Debunking EV myths

Neelesh Vasistha Mar 22, 2021 · 5 min read

Electric vehicles have come a long way since their resurgence in the 1990’s. But still today, a cloud of ignorance hangs stubbornly over the entire industry. In this article, we parry some of the negative myths that persist about EVs.

Myth 1: EVs don’t have enough range for my needs

It’s true, the average EV will get you about 180 miles (290km) on a full charge, compared to the roughly 700 miles in a traditional car. Scandalous you may think, but not if you’re pragmatic.

Take the UK for example, where the average daily commute is 23 miles (37km) return. In the US, that bumps up to 32 miles (51km). So even if you don’t proactively refuel, this would still comfortably give you a full week of commuting on a single charge.

Things get a little trickier with long trips. 180 miles might kill a weekly commute, but won’t get you far across the country. This is where public charging comes in. So forethought is the name of the game here — with a few well-planned stops, even an EV with middling range can easily handle long journeys.

Just like traditional cars, EVs should suit the driver. There are plenty of production models that cater for long distance, like the Tesla Model 3, offering 550km of range, or the Renault Zoe and Hyundai Kona (400km).

Myth 2: There aren’t enough public chargers yet

This one totally depends on your location. In the US, progressive states like California are dusted with several thousand chargers, whereas rural Alaska has only nine (one per 82,199 residents!).

In Europe, the difference between nations is equally deep. Norway and the Netherlands boast a wide, twinkling network of public chargers, whereas Slovakia and Poland have very few. Here’s a tasty fact: in the UK, there are more public chargers than gas stations.

Perhaps more important is whether public charging is even relevant for you. For many drivers, 84% according to Green Car Reports, home charging is the main way to refuel. Not only is this heavily subsidized by local governments, you no longer need your own home to have one.

But if home charging isn’t an option, and public chargers are still scarce for you, it’s worth remembering that most countries are offering generous incentives to stimulate development of charging infrastructure. While the title of this section isn’t a complete myth, hopefully it will be soon.

Myth 3: EVs are not environmentally friendly

The age of overinformation. Today, you can scrape an article from the sunless depths of the web to support almost any stance. And every so often, an article or post ‘exposing the truth’ about EVs will get enough lift to enter mainstream conversation.

Governments and market players will readily admit that EVs still have a way to go. Materials are a problem. Battery disposal is a problem. But even with these shortcomings, EVs still clearly win out, due to the intrinsic pollution of extracting and burning gas. In the EU alone, gas vehicles consume around 275,000,000 tons of fossil fuels. Inefficiently too, we might add: 70% of energy that goes into a car engine is wasted. Despite what slippery politicians might say, fossil fuels cannot be ‘clean’ as a matter of definition. Once it burns, it becomes CO2 that cannot be recovered, reused or recycled.

Myth 4: It takes too long to charge an EV

With a traditional car, you drive to a gas station, squirt some oil into your car, pay up and go. In contrast, most people are only conscious of EVs when they see one sitting unattended at a charge station for hours on end. This paints the impression that EVs take long to charge. Is it true, though? Well, there’s no flat answer here — it depends on your charge speed_._

Charging speeds have three levels. Level 1 fully charges an EV in seven to sixteen hours, Level 2 in two to four hours, and Level 3 in 30 to 40 minutes. Currently, Chargetrip only routes drivers through Level 2 and 3 chargers, as we can safely bet that traveling drivers don’t want to hang around for eight hours while their EVs charge.

There’s also an ‘ultra fast’ speed: flash-charging an EV battery in around ten to twenty minutes. This comes closest to the traditional tank-and-go experience. But using fast chargers isn’t cheap. It’s difficult to calculate the exact costs (more on that here), but generally: the faster the speed, the more power it consumes and the more costly it becomes. It’s not surprising that only 20% of EV drivers use fast chargers over five times a month. But it will likely cheapen as more stations are built, and CPOs recoup the initial building and wiring costs.

Charge speed is a key boss fight on the way to EV adoption. According to EVBox, having more fast and ultra-fast chargers, strategically placed around highways, public parking and retail locations, will be the converting factor for two thirds of future EV drivers.

Myth 5: EVs are complicated to maintain

Nope. Quite the opposite. EVs are both simpler and cheaper to maintain. Most of this is due to the modest elegance of an electric motor, containing only around 20 moving parts, compared to the 2,000 in an ICE. There’s simply not much in an electric motor that can wear out and, when it does, it’s relatively simple to replace. You also don’t need to change the oil, transmission fluid, spark plugs, fuel filters, or drive belts with an EV. This leads to heavy savings, especially as cars age.

With that said, EVs aren’t like smartphones, and do need some professional maintenance. This includes lights, cabin filtration, suspension, tire rotation, body repairs, and windshield wiper blades. The brake system also needs replacement, albeit at half or even a third the frequency of an ICE.