ELECTRIC vehicles can seem complicated to anyone approaching them fresh. Stories swirl about, confusion reigns, and it’s difficult to find out which “issues” are actual issues.
With increasing numbers of fleets and company car drivers switching to electric cars to maximise savings, it’s clear that some questions need to be cleared up. Here we explain 10 of the most common misconceptions that newcomers have about EVs.
Electric Vehicle Driving Range Is Too Short
This is possible, but unlikely. According to UK Government statistics, 99% of journeys in England are less than 100 miles, easily covered by just about every new electric car on sale today.
Even for those needing a longer range, there are plenty of models with more than 200 miles available from a single charge, and even a considerable number over 250 miles. For those who regularly cover long distances, the 300 mile barrier has been beaten by half a dozen models already, and some are pushing quickly towards 400 miles.
There Are Too Few Charge Points And They Don’t Recharge An EV Quickly Enough
At the time of writing, there are more than 29,600 charge points at over 18,600 locations according to Zap-Map; but unfortunately that figure will be out of date by the time you read it. Installations of charge points are going in so quickly that it often changes from one day to the next – approximately 500 new points each month.
Of that total number, almost 5,500 chargers are rapid points, designed to quickly top up an electric car in around 30 minutes or less, and more than 1,000 of those are high-power chargers, able to add a couple of hundred miles of range in 10-15 minutes – depending on the EV.
The situation isn’t perfect, and more chargers will continue to be required as the market expands, but the number and regularity are far better than many presume.
Electric Vehicles Are Too Expensive
To buy an electric vehicle outright will usually cost more than a comparably powered and equipped petrol or diesel model. However, leasing an EV sees costs come out at a very similar level, and as soon as the total cost of ownership it is factored in, EVs are typically cheaper each month.
With savings in using electricity rather than fuel, reduced maintenance costs, low tax and company car tax rates, and similar insurance rates, the added cost of going electric is quickly more than off-set.
An EV’s Battery Will Need Replacing Every Five Years
This is simply not the case. Electric cars are part of a relatively young market, but the first mass-market EV to arrive in the UK – Nissan’s Leaf – went on sale in 2011. The majority are still going strong, and batteries have not needed replacing simply due to being used too much. Evidence shows that an EV’s lifespan is similar to a petrol or diesel model.
To help protect the driver from worry, most manufacturers provide an 8 year / 100,000 mile warranty against battery failure or loss of charging capacity – typically to around 75% of original capacity. Even if it does need replacing in many years’ time, it can be recycled, or given a second life as an energy storage pack or similar.
Materials Used In Batteries Come From Questionable Sources
It’s a genuine and worrying concern for many potential EV drivers, with some materials for all sorts of batteries – mobiles, laptops, cars etc – coming from areas where there are terrible working conditions or unsustainable mining takes place.
Because it’s a known issue, most battery manufacturers and car makers consciously track and source these materials ethically. It’s not foolproof, but both government and businesses are working hard to make sure these questionable sources are cracked down on. That’s on top of the research work being carried out to make batteries more sustainable in general.
Electric Vehicles Don’t Charge Quickly Enough
The question of “quickly enough” depends on how a driver thinks. If it’s essential that a car can “fill up” in less than five minutes, then an EV will never meet that need. But most petrol or diesel drivers can’t leave their car being refilled overnight, starting the day with a few hundred miles or range. Most charging is done at or near home this way.
This will cover most situations, but there will often be long trips that need covering, where the distance is greater than the driving range of the car. Here, rapid or ultra-rapid chargers can add a significant range in 20-40 minutes. The fastest chargers add more than 200 miles in less than 15 minutes.
Building Electric Cars Creates More Pollution Than They Save
A common theory, but always wrong. It’s true that electric vehicles leave the production line having created more emissions than a petrol or diesel alternative – largely because of the battery components.
However, from then, it’s easily possible to drive an EV with practically zero carbon emissions, particularly from fuel. Home, commercial, and public charging is often backed by 100% renewable electricity, which means that the more you drive an EV, the greener it gets compared to a fuel-powered alternative.
The tipping point – depending on make and model – is typically around 30,000-35,000 miles, where the savings an EV has made in emissions since being produced crossover with those continuing to be created every mile a petrol or diesel vehicle travels.
The National Grid Won’t Be Able To Cope If Everyone Switches To Electric Cars
Small upgrades in infrastructure are likely to be needed by the time the majority of cars and vans on the road are electric. However, EVs offer solutions to a “problem” they create. By recharging off-peak, electric vehicles are able to smooth out the peaks and troughs of demand on the National Grid, making better use of the capacity available.
Smarter use of electricity is being rolled-out in everything, maximising the effect renewable electricity can have on UK carbon emissions. Charging overnight or even feeding electricity back into the grid or home during peak times, electric vehicles can make best use of the large capacity already available.
Electric Vehicles Can’t Tow Trailers Or Caravans
Most EVs can’t tow, but increasing numbers can. All vehicles on the road need to be “type approved” to be able to to caravans or trailers, and more electric vehicles are coming to market that are rated at being able to tow trailers and all but the largest caravans.
There is a significant impact in range, and recharging bays are rarely designed with a trailer in mind, so the situation isn’t perfect, but it’s getting better and there are options available for those that need to to and want an electric vehicle.
Electric Vehicles Have Too Many Sockets And Can’t Be Charged At Every Charge Point
There are a few different plugs and sockets to deal with when looking at electric vehicles, but the key thing to remember is that you only have to deal with one set when you drive an EV. There are rules ensuring that EVs can charge on new and replacement charge points too, ensuring that an electric car driver can recharge just about anywhere.
Most drivers carry two cables with them; one can plug into a standard three-pin socket found in millions of buildings across the country. The other plugs into the majority of public chargers, with the end of each cable able to attach to their car. It means that unless a charge point already has a cable attached with the incorrect plug for their car, they can charge at any charger.
The only outlier here are the handful of models that have a certain type of rapid charging socket – CHAdeMO – as these are not found on every rapid charge point. There are still plenty of charge points across the country that can charge these models, but some networks – those owned of set-up by car manufacturers – don’t include the plug on their points since it doesn’t fit their cars.