For everybody out there who is thinking about buying an electric vehicle, I want to save some of you from a lifetime of regret.
Oh, sure; electric automobiles are perfectly fine if your travels keep you close to home. And there is a seemingly endless parade of people these days who will tell you that electric vehicles (EVs) are far superior to cars that are powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE). But are they really?
Well … the truth is, once you get past the hype and separate wishful thinking from reality, it’s easy to see that electric vehicles are inferior to their under-appreciated, unjustly-maligned ICE counterparts in many important ways — which is probably why one in five people who purchase an electric vehicle in California eventually abandon the technology.
With that in mind, here are more than a few good reasons why the hype about electric vehicles isn’t what it’s cracked up to be:
1. Range … or lack thereof. Thanks to technological improvements, the median electric vehicle can travel slightly more than 250 miles on a full charge — which is adequate for relatively local hops. But not so much if you’re planning on longer trips with modest stretches between population centers.
2. “Fill-ups” take time. Unless you’re driving an RV or an 18-wheeler, it only takes a few minutes to fill an ICE fuel tank. On the other hand, recharging EV batteries takes much longer. Of course, the charging station is a big factor: a Level 1 charging station (120V) typically takes 40 hours for 200 miles of range, while a Level 2 station (240V) can deliver the same range in eight hours. As for those “high-speed” Level 3 charging stations at offices and commercial places? They still take an hour to deliver 250 miles. As a result …
3. Public charging stations are in high demand. Unfortunately, that means when you find one, they’re usually already occupied. So if you’re, say, second in line, you’ll be waiting somewhere between two to three hours for that “high-speed” charge. Yikes. What’s that old saying about time and money?
4. They’re not environmentally friendly. It takes roughly 3.75 kW of power to dry an average load of laundry. Now compare that with the approximately 50 kW of power required to fully charge a standard range Tesla Model 3 — that’s equivalent to drying more than 13 loads of laundry, not to mention a significant burden on the power grid.
5. Choices are limited. While the internal combustion engine vehicle industry has been around for more than a century, manufacturing lines for modern electric vehicles are far younger. So it shouldn’t be surprising that there are fewer available models to choose from.
6. They’re not very efficient in hot weather. It’s no secret that EV performance degrades on hot days. A recent study by AAA found that with an outside air temp of 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the air conditioning on, EV driving range can decrease by 17%. That could be a problem for someone who wants to travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in the middle of August. Then again …
7. They’re not very efficient in cold weather either. Unlike gasoline powered vehicles that can warm the cabin with waste heat, EVs depend solely on their batteries, which reduces their range. In fact, that same AAA study found that the average driving range of electric vehicles decreases by 41% when the outside temp is 20 degrees Fahrenheit — and that may be conservative. During one severe cold snap, owners of Chevy Bolts and Tesla Model 3s told CNBC they saw up to 50% less range.
8. They’re not environmentally friendly (Part 2). The Tesla Model 3 has more than 1000 pounds of batteries loaded with toxic heavy metals. Even worse, those batteries have a limited lifespan — which means you can bet almost all of them will eventually end up in a landfill. (Probably one near you.)
9. Electricity costs will increase with rising demand. It’s a fact; as the number of EVs on the road increases, the demand for electricity will increase as well, driving up operating costs. One reason for that is …
10. The infrastructure to support EVs isn’t there. California’s power grid operators began asking residents in 2021 to “relieve pressure” by charging their EVs during off-peak hours. If this is already a problem when EVs make up a tiny fraction of all cars on the road, what kind of pressure will the grid be subjected to when their popularity increases at even a modest pace? Yes, that pressure might be relieved once the additional infrastructure is in place. But there’s a catch …
11. The infrastructure will be expensive. The wires and charging stations needed to charge all those electric vehicles have to be paid by somebody. Of course, “somebody” will be the ratepayers, driving electricity prices even higher. But wait … it gets better: The wacky environmentalists who want to rid the world of cars with internal combustion engines, are the same people who also oppose the utility-scale solar farms that will be required to help satisfy growing EV demand in the absence of oil, coal and gas-based electricity generation (which they vehemently oppose too).
12. They’re not environmentally friendly (Part 3). By the way, any energy to power EVs that doesn’t come from clean solar, wind or hydroelectric power sources, results in higher CO2 emissions than most people realize because any fossil-fuel generated electricity used to charge those EVs has already released the CO2 “pollution” at the power plant. Which is why …
13. They’re not environmentally friendly (Part 4). A 2018 study by Jonathan Lesser, using data from none other than the US Energy Information Administration, found that “widespread adoption of electric vehicles nationwide will likely increase air pollution compared with new internal combustion vehicles.” Yes; increase pollution.
14. Electric vehicles are expensive. You can expect to pay $10,000 or more for fully-electric models of their gas-powered equivalents. Much of this can be attributed to the high cost of EV batteries. And EVs become even more expensive when you realize their batteries need to be replaced approximately every eight years. This is just one reason why:
15. EVs require government subsidies to be competitive with ICE cars. QED.
16. Public charging stations can be difficult to find. While gas stations are ubiquitous, public high speed Level 3 charging stations are still anything but. Unfortunately, you can’t take your home charging station with you on a long road trip — which is really bad news for the psychologically-fragile EV consumer base who suffers from range anxiety. The good news is there’s an expensive — but highly-reliable — portable charger for EVs on the market. Here’s the punchline: It runs on gasoline.
Photo Credit: Ivan Radic