There are so many dumb “fake news” stories about electric vehicles. Every time I see a thread on Twitter about EVs, there is always a large number of Tweets spreading the misinformation. Some of these are people who are dumb themselves. However, many of these are bots paid for by people who have an interest in slowing the uptake of electric cars that has taken off in the last number of years. And it is taking off in a big way! But still the fake news!
A “normal” person can’t afford an EV
Let’s think about this one for a moment. EVs are still quite new, so most people who are looking at them are looking for new cars. Are these people “normal”? Yeah, they are. A lot of people will “normally” change their cars every 3–5 years. There are a whole swathe of other people who would never buy new and only ever buy second hand — these are “normal” people too.
Let’s start with the folks who buy new cars — can they afford an EV? Yeah, of course they can. They may not all be able to afford a Porche Taycan, but there is a new EV in the price range of most new buyers. In Ireland in 2021 the Top 10 selling cars were not EV. Just the Top 10 represented over 28% — way over a quarter — of all new sales. So, pretty normal cars. The plot above shows ranges of prices for different models of those Top 10 cars versus a range of 10 common EVs. It should be obvious that, except for the Yaris, most of the fossil-fuel cars and EVs have similar ranges of cost. Even for the Yaris, there are new EVs coming out of China that will compete at that price range.
So, the majority of “normal” people who buy a new car are able to afford an EV if they want one.
Second-hand is a different matter — for more reasons that anything to do just with EVs. The whole second-hand market is in disarray because of lack of supply in the primary market caused by global chip shortages. In Ireland, we also have to deal with the impact on the second-hand market of Brexit.
Being EV specific, there is also a lack of supply in the second-hand market merely because they are still relatively new. The people who led the spike in purchase of new EVs over the last few years probably still own those cars. However, those that fit into the 3–5 year new car purchase bracket will be starting to change their cars and the supply to the second-hand market will begin to follow the same curve as the new EV market. This is basic economics — there is a lag in the second-hand market for new entrant products. Over the next few years there will be plenty of supply, and those “normal” folks who prefer to buy second-hand will have a lot of choice and good prices. Even today, if you look around, you will find good EVs at good prices.
If you stretch your budget to buy an EV that is a little more expensive, you actually get to save money in the long run because of the much reduced fuel cost (especially if you can mostly charge at home on a night rate) and service costs. There are way less moving parts and no oil changes to worry about in an EV, so service costs over several years of ownership will be much lower than a fossil fuel car.
EVs have no range and drivers are always suffering from “range anxiety”
This is funny. I once had a petrol (gasoline) car that had a small — 40 litre — tank and would do about 400km between fills. Before I bought it, I never for one second thought about the range of the car. I owned the car for 5 years and never thought about “range anxiety”. I had a simple rule in my head— when it got down to under a quarter full, I thought about refueling. Now I have an electric car that will do 400km on a “tank”, and if it ever gets to under 25% full, I think about refueling.
What most people are really talking about when they talk about “range anxiety” is “charger anxiety”: the fear of not being able to get to a charger — one that is working — before running out of charge.
The reality is that EV drivers rarely run out of charge. That is because most EV drivers will, sensibly, make sure to think about filling up when they get down to about 20%. 20% of car that has, say, 300km of range is 60km — that is a good buffer of distance to get to some kind of working charger. So called “range anxiety” actually probably leads to this sensible approach. The Automobile Association (AA) in the UK will tell you that they attend way more cars that have run out of petrol than those that have run out of battery.
The real secret as to why there is no such thing as “range anxiety” is that the vast majority of journeys taken by are are under 30km. If you had a 60km round-trip commute, you could comfortably do that in a 10 year old Nissan Leaf, and then simply plug-in at home and it will recharge while you sleep.
Of course, there are always longer trips. Modern technology has given us a great set of apps that let us plan out those trips to make sure that we can complete them in good time without running out of charge. The Internet is replete with stories about people doing long-distance journeys across the world in EVs — including my own around Ireland and a bigger one around Europe. All made possible by apps such as the excellent A Better Route Planner (ABRP). Worst case is that you need to take a 30 minute break every couple of hours. That could be bad if you are impatient, but it is good for the bladder!
Worth pointing out that the public charging infrastructure is not perfect. However it is getting better every day — almost as fast as fossil fuel prices are going up!
EVs are slooooow
Ha! No. Electric engines have more torque than a turbo-diesel, and that torque is immediately available. As an example, when the BMW i3 was launched they did a test versus the sporty BMW M3. The i3 beat the M3 between 0–60kph! You certainly won’t get beaten at the lights by a boy racer!
Looking at the same set of cars as above, only one of the Top 10 cars sold in Ireland in 2021 — the Kia Sportage — gets into the top 10 of 0–100kph speeds.
Of course, someone could point out faster petrol or turbo-diesel cars that are not in the Top 10, but the EV list doesn’t include the Porche Taycan or the Tesla Model S — nobody would ever accuse them of being slow!
So, no, EVs are not slow.
You will need to replace the battery after 3 years — at a humungous price — and the old battery will end up in landfill
Nope. I drive a Kia and have an 8 year warranty on the battery (alongside a 7-year warranty on the rest of the car!). I am pretty sure that Kia don’t think that the battery will need replacing any time soon. That warranty period is going to be based on a “mean time between failure”, so I am pretty sure that the battery will keep going for many years after the 8 — long after I have sold the car.
There are, of course, cars that are out of warranty where there have been faults with the battery needing an expensive replacement. There are many, many stories of people with fossil-fuel vehicles where the engine has failed, or the timing belt has gone, requiring expensive replacement. Mechanical parts can fail. Of course, EVs have many fewer mechanical parts, so a lot less to fail.
There is also the stories of Nissan quoting thousands of pounds to replace a battery in an old Leaf. Actually, nobody buys new batteries to replace old ones. There is a much better source — crashed cars that have been written off. Because the batteries are actually quite hardy, they can be recovered and reused. In fact, there is a great supply chain of replacing old 24kWh batteries in old Leafs with 30kWh batteries — giving them a range boost. There is an even bigger supply chain of Tesla motors and batteries from crashed cars to be used to replace fossil fuel engines in classic cars!
The whole “landfill” thing is just ignorant people spouting falsehoods. When a car battery in an EV is done (and with modern battery management systems that will be a long, long time), it can still actually be used for energy storage in things such as power walls for home use. Nissan use them in their factories! Even at the end, end of life, there are so many useful elements left in the battery that they are eminently recyclable and very worth recycling. In Europe, EU law now demands that manufacturers have a recycling programme for their batteries. So, no landfill!
If you get caught in a traffic jam in the snow, you will run out of battery and freeze!
This one is going around at the moment because of the time of year in the northern hemisphere and stories about such events.
The truth is that if your battery is very low when you get caught in a traffic jam then there is a possibility of running out of power after a few hours. Exactly the same for a fossil fuel car that needs to keep the engine running to keep warm.
However, the EV doesn’t need to “run the engine” as it can just run the heating system off the large battery. My heating system runs at about 500W. The battery is 64kWh. If I had 50% battery then I could run the heating for 64 hours — hopefully the traffic jam would have resolved before that!
An extra cool thing that EVs get because of being able to run the heating off the battery, is that you can often pre-heat your car on a schedule or via an app — so you come out in the morning to a nice snug car with defrosted windows!
On a longer trip, charging an EV takes longer than filling a fossil fuel car with petrol or diesel or LPG. Mitigating that, most of us don’t drive those type of long trips most of the time, and mostly charge at home, or at a shopping centre, while we are doing something else.
Other than that, and those charging times are coming down all the time, there isn’t really any other factor that makes fossil fuel cars “better” than EVs. There are quite a few items mentioned above that make EVs “better” than fossil fuel cars.
I am an EV owner, so I have some bias. But I also have some experience, and plenty of driving fossil fuel cars too. I just feel that if I am going to drive, I should drive in a car that is not emitting carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other nasty stuff. You could point to the emissions from the electricity generation, but even if your country produces electricity purely from coal (the dirtiest fuel) then driving an EV is still causing less carbon emissions than petrol or diesel. In my country, 40% of electricity was from renewable sources last year, and that number will keep going up, so my car will keep getting cleaner. How about yours?