Common myths about EVs
Despite a more than doubling of the numbers of electric vehicles on Australian roads in the last year, misconceptions and misunderstanding about EVs persist. The infamous ‘end the weekend’ line from the previous government still colours the perception some people have of zero emission vehicles. As the need to reduce vehicle emissions is clearer than ever before, it’s time to dispel some myths.
EVs lack power.
‘Aren’t they slow to get away at the lights?’ A question I heard recently. Far from it. Electric motors have substantially more torque than internal combustion motors, so EVs accelerate instantly. The simplicity of electric motors, and the lack of gears, means the power is applied to the wheels more directly. Think about how home appliances with electric motors operate and you’ll get an idea. For petrol heads, check out one of the YouTube videos comparing the two types of vehicle.
Aren’t they hard to stop?
Quite the contrary. Lifting the accelerator turns the motor into a generator, meaning the car has to turn the motor, rather than the other way round, assisting in stopping as well as adding charge back into the battery. The brakes also come on, giving EVs very substantial stopping power when combined with the braking power of the motor. If you use ‘one pedal driving’ mode, the brake pedal is hardly used, with the motor doing the most of the stopping. A benefit of this is reduced tyre wear that comes with engine braking.
You could run out of battery.
And ICE (internal combustion engine), cars can run out of fuel. Either way, you have a dilemma, however EVs have the advantage that they can be recharged (slowly), from a domestic power socket wherever you find yourself. EVs also have extremely accurate computer systems which predict the level of battery charge at the destination and can suggest charging stations along the way, if this is necessary. After our second 7000+ km trip from Melbourne to Cairns and back, we are yet to run out of charge.
It takes forever to recharge an EV
If you plug in to your domestic power, it can seem like forever, however most owners upgrade to faster 3-phase outlets for home use. Public chargers are far quicker. The fast highway charger at Townsville added just on 1/3 of the battery capacity and around 130 km in 29 minutes – enough time to freshen up and have a coffee. Local free charging stations set up by Banyule City Council take around 3 times that to charge – enough time to do some shopping.
You have to charge EVs 3 times a day
Highway travel means you are likely to stop once or twice, depending on the length of the trip, giving you time for a coffee and lunch. With a range of around 300-400km for most EVs, urban driving will often need little more than once-a-week public charging. Charging at home is as simple as plugging in for a convenient top-up.
EVs are no better for the planet than ICE vehicles
A lot has been written (and said), about ’embodied energy’ and charging EVs on a primarily coal-fired electricity grid, to imply that EVs may be no better (and possibly worse), than ICE vehicles for sustainability.
In fact, research is clear that taking all factors into account, EVs come out as significantly better for the environment than ICE vehicles. Rather than go into detail here, I suggest you read the Which Car report and also the Carbon Brief fact check.
As Australia makes the transition to renewable energy use, the advantages of EVs in this respect will be even greater. Charging your car from solar panels at home while the sun shines, together with improvements in battery recycling, and improvements in battery manufacture will continue to make the case for EVs.
All of this is alongside the immediate ‘roadside advantage’ of EVs. Petrol and diesel vehicles put out significant levels of pollution, affecting pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. For information on vehicle pollution see this article on auto.howstuffworks.com and this article on the Green Vehicle guide. Evs are ZEVs (Zero Emission Vehicles)
EVs cost too much
You can certainly spend a fair amount of money on an EV, but there are plenty of ICE vehicles more expensive than the most common EV – the Tesla 3 (originally mid-$60,000s). Companies like The Good Car Company also offer tested and guaranteed second hand vehicles starting at under $20,000.
Add to this that the ongoing costs of running an EV are substantially less than an ICE vehicle. With fewer running parts, servicing costs are often negligible (our servicing is free for the first 5 years).
Charging costs can also be small. Our initial Melbourne to Cairns and return journey cost around $350 in charging, helped by some free charging. Free charging at shopping centres is another cost-saver, as is charging from your own rooftop solar.
EV charging is hard to find since public chargers aren’t in petrol stations
Not at all. In fact, they are far easier to find than petrol stations. EV navigation (Google, in most cases), includes locations of EV charging stations. Coupled with the accurate predictions from the car’s systems about when you’ll need to charge, it’s really very simple. Several petrol station chains are including EV chargers and we can expect this will expand rapidly.
In addition, mobile phone apps (Plugshare is the most common one and covers global charging stations), show location, cost (if any) and local amenities. They also allow drivers to show when they are charging and any additional information that might help other EV owners.
But it doesn’t sound like a car
Yep. Hard to dispute that. Apart from some road noise, EVs are virtually silent. Sorry petrol heads.
Sustainability of EVs
Written by Paul Gale-Baker