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Index of Electric Vehicle Misconceptions
- Batteries are dangerous
- Range Anxiety
- EV’s are just as dirty as ICE
- High maintenance cost of EV’s
- Cost of Charging an EV
- EV’s are just a passing phase
- Lack of charging stations
- Batteries are expensive to replace
- EV’s can’t compete with muscle cars
- EV Charging takes forever
Electric vehicle misconceptions #1
Batteries are dangerous
Lithium-Ion batteries may suffer Thermal Runaway
Detractors of electric vehicle technology would like you to believe that lithium-ion batteries are dangerous. A study of fires in the USA conducted from 2003 to 2007 determined that there are 30 vehicle fires every hour … from combustion vehicle (pardon the pun). Yes, it is true, Lithium-Ion batteries may suffer a reaction called thermal runaway, where a battery cell rupture if overheated or overcharged which in extreme cases result in combustion. Thermal runaway happens not just with vehicles, but also with devices powered by lithium-ion batteries, such as laptops and cellphones, the most recent being the Samsung Note 7. Other vehicle types, such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner also experienced battery problems.
Scenarios, where electric vehicle batteries combust, in the past, has mostly been during or after accidents or while charging. In total fewer than ten cases of electric vehicle fires could be directly attributed to the battery. Lessons learned during these incidents also helped improve the technology. Tesla, for instance, raised its vehicle clearance, updated its firmware to reduce charging current when power fluctuations are detected, improved wall adapters, added a three-layered aluminum shield over the battery pack, which includes a titanium shield to protect sensitive components from punctures. Tesla has also extended it’s vehicle warranty to include fire damage. Most electric vehicles now come with detailed instructions to first responders how to disconnect the battery in the case of an accident. Modern batteries are also mostly liquid cooled as a further measure of prevention.
Electric vehicle misconceptions #2
Range Anxiety is an irrational fear
The average distance traveled in the USA is around 30 miles per day. A 2016 study by MIT shows that range anxiety is an irrational fear since 87% of driver trips can be done with a low-cost EV without altering driving patterns or have access to charging stations during the day.
As battery and charging technology improves range, anxiety will move further down the list.By the year 2020 EVs should be able to cover 100% of drivers commute requirements. The magical number for mass-market vehicles (priced at $30,000) is to drive 200 miles per charge, these vehicles already exist, and by 2020 most auto brands will have mass-market models available. The Chevrolet Bolt with a range of 238 miles (380km) was launched in late 2016, and the much anticipated Tesla Model 3 available 2017 is expected to have a similar range.
Charging technology is also improving by the year allowing for more rapid charging. Tesla’s charging stations currently charge at 120kW per car with the next generation expected to be more than 350kW, bringing down time needed rapidly.
True, it is an adjustment to drive an EV and may feel like going over a cliff when converting from gas to EV, but the feeling is short-lived, and within a day the mind shift occurs. Once you have driven an EV driving a gas guzzler will feel like a step backward. With a little planning and the help of your vehicles phone app you will never run into a “bricking” scenario (when your EV becomes as useful as a brick). If you still feel uncomfortable dip your toes in the water by buying a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). In 2016, as more consumers warmed to electric vehicles the sale of PHEV’s have increased.
Use our cool tool, EV Select, to determine which EV is best for your requirements.
Last thought, if you live in a country where fuel shortages exist the boot is on the other foot as EV drivers will not suffer the same anxiety as gas guzzlers.
Electric vehicle misconceptions #3
EV’s are just as dirty as ICE
A crash course in EV speak, ICE = Internal Combustion Engine
A different and maybe fairer general comparison is to use the Well-to-Wheel (W2W) comparison. Well-to-Wheel refers to the measurement of CO2 emissions of a car, taking into account the production of the fuel or electricity. This is a fair analysis and represents an “all-in cost” of the impact on the environment of electric vehicles. Zero emissions measurement only applies at point of use and excludes the environmental impact earlier in the chain where the electricity is produced to charge the vehicle. For a fair comparison with a combustion (ICE) vehicle, W2W also factors in the drilling of the oil, refining, and transportation along with tailpipe emissions. On average, an Electric Vehicle will produce 80g/km of CO2 compared with 147-161g/km for an ICE.
All being said, when you charge an EV from you solar system at your home or office it emits no emissions.
People also like to state that lithium-ion batteries pose an environmental risk at the end of its life. The fact is that the materials in these batteries are very valuable and recyclable. At the end of its useful life for vehicles, batteries normally still have 80% capacity and are reintroduced as static batteries in the grid or household applications, such as Tesla‘s Power Wall. Other auto manufacturers, such as BMW, Mercedes and Nissan have created second life battery companies for household use.
Electric vehicle misconceptions #4
High maintenance cost of EV’s
Moving parts in EV drivetrain = 1 motor vs. ICE drivetrain around 200
The loss of regular income from maintenance is one of the big reasons dealers, and big auto doesn’t like EVs as they will lose annuity income. With combustions engines, auto companies are guaranteed that you will go back to them every couple of thousand miles to be milked. EV manufacturers have fewer parts to source from fewer suppliers, which in the long run will lead to lower cost and better warranties. It is not uncommon to see in an EV Forum drivers stating that they haven’t serviced their EV for over two years.
With only brakes and tires to be frequently replaced EV owners have the convenience of fewer trips to the workshop. Software upgrades are done via the internet. What’s better than going to bed and waking up with a better car in your garage the next morning?
Since servicing an EV is easier and cleaner some EV-specific dealerships provide offsite servicing at your home or office. Tesla claims that 80% of all services are minor enough to warrant remote servicing via Tesla Rangers, its mobile repair unit. In future, some manufacturers also plan to allow owners to service some parts themselves, whereby you can order a part and easily replace it yourself.
Lower maintenance requirements for EV owners results in more convenience and improved total cost of ownership. What can be better proof than Tesla gaining the top spot in the 2016 Annual Owner Satisfaction survey, where 91% of respondents replying “Definitely Yes” if they will buy the brand again.
Below is a list of all parts required in a Fuel Injected V8 ICE
Piston, connecting rod, four valves, four valve springs, four cams, one fuel injector (total 15 parts per cylinder)
Totaling 120 moving parts
Crankshaft, two camshafts, timing belt (if a chain – many more parts), starter motor, starter relay, belt (could have 2), oil pump, fuel pressure regulator, gas sender gauge, EGR valve, air injection check valve, purge valve.
List taken from Tesla Forum
Electric vehicle misconceptions #5
Cost of Charging an EV
Does your gas station offer discounted prices on fuel if you fill-up at midnight?
Charging cost can even be lower if you charge clever, well if charging while you sleep is clever rather than a no-brainer. Most utilities have Time of Use tariffs (TOU), where electricity is much cheaper than peak periods. TOU is mostly during the late night hours where base load generators such as coal plants have to produce power which they can’t sell as it is too expensive to shut down and restart. In some regions with lots of solar TOU discounts can shift to the middle of the day in theory. Many mobile apps for charging help you to optimize your charging based on your utility’s tariff structure.
Some auto manufacturers, such as Tesla offer, packages for free or discounted charging when using the brands charging infrastructure.
It is important to compare Total Cost of ownership when comparing EVs with ICE vehicles. When one takes into consideration the charging saving above, plus savings on maintenance and incentives it already makes EVs a much better economic choice than an ICE vehicle. Now consider charging from your solar PV, where you pay nothing for energy in your EV. The perfect world would be where employers provide solar parking bays to staff, enabling free charging during the day.
When comparing charging cost for EVs, please remember that all is not equal since battery technology influence the efficiency of the batteries. Therefore, the charging cost for two EV models with the same battery capacity could differ as one will use more energy than the other due to poorer or older battery technology. wattEV2Buy’s charging calculator takes the EVs nominal rating in consideration when calculating charging cost. Read more on the difference between capacity and nominal rating on our Tech Lingo page.
Electric vehicle misconceptions #6
EV’s are just a passing phase
In April 2017 EV company Tesla became more valuable than GM
The main driver for EVs performance is policy, in support of climate change. In particular a push by the Chinese government to combat pollution in its cities, the US Environmental Protection Agency and in particular, the Californian Air Resource Board, spearheading a Zero Emission Vehicle program prompting automakers to have a certain percentage of electric vehicles. The second contributor is the advancement in technology, lead by auto companies such as Tesla and battery makers such as LG-Chem and Panasonic.
Looking ahead, the tide has turned for EVs and analysts are constantly adjusting their forecasts upward. The latest Economist report shows forecasts for EV penetration as high as 25% by 2030. A recent survey in the UK showed that 85% of respondents seriously considers buying an EV. Countries such as Norway aims to be 100% EV by 2025. One of the biggest future drivers of EVs is an “own goal” scored by big auto in the form of Diesel Gate. Resulting in a penalty that forces the culprits to lower their emissions drastically, and the only way out is EVs. Recently one of the last companies with no EV strategy, Hyundai, was forced by shareholder pressure to change its strategy for EVs.
Electric vehicle misconceptions #7
Lack of charging stations
We need more charging stations before I buy…
The argument should only hold though on longer or more frequent use of one’s vehicle. Various studies have determined that cars a parked 90% or more of the time. Other studies as far back as 2013 proved that EV’s are sufficient for 80% of all trips and that by 2020 for 100% of all trips. So, with just a mind shift and a little planning, you will be able only to require charging stations on longer trips.
Currently, there are huge infrastructure projects on the go to install charging networks and corridors across national highways in most progressive countries. Various private companies have grabbed the opportunity, and billions will be invested in the sector by 2020. Shell and Total have announced that they will include charging points in all their forecourts at gas stations, while many auto manufacturers have either partnered or are rolling out their own infrastructure. Tesla’s fast charging station network already consists of nearly 5,000 points by the end of 2016, where you can charge around 170 miles in 30 minutes. Charging technology is also improving by the year allowing for more rapid charging. Tesla‘s charging stations currently charge at 120kW per car with the next generation expected to be more than 350kW, bringing down time needed rapidly. Most progressive State and Federal governments are also implementing legislation to force property owners to include a certain percentage of charging stations for public parking.
Please consider other and remember your charging station etiquette!
Electric vehicle misconceptions #8
Batteries are expensive to replace
Chances that your battery will outlast the rest of the vehicle is very good
Most vehicle batteries are warrantied for eight years, and close to unlimited mileage. Stationary batteries for grid applications has warranties of 10 years with most large manufacturers stating that 15 years is achievable. These are the same batteries that are used in electric vehicles; the only reason vehicle warranties are of a shorter duration is the “hostile” environment in which it operates. So, if you look after your battery and never charging it to full or depleting, and keeping within an 80% to 30% state of charge (SOC), your battery will outlast most other components. Should something go wrong with your battery you have a warranty, recently warranties for most companies also included fire risk? Compare that with an air filter, spark plug, oil filter, water pump, head gasket, or any of the 10,000 other parts on an ICE that are designed to be replaced on a regular basis.
Not only would batteries be cheaper if you should ever need to replace it but you might still get some value for as a “Second Life” battery used in Battery Home Systems with or without Solar. Some manufacturers such as Tesla, BMW, and Nissan already are developing businesses for their “Second Life” batteries. Batteries are also far easier to replace than an engine, a vehicle such as the Toroidion has been designed for a quick replacement to compete in the Le Mans 24 hour race.
The Chinese automaker, Kandi Technologies, modeled a CarShare program after the largest bike share program in the world, which started in the city of Hangzhou with 20,000 EVs. Modeled on a vending machine concept, the program allows clients to lease a car on a per hour, week, month or long lease of between 1 and three years. The lease includes maintenance, insurance, and even electricity. Vehicles are returned to the garage (vending machine) to swap out empty batteries full ones. Renault’s business model is also built around the renting of battery packs. Some owners complain that Renault might deactivate the batteries should they miss a payment ;-). I guess one can complain about anything.
Electric vehicle misconceptions #9
EV’s can’t compete with muscle cars
Long gone are the days of comedians making fun of the guy in the Prius
The modern day electric car revolution, post the Prius, is synonymous with supercars. Most start-up brands start off with building a supercar of their concept powertrain, part because it can afford to build a couple of units at first and part from a marketing standpoint. Tesla started with the Tesla Roadster, incorporating its power train with a body based on the Lotus Elise. Many Chinese EV start-ups such as Qiantu Motors and Techrules (Techrules REn pictured above) love to produce a supercar first as proof of concept, following the Tesla model.
Sure, electric motors do not make the same noise and vibrations as a carbon based muscle car, but even that can be programmed in nowadays. A Chinese start-up, Youxia, includes a feature replicating the engine noise of various expensive race cars in its Youxia Ranger X EV, a screaming Tesla lookalike. The list includes various Ferrari’s and the Jaguar F-Type.
Electric vehicle misconceptions #10
EV Charging takes forever
Charging might take longer than filling up at a gas station, but nobody has a gas station at home
The only time when EV charging time becomes an issue is when making long distance trips, having to take 30 minutes to charge for the next 170 miles before you have to do it again. Technology to improve battery and charging efficiency is accelerating. We discussed the improvements in energy density in EV Misconceptions #8, providing more bang for your buck in EV capacity. Charging technology is improving by the year, allowing for more rapid charging. Tesla‘s Supercharger stations currently charge at 120kW per car, charging 170 miles in 30 minutes. Tesla’s next generation Superchargers are expected to charge over 350kW. Superchargers are conveniently positioned near shops, restaurants and wifi hotspots, allowing you to stretch your legs, have a coffee, work or play. In the end, it’s just a mind shift, you don’t see EV drivers ranting about charging, just about charging etiquette.
Charging time is also the main reason why many auto manufacturers dissed EV technology in favor of doing nothing (sticking with ICE) or trying to develop Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, such as Toyota and Hyundai. Strategies have changed, most manufacturers aim to bring products to market that can charge fast. Porsches Mission E platform, which would be the basis for many of VWs electric vehicles targets 80% charging within 15 minutes via an 800-volt charger, twice as powerful as any technology available today. Alternatively put, it will charge 100km/60mi in only 4 minutes.
Please consider other and remember your charging station etiquette!
Charging a Plug-In depends on the size of the battery in kWh and the amount of electric current. Various EVs can take different levels of charge, and buyers should make themselves aware of the particular model’s ability. Charging happens at a Charging Point, which can be at home, at work or in publicly accessible locations.
Level 1 Charging – Charging a Plug-In at a typical wall socket. In the U.S. this is typically a 120-volt (nominal) outlet and in Europe at a quicker 220-volt.
Level 2 Charging or Fast Charging from a 240-volt outlet and at higher Amperage (current)– than Level 1 (about 6.3kW as opposed to 3.3kW). Amperage current makes a difference in charge time. Smaller EVs like the Leaf might take 30 amps or so. Tesla’s high-power wall charger delivers a nominal 80 amps at 240 volts, charging a Plug-In in around 3 to 4 hours depending on the battery size. Level 2 Charging would be done through a dedicated charging point at home which is normally purchased as an add-on option with the vehicle and called a Home Charging Unit or a Charging Station.
Level 3 Charging or Rapid Charging occurs only at Fast Charging Stations deployed on a Fast Charging Network and employs a 20-50kW current, allowing an 80% charge of a typical electric car in around 20-30 minutes. Regular Rapid Charging, especially to 100% is not good for the long-term life of the battery but does offer the chance to top up on the occasional longer journey. Fast Charging Stations can be Level 2 or Level 3 and are normally provided by third parties which charge a fee or by a particular auto manufacturer to support the adoption of EVs and their brand in particular, such as Tesla’s fast charging network. Fast Charging packages could be added as an optional add-on to the purchase of a vehicle. Please, not make sure the vehicle you buy can accept rapid charging, it’s not a given.
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