Eight electric vehicle myths dispelled

With global heads of state already descending on Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit, now is the time to find and agree upon methods to lower our collective carbon emissions. David Savage, Associate Vice President, UK and Ireland, at Geotab – the world’s largest commercial telematics company – shares his thoughts on the current state of the electric vehicle market.

Reflected in the UK’s recently published Net Zero Strategy, finding ways to reduce harmful emissions within the transport sector will be crucial to our climate action efforts, with the industry producing 27% of the UK’s total emissions, making it the largest contributing sector to greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicles (EVs) have come to form the cornerstone of our strategy to decarbonise the sector.

However, public perception must be positive and welcoming of the switch to electric before we see widespread adoption. Currently, anxiety and uncertainty permeate both the consumer and fleet business EV market. Many myths persist around the performance, price and efficiency of EVs which could deter adoption and cloud people’s purchasing decisions. To alleviate some of these doubts, let’s take a closer look at eight myths amongst the most frequently cited.

  1. Range anxiety: “An electric vehicle won’t cover the range I need it to”

Range anxiety is amongst the top reservations people have about switching to electric. The truth is, electric vehicle drivers demonstrate a tendency to be over-cautious when estimating range. Knowledge is the greatest tool in soothing anxieties. Proper preparation through planning routes and scheduling charging routines will take the majority of drivers to where they need to go smoothly and without running out of battery. Simple proactive charging and planning habits are easy to incorporate into everyday life and will ensure more than adequate range for the bulk of EV users.

  1. Maintenance costs: “Running an electric vehicle is expensive”

In reality, the fewer moving parts and the absence of particulate accumulation reduces the maintenance costs of electric vehicles in comparison to petrol and diesel vehicles. Common maintenance issues with internal combustion vehicles such as defective spark plugs or damaged timing belts, aren’t a factor with electric vehicles as they do not have these components and therefore do not incur the related maintenance costs. An EV’s brakes are also subject to less wear due to regenerative braking systems, which captures and recovers the energy otherwise lost in friction, placing much less strain on brake pads.

  1. Battery degradation: “EV batteries are expensive and must be replaced frequently”

As well as reduced maintenance costs, EV batteries also need to be replaced far less frequently than many assume. The battery is typically the most expensive component within an electric vehicle and as such, its health and lifespan will greatly affect the vehicle’s residual value. Because of varying makes and models, as well as contributing factors like driving style, typical operating temperature, and use in high or low charge states, it is difficult to find an answer on an EV battery’s lifespan. However, now we have the data to make accurate estimates relative to specific vehicle makes and models through battery degradation tools. This reassures customers how long they can expect to get out of their specific battery, with the average coverage for today’s batteries hovering around 8 years or 100,000 miles.

  1. Pricey: “EVs are more expensive than their petrol or diesel counterparts”

It is true that the upfront costs of an EV remain a barrier for entry for many consumers, but thankfully we are seeing these costs tumble as price parity nears ever closer. Further to this, when purchasing a new vehicle it is recommended to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) in addition or even above the upfront costs. Research from Geotab has shown that almost four-in-ten fleet vehicles in the UK could switch to electric today and save money over the course of the vehicle’s life. Between reduced vehicle maintenance and the lower cost of electricity in comparison to fuel, EVs very often represent much better value for the consumer in the long run.

  1. Lack of choice: “There is a limited choice of electric vehicles on the market” 

It is a common misconception that consumers are restricted in their options when looking to purchase an electric vehicle. Over the past two or three years, options have dramatically increased, with over 350 models available globally and around 130 models across multiple segments available in the UK. This variety will only expand and diversify as technology develops and demand and necessity builds. The majority of car manufacturers offer electric models, presenting consumers with a wide variety of price points, brands and styles. As we transition from internal combustion engines to electric, there are numerous categories of electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles that offer more choice to drivers seeking to dip their toe into electric and find the option best-suited to their personal requirements.

  1. Infrastructure: “There are not enough charging stations for EVs”

It is certainly true that the UK must continue to invest in infrastructure for EVs as they become increasingly popular. This fact is reflected in the Government’s Net Zero Strategy, with funding of £620 million allocated for zero emission vehicle grants and EV Infrastructure, including further funding for local EV Infrastructure, with a focus on local and on street residential charging. However, while we await continued and increased investment in infrastructure, it is important to note that a large portion of EV drivers are already well served by existing stations and especially where charging stations are available either at home or in work.

  1. Energy usage: “EVs will overload the power grid”

Electric cars rely on charging from the local electricity network, whether that is primarily driven by renewables or coal-fired power plants. Even accounting for electricity produced by fossil fuels, carbon dioxide emissions from battery-powered vehicles were around 40 per cent lower than for internal combustion engines last year. In short, EVs remain a far more efficient means of transport than an internal combustion engine vehicle and will increasingly become so as we further transition to renewables. Even shorter, the future is electric. With this acknowledged, it’s possible to scale the electric grid in accordance with rising EV numbers. Research from BloombergNEF, has shown that even fully electrifying all of road transport, would add just 25% to global electricity demand in 2050.

  1. Fun: “Driving electric vehicles is boring”

Whilst the reduced noise may initially confuse self-proclaimed petrolheads, the fast, smooth, and responsive acceleration of electric vehicles typically takes them by surprise. While internal combustion cars require many revolutions to reach maximum torque, electric cars have access to all of the torque right away, generating much faster acceleration. In addition to being essential in specific driving cases – such as merging onto the motorway – faster acceleration makes driving fun! More than just a subjective sentiment, almost 80% of Euopeans surveyed in a recent Nissan study, confirmed that they are satisfied with their experience in an electric vehicle, and find it to be even better than expected.

Electric vehicles represent the sustainable future of mobility. Over many decades, we have grown comfortable with the familiarity of petrol and diesel vehicles and so it is to be expected that such a pivotal shift in automotive technology will be accompanied by scepticism and uncertainty. While sustained investment is required, it’s important to eliminate those unfounded myths which may hinder wider adoption. Taking all factors into consideration, EVs offer a hugely enjoyable, efficient and most importantly, sustainable driving experience.