There's things that need to be addresses...
Electric cars are BOOMING in popularity, especially now that Tesla made their Model 3 a very affordable car. Manufacturers like Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia are doubling down on having affordable electric cars that look good, have decent range, and can seat an entire family.
In the last 10 years, electric car tech has jumped leaps in terms of battery density, range, and overall affordability. Still today in 2021, electric cars are facing a few major problems that gasoline and diesel vehicles don’t.
Anyone can throw Tesla out there with their latest Model S or X cars and say “electric cars are becoming just like gas cars. Some can get 400 miles of range and charge up to 200 miles in 15 minutes”. That’s an exception and not the rule, most electric cars don’t go nearly that far and charge far longer.
Let’s break down the major issues worth noting thus far.
Winter Range VS Summer Range
The great thing about gas and diesel automobiles is (aside from fueling up in minutes) the ability to drive a very identical range from full to empty, no matter the temperature outside.
The one major problem with all battery-electric automobiles is the noticeable reduction in range, even during calm and paced driving. Strange huh?
As an owner of a Chevrolet Bolt EV, I know how to drive the car to get the maximum range. The car is rated for 238 miles of range on a full battery, but it was not long after I got it that I realized that number won’t be achieved unless I drove the car carefully and in reasonably warm conditions.
As to why electric cars perform poorly in cold weather I’ll cover in a seperate post, but the main takeaway here is the drastic range reduction when weather dips below freezing. If you wanted to know just how much, how about up to 40% lower than what you start out with.
As battery technology advances, I strongly believe this issue will get sorted out and won’t be on anyone’s thoughts.
On at least a few occasions, people have come up to me and asked “how long does it take for you to fuel up… I mean charge up the car, 10, 15 minutes?”… I told them, it actually takes as little as 50 minutes for me to get 80% or up to 45 hours at my home’s 110-volt power supply.
Their enthusiasm usually dies and they pity my situation, thinking why I’m putting up with this.
The reality of the matter is yes, everything will get better over time and charging times will be reduced by a significant margin in the near future.
Charging electric cars nowadays can pose a problem for people who cannot adjust to the lifestyle of living with an EV. It’s definitely a slower pace of life. Charging most EVs using 220 volts will give you a full charge in as little as 3-4 hours to anywhere between 10-12 hours (depending on the battery size).
Charging electric vehicles using 440-volt systems during road trips adds a considerable amount of time to the trip. For example, a trip from Washington DC to Little Rock, Arkansas could take 17 hours in a regular car. Add about 8-12 charging stops to the mix and the trip could easily take 7-10 hours longer. Tesla at the moment comes as close to “regular car refueling” speeds as anything can get. Porsche also has insanely high charging speeds (compared to everything else on the market), allowing you to charge up to 50 miles in just 5 minutes.
While charging speeds are slow, be optimistic. They will improve!
Cost to Purchase
By looking at the current market for cheap, reliable vehicles, you’ll find endless supplies of Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, and many others for less than $10,000. One of the biggest benefits to gas powered vehicles is their enormous supply of them.
It’s easy to preach the amount of money one could save by driving an electric vehicle, until they check a price for a brand new Hyundai Kona EV or a Nissan Leaf and some have second thoughts. Of course without government incentives and tax rebates, prices for electric cars is at a bare minimum, $25-$30K grand new. Not exactly affordable, is it?
Electric cars have come a long way when it comes to price. In the used market, you can snatch a few 75-100 miles of range EV’s for less than $10K (great for local driving). However, if you want REAL 200+ miles of range, something you can take on a serious road trip, expect to pay anywhere between $25-$30K. The like China, the United States has a plethora of electric cars, many of which you can find for next to nothing.
If you keep up with the market in a few short years, most EVs will cost about half of what they are worth now. The Chevrolet Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf are great examples of that.
Finding Charging Stations
You gotta give Tesla credit for having the most reliable charging network on earth (at the moment). One of the most common questions about electric cars is: where are the charging stations?
Truth be told, at the moment, unless you live in a metropolitan city, you’ll find charging stations every 40-80 miles. Some towns have multiple fast chargers available, but at the moment, networks like Electrify America are taking a strong hold in the US and Canada for having a strong, competitive charging network that any electric vehicle can use. With that being said, that network is not without its problems. I know first hand.
Electrify America has 24/7 customer service, that is great. However, if you arrive at a charging station like Electrify America and it does not want to initiate a charging session… you may be in trouble. In many places, that on EA station is the only fast charger in the vicinity. There could be one or two 220 volt stations at a dealer or a public park, otherwise, you may be stranded OR, you’ll have to extend your trip by a few hours (not to mention the additional headache).
Finding charging stations is getting better, especially with EV friendly apps like PlugShare. With proper planning, you can drive across the entire United States in a non-Tesla vehicle. There’s a high likelihood that you’ll encounter some charger that gives you a problem. To ensure your experience is as smooth as possible, carry with yourself a level 2 charger that you can easily plug into a NEMA 14-50 outlet (or similar).
Difficulty Finding a Technician
If you’ve ever taken a car to a mechanic, you know dealers charger a lot more than independently owned shops. In some cases, the dealers won’t provide as good of a service AND still charge you more. Unless you have a high-end vehicle, an independent shop can save you a ton of money.
Repairing your electric vehicle beyond basic headlights, brakes, tires, and steering components, requires specialized knowledge of that vehicle. Because there are very few shops that can work on electric vehicles, your options are limited to going to the dealer.
Electric vehicles are lower maintenance, but once a high-dollar item goes bad, you better have a warranty to prepared to cover the tab.
There are Limited Options
When it comes to having options, at the moment, there are nowhere near as many with electric cars as there are with traditionally gas powered ones. Do you want an electric minivan, if you live in the United States, the closest thing you can buy is a Chrysler Pacifica PHEV, and this car is not even full-electric (plug-in hybrid only). If you go to Europe, you can buy the Nissan e-NV200 and the Mercedes EQV. Moving on to an SUV with a few more options than vans. The gold standard for SUV’s is the Tesla Model X and Audi E-Tron. If you want something more compact, you can choose between the Tesla Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volvo XC40, Hyundai Kona EV, Kia Niro EV, and Jaguar i-Pace.
There are plenty of hatchback and sedans, but when it comes to trucks… at the moment there are NONE available. Some promising vehicles coming in the next few years are the Ford F-150 electric, Rivian R1T and Hummer EV SUT.
The lack of choice may be a negative at the moment, but I can bet by 2025, there will be 5X more options available from manufacturers you are already familiar with.
Since the Ford F-150 is the most popular truck in the USA, imagine how popular the electric F-150 will be.
Dangerous for DIY Technicians
Are you an electrician, if now… you may be putting your life at risk by working on your own car. These electric vehicles are no joke, the orange wires throughout electric and hybrid vehicles carry very high voltage.
Working on an electric vehicle beyond simply things like tires, brakes, bulbs, and car radio can be a risky thing to handle. The great thing about electric cars nowadays is you can check the health of your vehicle (and the battery) by using a simple Bluetooth obd2 adapter. Apps like Torque PRO can give you access to the cars battery and show you at a very basic level how its holding up, what other errors are coming up, and much more.
Is it all DOOM and GLOOM?
With all the things above being said, let me share with you the outlook that I see based on the news coming out.
The industry is evolving very fast, like how the last century has given us so much in terms of abundant technology, the ability to become wealthy and with so many additional opportunities that did not exist before.
Electric cars just a decade ago were limited to the Nissan Leaf 24kWh, Tesla Roadster 1.0, and the Mitsubishi iMIEV.
Today in 2021, we have many more electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids to choose from that are VERY user friendly. It has been just over one decade since things really took off, you gotta give credit to where we’ve come so far.
Without a doubt, the next few years are looking VERY optimistic with electric and plug-in hybrid cars are the future. You’ve heard that before, haven’t ya?
Everything from the Tesla Roadster 2.0, Tesla Cybertruck, Ford F-150 pickup, and so much more are in store for everyone. The charging infrastructure is getting better every year, with some of the current electric cars being able to charge to 80% in less than 30 minutes (Tesla and Porsche take the win so far).
Did you know Volvo promised to make all their cars 100% electric by 2030? Yes, some manufacturers are THAT serious about this growing change. Stay tuned, there’s news about electric vehicles every single day.