The adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) have surged over the past decade with over 11 million EVs registered globally at the end of 2020. This number is poised to grow up to 145 million, accounting for 7% of road transportation, by the end of 2030. While EVs are becoming more mainstream, many still view them with scepticism. Below are seven myths and common misconceptions about electric vehicles and why they are incorrect.
Misconception 1: “Electric Vehicles Are Just as Harmful to the Environment”
One of the biggest misconceptions about electric vehicles is that they are bad for the environment. EVs do not produce CO2 to run but it contributes to carbon emissions during its manufacture and electricity generation for charging. Critics often question if its “lifetime” carbon emissions are any lower than conventional vehicles.
However, a study last year found that in 95% of the world, driving an electric car generates a lower carbon footprint over its lifetime as compared to fossil fuel-powered cars. Lifetime emissions are over 70% lower in countries that use renewable energy such as Sweden and France. The study also projects one in two cars to be electric by 2050, which would reduce global carbon emissions by up to 1.5 gigatonnes annually, equivalent to the total emissions of Russia.
Misconception 2: “EVs Are Too Expensive”
EVs are typically (at least USD$13,000) more expensive than conventional vehicles largely because of the cost of its battery, which makes up 30% of total costs. However, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the steady reductions in battery prices will eventually bring down the total purchase and operational costs of EVs to below that of conventional fuel vehicles by 2025. Lithium-ion battery costs have already dropped significantly since 2010 and are expected to drop a further 65% from 2015-30 to well below USD$120 per kWh. Further, drivers could also expect to pay a lower vehicle tax in countries such as Germany and the UK, which actively support the use of EVs.
Misconception 3: “EVs Are Slow and Have a Limited Range”
While the top speeds of most EVs still lag behind fossil fuel-powered cars, many are already exceeding the maximum speed limits allowed in most parts of the world, making them fast enough for routine use. EVs also accelerate faster than fuel-powered cars as their electric motors are much simpler than internal combustion engines, which take a longer time to generate power to the wheels.
The range of newer EV models have also improved significantly and many already match that of fuel-powered cars. An average fuel-powered car can reach up to 480km on a full tank while most electric cars can reach 200-490km on a single charge, which is well above the average driving distance of 40-90km per day. Luxury electric car models such as the Tesla Model S could even go up to 610km on a single charge.
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Misconception 4: “EVs Take a Long Time to Charge”
Drivers are accustomed to filling their gas tank in less than five minutes while it could take them up to a night to charge an electric car with a domestic power outlet. However, recent developments in technology and the installation of charging stations and home charging points have drastically reduced the charging time for EVs. EVs could get up to 80% charged in 30 minutes at the fastest charging stations. In five to 10 years, new lithium ion batteries could reduce recharge rates further to 20 minutes or less.
Misconception 5: “EVs Are a Fire Hazard”
Lithium ion batteries burn differently from fossil fuel engines – they do produce quite poisonous fluoride gases when on fire but take a much longer time to grow in intensity, giving the driver a better chance of escaping before the fire spreads. In addition, EVs are statistically safer than conventional vehicles – fossil fuel cars are 20 times more likely to catch fire than EVs and they are far more likely to kill you as a result, too.
Misconception 6: “Batteries Deteriorate Too Quickly”
EVs charge in a smart manner, only replenishing depleted cells, which distributes the energy load across the many thousands of cells that make up the entire battery. A study found that Tesla cars show a mere 10% average battery degradation after over 160,000 miles – most fossil fuel cars would have been scrapped by then.
When the battery’s lifespan is exceeded, it does not necessarily have to be dumped in a landfill. Companies such as Volkswagen have set up recycling plants to return raw materials from batteries such as nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium back to the manufacturing process chain.
Misconception 7: “There Are Not Enough Raw Materials for Batteries”
Another one of the many misconceptions of electric vehicles is the volume of raw materials required for batteries. While the demand for lithium-ion batteries for the production of electric cars alone could increase by up to 33% by 2025, a shortage of raw materials including cobalt and lithium in the near future is unlikely. Experts estimate that global reserves could last for over 150 years. Nonetheless, EV companies are building a sustainable supply chain by improving the efficiency and lifespan of batteries, researching other materials and technologies such as cobalt-free battery cells and recycling old batteries to reuse raw materials.