The Growing Electric Car Industry's effect on the auto industry

By Connor Touhey | December 2, 2021

Currently, the United States and the rest of the world is undergoing one of the biggest changes in the history of the auto industry. It’s no secret that electric cars are the way of the future. Quieter, requiring less maintenance, and reducing emission levels are all reasons as to why we have been seeing more and more of these cars on the road. And it's not just select brands like Tesla that are making electric cars anymore. Ford, GM, and many other manufacturers are beginning to put more and more of an emphasis on their EV sectors, and just looking at the cars going by on the road, one can see how profound this change has been just in recent years. So what does a change like this mean for the auto industry as a whole? Well, to put it simply, this shift to electric is going to mean a harsh shift in several aspects of industry. For starters, manufacturing electric cars requires 30-40% fewer workers than it does to assemble internal-combustion cars. This means a loss of tens of thousands of workers at companies. However, because of this lesser need for workers, costs of manufacturing are smaller, and hence the cost for consumers is also less than it would be otherwise. Another important thing to note is the need for a drastic increase in infrastructure pertaining to electric charging stations. In order to make electric cars as driveable as standard gas-powered cars, recharging stations must be very common. After all, an electric car can only travel as far as its battery will allow. This need for charging stations is sure to open thousands of jobs in order to build these charging stations around the country; jobs that would otherwise not have existed. These new jobs may have the effect of partially or fully offsetting the job losses coming from the release of workers from car manufacturing plants.

And of course lets not forget arguably the most important aspect of electric cars; the comparison of how polluting electric cars and internal-combustion cars. With the transfer of power to alternative forms of energy (ex: wind or solar power), many of the pollutants that come as a result of the combustion of gasoline and diesel will be significantly reduced. This switch to alternative forms of energy must be looked at closely, however; Because while the car may run off of electricity, that electricity may come from a coal or natural gas power plant, which simply changes the place where the emissions come from. It is also important to mention the harmful process of mining for Lithium Ore - a necessary element in the construction of the Lithium-Ion batteries that power electric cars. This process of mining can be extremely harmful to the environment - it destroys natural landscapes and releases noxious chemicals that harm humans and the environment. Despite these negatives, the implementation of electric cars gives the potential for cars of the future to run off of green energy; thereby truly reducing emissions to a green standpoint.

So are electric cars worth it? Are they worth the loss in jobs in sections of the auto industry? Are they worth the significant changes in infrastructure that come from shifting our entire method of transportation? Are they worth the pollution that is necessary to make their batteries? Some may support them, some may not. But I think it's important to keep this reality in mind; we don’t have an unlimited supply of gas. At some point the pump is going to run dry. This shift to electricity must be made sooner or later. So the questions of if we should do it are not as important as when we should do it. Well, is it the right time? We will have to wait and see.

Edited by Benjamin Sherry and Zachary Elias