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Comparative Analysis of the Environmental and Socio-Economic Impact of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

Consumers have progressively relied on passenger cars to meet their needs. According to Van et al (2013) a significant number of consumers in different parts of the world use cars to facilitate their movement as they go to work and for various errands.

While the use of these vehicles has made their movement easier, it has resulted in serious disadvantages including excessive release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (Faria et al., 2013). The reliance on vehicles, particularly those with fossil fuel combustion engine and power have increased the rate of environmental pollution and climate change. The efficiency technologies installed in the conventional cars have not resulted in any significant reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases emission. According to Choma and Ugaya (2017) the increasing population size and high level of economic activities have resulted in serious emissions of greenhouse gases despite the efficiency technologies put in place. Besides environmental pollution and contributions towards climate change, the use of fossil-based vehicles is also associated with depletion of natural resources, specifically rapid oil depletion.

Consequently, the global automotive industry has focused on alternative fueled vehicles as a way of controlling environmental pollution, depletion of resources and climate change. According to Ghosh (2014) different forms of alternative fueled vehicles have been manufactured in different parts of the world, as a way of minimizing greenhouse gases emissions. Many government and advocacy groups have recommended hybrid and electric vehicles as some of the alternative fueled vehicles that can be used to minimize energy use and release of greenhouse gases (Van et al., 2013). Automobile manufacturers in various parts of the world have focused on the manufacture of mild and full hybrid vehicles to lower the emissions. Interest in the production of electric vehicles has also been reported due to their low or no tailpipe emissions.

In Norway, the focus has mostly been on the production of electric vehicles, and the country is considered the largest producer and seller of electric vehicles in Europe. According to Holtsmark (2014) Norway plans to sell only hydrogen and electric cars in the country from the year 2021. As much as the electric vehicles are believed to offer low or not tailpipe emissions, Choma & Ugaya (2017) indicates that tailpipe emissions are only one aspect of environmental impact that may not overly promise the reduction of greenhouse gases emission into the environment. It is important to conduct a rigorous and scenario-based economic and environmental assessment of the technology before its widespread adoption.

Countries such as Japan are considering increasing the manufacture and sale of hybrid vehicles alongside the electric vehicles citing that they are both effective in the reduction of greenhouse gases. It is however not clear based on literature data, the most suitable technology (hybrid versus electric) in the reduction of greenhouses gases emission and in achieving an enhanced economic value. There is limited information on the comparative analysis of the probable benefits and consequence of the hybrid in relation to the electric vehicles. The comparative assessment of the impacts and consequences of the two kinds of vehicles is important in Norway to identify the most suitable technology to adopt in a wide scale, presenting the need for the current study.