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Russian Oil Sanctions and Electric Vehicles - Gülce Özdilekcan

Starting from February, the Russian- Ukrainian conflict continues with its total force. Not only has it impacted Ukraine, but it has also affected most of the world. Today, Russia is the third biggest producer of oil globally, and it has the biggest reserve of gas. It explains why it has affected most of the world since states import their oil and gas needs. The act against Ukraine has changed the political relationships with Russia for most of the world. Countries have made a public announcement that they will restrict their trade, especially for the energy sector.

Since February, we have heard that both companies and states will restrict or ban their energy relationship with Russia. On February 27th, Reuters reported that "BP is abandoning its stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft in an abrupt and costly end to three decades of operating in the energy-rich country, marking the most significant move yet by a Western company response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. As BP is one example, also, like a great move, it has been reported on March 9th that US and UK are restricting their oil imports from Russia. Joe Biden has announced that the US will no longer be involved with Russian oil and gas as a reaction to the Ukraine invasion and deprive Russia's revenue. The UK has also agreed with the US, and the EU plans to restrict their imports by 2/3 within a year.

Even though there will be endless problems arising with the restriction of the oil and gas restrictions, the question that has aroused in my mind was the gasoline problem, especially used in cars and other motor vehicles. According to US Energy Information Center, 44% of oil products were used as finished motor gasoline, the product that we can easily reach in gas stations, in 2020. It wouldn’t be wrong to think that the approximate percentage would be around this number as well around the world.

Now that states and companies have restricted their imports from Russia, countries have responded to this issue differently. For example, Germany has promised that, by 2030, there will be 15 million electric vehicles in the traffic. Also, according to the predictions of the US, more than half of the car sales will consist of electric vehicles. It seems to me that, regarding the shortage of Russian oil products that will reflect the overall market, electric cars will be one of the solutions. However, is it realistic, and can we convert to electric cars? Also, are they eco-friendly as they were promised to be?

Why don’t we use electric cars as much as we use gasoline cars today?

Today, it is known that only 1% of the cars in the traffic in the US are Electric Vehicles (EV). There are various reasons why consumers don’t prefer EVs instead of gasoline cars. According to a recent study from John Helveston of the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, George Washington University, and Laura Roberson, the biggest reason why EVs are not preferred is that people are not fully informed about EVs. In their research called “Electric vehicle adoption: can short experiences lead to big change?”, they have applied a questionnaire to the subjects, and it turned out that most of them were unable to reply to even basic ones.

Also, initially, EVs were more expensive than gasoline cars. Even though there are fewer expenses to the car in the future, consumers don't want to spend so much money on just the car. On the other hand, there are advantages to the car, like electricity being less than gasoline. Also, its vital parts have a longer life than gasoline cars. In gasoline cars, to run the engine, gasoline is burnt, and with this reaction, heat is created, which in the long term harms the pieces of the car. However, the mechanism in the EVs creates less heat which enables long-lasting machines.

In fact, thinking on the producer side, short-lasting cars and pieces are advantageous for them. Today, the average productive lifespan of a gasoline car is approximately 12 years and about 200.000 miles. In its total life, inevitably, this car will have issues with its parts and change them, which is economically advantageous for the car fixer and the spare peace producer. Also, after 12 years, the consumer will invest in a new car, which is now advantageous to the car producer. However, according to Tesla, EVs have a longer lifespan, around 20 years. In these 20 years, the car will get broken less, since I have mentioned that there is less friction and heat created in the engine, and it will need fewer spare pieces. Also, the consumer will change his car less frequently. Therefore, I can say that EVs are less advantageous for the producer side, creating a problem in the future. Producers may not want to produce EVs because it may be less profitable in the long term, and there will be fewer EVs in the market than it was initially planned to have.

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