil and Structural Engineering, I am sure my desire of learning building structures could be satisfied.

Some people have asked me why I would like to choose Civil and Structural Engineering rather than Physics. Physics indeed is my favorite and both of the majors require the study of Physics. Majoring Physics involves more theories and I can learn Physics deeper than Engineering, yet, it lacks applications of Physics on building construction. Such application of Physics on building can only be learnt in Civil and Structural Engineering. Majoring Civil and Structural Engineering, I can have more practical experiences through its training and observations. Personally, I would like to study the subjects that people can apply the knowledge in our daily life concretely. Therefore, I would major Civil and Structural Engineering rather than Physics.

With my passion on Physics, my experience of exchange program and television program, and also my talents on creating, I believe these can lay the foundation of my pursuit of majoring Civil and Structural Engineering. Being a civil engineer is my ambition, I will follow my goal actively and work hard for my major in this academic year.

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