Is this a Canary in the Coal Mine moment?
Say what you want about radical engineer Elon Musk, but his companies have certainly produced some very innovative products over the years. None are perhaps as revolutionary as Tesla’s line-up of wildly popular and stylish electric vehicles that require no gasoline.
This past weekend, a beacon of progressive light shone through the clouds as two gas stations on different sides of the world got rid of all their fuel pumps and transitioned entirely to EV charging stations. One of the gas stations is in Norway and it is a branch of the global Circle K convenience store company. The other is a local gas station in Takoma Park, Maryland called RS Automotives.
This is significant, not due to the world adding two more charging stations, there are many already and Tesla’s network of stations is truly remarkable. The news here, however, is that these are stations that have decided to abandon gas, oil and, presumably, gasoline-based auto maintenance for EV charging and convenience. This is a trend that, hopefully, will accelerate.
In the wake of the UN 2019 Climate Action Summit, these initiatives are but small victories in the fight for environmental reformation. Nonetheless, we can take these updates as signs of individual improvement and solace. Either they are money-driven transformations reflective of more people turning to electric vehicles, or they are examples of non-money driven actions that we may need businesses to make in order to shift consumers in the superior, ecologically sensitive direction.
While gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles have been around for a while with popular older models such as the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, Tesla stands as the first widely popular electric car that runs on zero fluids excluding the windshield-wiper fluid (or tiny amounts for cooling batteries). Instead of filling it up with gas, you charge it up like a phone.
Admittedly, charging up a Tesla can, in some situations, take a while— close to an hour if fully discharged and topped off (Tesla suggests 80% maximum at any time to promote battery health and longevity). Although over half a million Teslas have been sold since their first all-electric Model-S debuted in 2012, some people still assume that the time it takes to charge one up is Tesla’s greatest weakness.
The “Range Anxiety” debate is not new, and not entirely real
This “weakness” is part propaganda, part wishful thinking and part scare tactic. The reality is, pumping gas also takes time and if you add in a bathroom break and a short stop to grab a drink to go, a supercharger can approximate, with ease, the turn-around time. Not to mention the peace of mind that comes with using a fill-up (charge up) as a break from driving rather than a hurried gas smelling pit-stop.
Charging stations have been popping up more frequently across the country and the world in the last few years. Tesla, Volkswagon and some venture capital-based start-ups have made initiatives to put up tens of thousands more EV charging stations along highways and roads.
This trend can be seen as a canary in the coal mine moment for the demise of fossil fuel based transportation and, ultimately, the fossil fuel based economic model. The looming climate crisis, breaking out virtually every day into the news, is but one reason to cheer this development. There are many more and many CitCM moments to come.
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