20 September 2023

Top 7 Myths about EVs

Like any new technology, there are misconceptions and myths around EVs that can be difficult to dispel. As the old saying goes ‘a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.’ Luckily, we live in an information-rich age in which reliable sources such as EV manufacturers, charging infrastructure providers and independent government resources can help dispel these misconceptions, half-truths, and myths.

Let’s address 7 of the most common EV-related myths and contrast them with reality:

Myth #1: EV charging is as slow as charging a smartphone

There is a pre-conceived notion that charging EVs takes too long and can be as slow as charging a smartphone however, this isn’t true.

The reality: The biggest misperception about EV charging is that it takes too long. While it’s true that a depleted EV plugged into a standard 230-volt household outlet can easily take 38 hours or more to recharge fully, few EV drivers will experience this scenario.

Faster options like DC fast chargers significantly reduce charging times while high-power charging stations can replenish a significant amount of range in a short time. Many new EV models today have a range of 300 to 500 kilometres on a single charge plus take the typical commute in account: according to European research agency Odyssee Mure, the average EU driver travels just 32 km a day, which could mean recharging your EV just once a week if you treat it like a conventional fuel vehicle.

If charging at home, the fastest way to replenish your EV's battery is with a 3-phase (11kW) charger, using all of the phases of your home power supply. Many new EV buyers purchase a home charger when purchasing their vehicle. Once you have a home charger, it drastically reduces the time it takes to recharge your EV. While charging times vary, you can fully recharge a 60kWh (300-400 km range) EV with a triple-phase home charger in 5 hours or less while parked overnight.

If charging your EV at home isn't possible, there are 2 main public charging options: Public AC and DC fast charging. Many EVs can regain hundreds of kilometres of charge in 20-30 minutes using a DC fast charger. However, bear in mind that charging efficiency depends on the EV and the charger's capability. You do not need to fully charge a vehicle; you simply need enough energy to get to the next stop.

Myth #2: EVs can’t travel far enough

This was an understandable belief when EVs first emerged, but it’s now outdated. The range of modern EVs has significantly improved, charging infrastructure is expanding, and faster charging options are becoming more prevalent … ultimately reducing overall charging times.

The reality: Take individual countries such as the UK, which is a highly representative example. Most drivers can get where they need in an EV because 99% of car journeys in the UK are under 100 kilometres. If you’re travelling further, there are over 30 models that have a 200-plus kilometre range. Many new EVs can now travel over 300 kilometres before needing a charge. There are over 40,000 public charge points available across the UK, of which nearly 8,000 are either rapid or ultra-rapid. Lastly, it’s worth remembering that public charge stations are supplementary to home charging.

Myth #3: Charging an EV is expensive

Another common misconception about EVs is that they’re too expensive. While there is an initial upfront investment, looking at the total cost of ownership (TCO) is essential and overall EVs are generally cheaper than standard combustion engine vehicles.

The reality: Although dependent on kilometres being driven per year, the TCO generally makes EVs cheaper than many of the standard internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The cost of charging an EV is typically lower than the cost of refuelling a conventional petrol or diesel-powered vehicle. The exact cost depends on the electricity rates in your area, but in many regions, charging an EV can be significantly cheaper per kilometre compared to petrol. Additionally, various utility programs and off-peak charging rates can further reduce charging costs.

A T&E analysis of household electricity prices in EU capitals (up-to-date national prices are not available) and weekly petrol and diesel prices shows that driving 100 kilometres with an average electric car in September 2022 cost about €6.50 — if the car was charged at home. Driving the same distance with a petrol car was on average 80% more expensive and 50% more expensive with a diesel.

Choosing electric makes even more sense in the context of maintenance. An electric motor is generally more efficient than an internal combustion engine as it’s not exposed to high pressures, friction and temperatures. The service life of an electric motor is 15-20 years and engines working for more than 40 years are no exceptions. In contrast, the average service life of an internal combustion engine is 8-10 years. Even batteries have a lifespan of 10 years today and even after 200,000 kilometres they do not show a significant reduction in their capacity. Excluding engine life, Volkswagen has calculated up to 35% savings on service costs of its EVs.

Myth #4: Charging an EV is complicated 

While it may be different from the refuelling process of a petrol car, charging an EV doesn't have to be complicated. 

The Reality: Charging an EV is generally straightforward and convenient. Here are a few key points to consider:

  • Home charging: Most EV owners primarily charge their vehicles at home. This is done by installing a dedicated home charging station. Once installed, you simply plug in your EV and let it charge overnight or when the vehicle is not in use.
  • Public charging: Public charging stations are becoming increasingly common and offer more convenience for on-the-go charging. These stations can be found at locations such as shopping centres, parking garages, workplaces and along major travel routes. Public charging stations come in different charging speed levels: AC charging and DC fast charging. Overall AC charging is more cost effective and charge times suit the dwelling time of typical parking (>2 hours). They are better suited for charging in the city rather than replacing a gas station along the highway.
  • Charging network apps and services: There are simple smartphone apps and online platforms that provide information about charging station locations, availability and sometimes real-time charging status. These services can help you locate nearby charging stations, plan your trips, and even provide payment options for charging sessions.

In addition, OCPI - which stands for Open Charge Point Interface -  is a protocol and set of specifications that enable communication between different EV charging networks. It allows EV drivers to use charging stations from different charging network operators seamlessly without needing separate memberships or accounts for each operator's network.

Myth #5: EV batteries degrade quickly

There are plenty of headlines putting EV batteries under scrutiny, with claims they need to be replaced as often as every five years. 

The reality: Modern EV batteries are designed to handle fast charging and last up to 8 years. While repeated use of fast chargers can contribute to slight battery degradation over time, EV manufacturers have implemented sophisticated battery management systems to minimize impact. Fast charging is generally safe and convenient for occasional or long-distance travel, but regular charging at a slower rate is recommended for daily use.

With currently over 10 million EVs on the world’s roads, there’s no evidence that their lifespans are lower than petrol or diesel vehicles. Most EV batteries have warranties of around 8 years (or 100,000 miles) but are expected to last much longer.

Myth #6: Public charging stations are hard to find, and EV charging infrastructure is insufficient. 

While charging infrastructure continues to expand, some people still perceive it as inadequate. 

The reality: The charging network is rapidly growing with an increasing number of public charging stations available in cities, along motorways and at various destinations. And many EV owners find it convenient to charge at home or at workplace charging stations, eliminating the need for frequent public charging. In fact, as electricity is available everywhere, a more salient truth has emerged - we don’t need to look for a conventional location to "fuel" anymore. With the growing amount of charging stations, the choices are abundant.

Finding a public charging station may seem daunting because they're not as numerous or visible as traditional filling stations. Still, downloading an app can help you find public EV chargers and determine if they're available. Your EV also helps you spot an available charging station. In public databases dedicated to charging station locations, the status of charge points is updated on a frequent basis, so you know if a charge point is occupied or available.

Myth #7: Charging an EV is bad for the environment, and EV batteries end up in the landfill

The materials used in batteries raise some environmental concerns from the raw materials used through to production and end use. 

The reality: Laws ban the disposal of batteries in landfill, plus there are lots of uses for batteries beyond their life in an EV. Manufacturers and governments are actively addressing these concerns with stricter regulations and transparency. Battery producers are obliged to take back EV batteries free of charge and ensure they are recycled according to regulatory standards – given the scarcity and price of battery materials, it’s in the industry’s commercial best interest to reuse them in a different application.

There’s also a perception that EVs are worse for the environment than fossil-fuel cars because of the pollution generated by the power plants generating the electricity. Research shows that even after accounting for electricity emissions, EVs are typically responsible for lower levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) than an average petrol or diesel car. According to this EEA report, GHG emissions of EVs were about 17-30% lower than the emissions of petrol and diesel cars. EV production is also expected to become more efficient, and the production of electricity cleaner with the life-cycle emissions of a typical EV cut by at least 73% every year by 2050.

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