Challenges Of Electric Vehicles

Globally, the production of electric cars and hybrid electric vehicles has come with incredible speed and are getting more deeply rooted than ever. In fact, they have stormed the economies of Asia, Europe and America in a yet dizzying fashion due to the ingenuity of their engineers and technologists. The electric vehicles are flourishing in countries of the aforementioned continents: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, France, United States, Canada, etc.
With perhaps the exception of South Africa, the whole of Africa, including Nigeria, have remained mere observers in the array of the emerging revolutionary breakthroughs in the world of vehicle manufacturing. Electric cars and their hybrid variants are responses to the urgent clamour for an environmentally- cleaner world. The global environment has, for decades, been degraded by the emission of tons of Carbon Dioxide and related elements on account of massive usage of hydrocarbons in the form of petroleum products by gas-driven vehicles.
Historically, electric cars have been around since the late 19th century, the development progressing gradually over time. According to reports, interest in electric cars gained momentum by the early 1970s by reason of the increasing concerns over global climatic conditions and soaring cost of petroleum products.
B
etween then and now, scientists and engineers have worked assiduously to improve on the advances made in electric vehicles production. The result is the churning out of competitive, flashy electric and hybrid electric vehicles that eliminate or minimize usage of petroleum products. Several countries have set deadlines ranging from five to 20 years to flood their economies with the fuelless vehicles.
T
he implications of the foregoing for global economies are varied. While the feat is being celebrated, promoted and encouraged by technologically- advanced economies because of its numerous merits, including job creation potentials, the development represents a significant shift in the consumption of crude oil and its products. In other words, it means a progressive decline in the use of petrol and allied products to drive vehicles, worldwide.
For oil-dependent countries as Nigeria, the scenario is scary. Most of the oil-producing countries in this category export their crude oil, earning, in the process, huge foreign exchange to finance their annual budgets. For decades, oil had remained the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Thus, the decline in global oil consumption on account of the arrival of fuelless cars would spell a significant fall in oil revenue accruable to the country.
Sadly, the level of the nation’s technology in automobile manufacturing is unbearably low, meaning that we are already left behind in the novel technological equation. For the electric car makers, Nigeria stands out as a huge market for their new products, and even as a dumping ground for discarded fuel-driven vehicles. So, in the next few years, Nigerians would be driving cars without petrol.
Considering the impact of declined oil revenue to the Nigerian economy, the call for economic diversification becomes more than urgent. The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, referred to the above development recently and reiterated the urgency for diversification of the economy.
While local scientists, engineers and technologists soak in the challenges posed by the emergence of electric cars and engage in strategies to lift Nigeria to that level of success, the government, in collaboration with the private sector, should embark on deliberate, real and massive economic diversification programmes that would ensure the nation is not stranded in any way.
We suggest that specific timelines be set for the real actualization of the programmes as they affect the various sectors of the economy. We acknowledge the inroads made so far in the agricultural sector where much is still needed to be done. It is our position that the successes achieved in the agricultural sector be replicated in other areas.

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