There are many false claims in circulation regarding electric vehicles and their performance and efficiency. David Savage, associate vice president, UK and Ireland, at Geotab breaks down some of the most common misconceptions.

As electric vehicles become more commonplace on our roads, it is important to address the anxiety and uncertainty shrouding their performance, ongoing maintenance and overall impact in climate action efforts. In light of the UK and Ireland’s upcoming ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, a sustained effort to build a common understanding of electric alternatives can help to allay the fears of consumers and fleet managers alike.

Many of the points frequently referenced in the criticism of electric vehicles (EVs) don’t stand up to scrutiny, while other ideas regarding their performance are inaccurate. In order to alleviate doubts and highlight the beneficial qualities of electric vehicles, let’s take a closer look at eight of the most frequently cited myths.

1. An electric vehicle won’t cover the range I need it to

Range anxiety is among the top reservations people have about switching to electric. The truth is, electric vehicle drivers show 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.

2. Maintenance of electric vehicles 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 capture and recover the energy otherwise lost in friction, placing much less strain on brake pads.

3. Electric vehicle batteries must be fully charged for best performance

Electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries of various shapes with a high energy density and, compared to other types of batteries, their charge is less likely to diminish when not in use. However, lithium-ion batteries are naturally subject to deterioration over time and their ability to store energy and provide power does decrease with use. That said, there are some precautions that can prolong their lifespan, such as monitoring the state of charge. Contrary to popular belief, a very high charge for long periods of time does not contribute to a longer battery life. In fact, this increases the battery’s stress levels, as does an excessively low state of charge. It is therefore advisable, especially during periods of inactivity, to avoid keeping your charge completely full or completely empty.

4. Electric vehicles are more dangerous than combustion engines due to battery chemicals

Not only are electric vehicles safe, they can be considered safer than their petrol and diesel equivalents. In addition to the high safety standards put in place to prevent the leaking of chemicals, electric vehicles also offer important structural advantages. For example, the space in a vehicle usually occupied by a combustion engine can instead be used as a wider deformation area, capable of absorbing energy during a collision and therefore providing greater protection to the driver and passengers. Furthermore, the positioning of the battery pack lowers the centre of gravity of the vehicle and distributes weight more evenly, minimising any risk of the vehicle overturning.

5. 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, but this no longer holds true. Over the past two or three years, options have dramatically increased and 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.

6. Weather conditions do not affect battery life

The heating and cooling systems of an electric car are kept running by the same battery that powers the vehicle. Consequently, the distance possible from a single charge varies considerably according to the temperature. Geotab data has shown that the ideal temperature for the operation of an electric vehicle is around 21.5°C. However, if there is no way to control the climate there are some precautions that can improve battery economy. In winter, for example, a heated steering wheel and seats use less energy than a traditional car heating system. Meanwhile, in summer it is preferable to only turn on the fan and not the air conditioning, or to lower the windows if the temperatures allow it.

7. Electric vehicles cannot self-charge

Electric vehicles can self-charge through a feature known as ‘regenerative braking’, which sends kinetic energy to the battery every time the driver brakes. Therefore, by gradually decelerating, it is possible to recover most of the energy used by the car to brake, thus optimising efficiency. One of the features of regenerative braking is that it does not allow the driver to recharge their battery to the maximum level before a journey because, unlike combustion vehicles, electric vehicles can regain energy whilst driving.

8. Driving electric vehicles is boring

Whilst the reduced noise may initially confuse self-proclaimed petrolheads, it is the fast, smooth and responsive acceleration of electric vehicles that takes them by surprise. While internal combustion cars require many revolutions to reach maximum torque, electric cars have access to the majority of 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 Europeans 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. Geotab therefore considers it important to educate the public on the facts behind electric vehicles so as to eliminate myths and build a comprehensive understanding. Taking all factors into consideration, EVs offer a hugely enjoyable, efficient and most importantly, sustainable driving experience.

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