A scene from the post-apocalyptic series The Rain on Netflix.
The health and economic crisis linked to the Covid-19 epidemic questions our ability to live independently. Stock of food, maintenance of a vegetable garden, water purification: to eat, survival techniques are known. But what about mobility? In the event of a global collapse, is it better to have an electric car rather than a thermal one? From energy supply to maintenance, Automobile-Propre compares the autonomy potential of the two technologies.
Imagine a post-apocalyptic scenario in which the electricity grid is down and gas stations stop being supplied. How to get food, tools, medicines and products necessary for survival if they are several hundred kilometers away? If the bicycle may be appropriate in certain situations, the motorized vehicle remains essential for others. Of the electric or thermal car, which would be able to operate in such a context?
Hydrocarbon extraction is anecdotal in France. We produced less than 1% of our consumption in 2010. The country is therefore totally dependent on imports, subject to political, economic and technical hazards. A collapse would cause an inevitable disruption of supply.
If the reserves make it possible to last a few months by reducing our needs (the equivalent of three weeks of current consumption is stored on the national territory), it would then be necessary to compose without hydrocarbons. Especially since the modest production of fuels of agricultural origin (ethanol, biodiesel, biogas) would most likely be reserved for the military, relief and officials. The vast majority of thermal vehicles could therefore not operate in the event of a prolonged crisis.
A more limited immobilization for electric cars. Even deprived of the current distributed on the public network, these vehicles can always be recharged from alternative sources. Electricity can actually be produced anywhere with very simple and varied means, unlike hydrocarbons. Thus, the owners of houses equipped with solar panels will be able to continue to recharge their vehicle, for some after some technical adaptations. A modest installation of 3 kWp, or approximately 20 m² of solar panels, provides an average of between 7 and 11 kWh of electricity each day. Without a domestic battery, refueling a Renault ZOE should therefore require four to seven sunny days. A very slow charge, but sufficient to have about 400 km of autonomy, enough to go on an expedition from time to time.Read also: This youtuber charges a Tesla Model 3 with solar panels
The most experienced will know how to make their own wind turbine or hydraulic turbine from an old electric motor, easily convertible into a generator. Knowledge in the field of electricity and electronics is rather well spread among the population. Experienced handymen, electricians and technicians should be able to share their knowledge to restore the power supply via very local means of production. Thus, it will even be possible to charge an electric car by pedaling, as proven by the Finnish inventor Janne Käpylehto.Read also: Charging your electric car using leg strength? It is possible, but very long!
As electric vehicles require less maintenance than their thermal counterparts, they are naturally more robust and durable. However, their maintenance techniques are not as mastered as those of fuel cars. While many motorists know how to perform operations on petrol and diesel engines, few dare to search under the hood of an electric vehicle, for lack of knowledge or fear of electrocution. However, the architecture of a battery-powered car is simple and contains far fewer moving parts.
Thanks to regenerative braking, it will not force the survivalist user to go in search of pads. Nor will it require him to find a can of mineral oil or coolant to check the levels. A severe failure of the engine or of a vital organ is however more likely to be repaired on a thermal vehicle, mechanics, parts and adapted tools being very widespread. A zero-emission model will require the intervention of a person with solid knowledge of electricity and electronics as well as components mainly manufactured on the other side of the planet.Read also: An electric and solar combi for a committed world tour
Along with tires, IT is a handicap common to both technologies in a crisis situation. With the exception of old models, electric and thermal cars both have on-board computers, calculators and digital sensors. They are therefore subject to the same hazards as any computer equipment. A virus, software bug or even the explosion of an electromagnetic pulse bomb (EMP) could destroy any possibility of movement, especially in the absence of a seasoned computer scientist and a little pirate on the edges.
Given these advantages and disadvantages, the match of the most suitable vehicle to operate in an extreme crisis situation remains in favor of the electric vehicle. It is easier to supply energy, requires little maintenance and has less potential for failure. And you what do you think ? Do you prefer to rely on a thermal or electric car in a disaster scenario?