Busting the myths: seven misconceptions about electric vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly commonplace on European roads, with businesses helping drive the charge towards a more sustainable future.
However, despite upcoming bans on fossil-fuelled vehicles, there is still hesitancy amongst fleets – and their drivers – to make the electric transition. In many cases, concerns are underpinned by misconceptions.
So, here, we’ve set out to debunk some of the most common – and uncommon – myths.
Myth 1: EVs will cost you more
The overall cost of an EV is probably one of the most common misconceptions.
Many consider the larger initial payment to be indicative of the costs to come over its lifetime. But fleets should calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) to get the full picture.
TCO takes account of the cost of procuring, operating and maintaining the vehicle and so several factors, from energy and depreciation costs to environmental charges and purchase incentives, should be taken into account.
By modelling costs in this way, EVs can prove a more cost-effective option over their lifecycle than ICE equivalents.
Myth 2: Service and maintenance costs are more expensive
Despite EVs having a higher upfront cost, service and maintenance expenses are typically lower than those of ICE vehicles. In fact, research indicates that EV service and maintenance costs could be up to 23 per cent less over a typical three-year, 60,000-mile period.
One of the biggest reasons for this is the comparatively smaller number of moving parts in an EV – less than 20 compared to 2,000 in a conventional vehicle. What’s more, an EV’s regenerative braking function reduces wear and tear as it allows for more efficient braking.
While EVs might be cheaper to maintain, however, that doesn’t mean they can be driven with less care. Regular training should be provided to educate drivers on how to operate EVs safely and efficiently, particularly in light of the high costs associated with EV components.
Myth 3: EVs compromise safety
Just like conventional vehicles, EVs undergo rigorous safety tests to meet strict regulations before they hit the road. In fact, due to their heavy battery packs and the need to absorb greater energy during a collision, it has been suggested that manufacturers may work even harder to ensure their crashworthiness.
Despite this, safety concerns around EV batteries persist. Whilst there are indeed flammable materials in the lithium-ion batteries used to power EVs, concerns in this area are largely exaggerated. Research has found that pure EVs are far less likely to set alight than ICE or hybrid vehicles.
Myth 4: EV batteries don’t last
EV batteries have come a long way in recent years, particularly in terms of their durability and longevity, shattering misconceptions around their longevity.
Advancements in battery technologies have helped significantly extend battery life, with current life expectancies of between 15 to 20 years and many manufacturers offering guarantees of up to eight years.
EV batteries do experience a gradual loss of power capacity over their lifetime due to the charge cycles they undergo, in a similar vein to mobile phones. However, battery manufacturers have developed ways to minimise the impact of this phenomenon.
Batteries are ‘buffered’ so motorists do not use the pack’s full capacity, reducing the number of charge cycles, preventing overcharging and limiting degradation.
Additionally, manufacturers advise not to charge to maximum capacity, instead recommending a range of between 20 and 80 per cent to alleviate battery strain. The majority of EVs now have a setting for motorists to set their desired charge limit and once this limit is reached, the charging process automatically stops.
Myth 5: You can’t tow an EV
From tyre damage to running out of charge, there are multiple reasons why an EV could breakdown.
However, many worry that battery-powered vehicles cannot be towed – and technically, this is correct.
Most EV manufacturers warn against towing as EVs tend not to have a neutral gear. As such, if you try to tow in drive or reverse, kinetic energy will build and can end up damaging the battery and motor.
For EVs with a towing or neutral mode, they can be disconnected from the drivetrain to prevent harm to the vehicle, but those that don’t should be loaded onto a flat-bed truck and transported.
Fortunately, breakdown companies are finding innovative ways to address this issue. The AA in the UK, for example, has rolled out its ‘freewheeling hub’ across its patrol fleet, meaning its vans can now tow an EV without the latter’s wheels touching the road.
Myth 6: You can’t charge an EV when it’s too cold
In cold weather, the ions in the EV battery find it difficult to move around, reducing the range of the vehicle. However, low temperatures need not stop you from charging your vehicle.
An EV has a battery management system (BMS) which helps limit charging speed to protect the battery when cold weather hits and if the temperature is too low, the battery must be warmed up before it can charge. Some EVs have a preconditioning mode which offers drivers the convenience of scheduling the preheating of the battery to its optimal temperature, saving them valuable time.
Myth 7: Charging at home is expensive, will overload the system and will complicate reimbursement
Home charging offers businesses a convenient, cost-effective way to power fleet vehicles.
It saves fleet drivers making unnecessary journeys back to base to charge, decreases the reliance on public charging and ensures vehicles are ready to go at the start of each working day.
There are concerns, however, that rising energy costs will cause charging costs to rocket. But for now, at least, in most cases home charging remains a cheaper option that petrol or diesel.
In terms of reimbursements, the latest charge points are often connected, allowing organisations to easily keep track the electricity being used by drivers so they can be accurately compensated. Some energy companies also allow users to separate out personal and business electricity use, while other forward-thinking businesses use technology to directly pay their drivers’ energy bills.
Drivers shouldn’t worry about overloading their home’s electrical supply either. EV chargers are typically installed on their own dedicated circuit to ensure they have their own supply, while some chargers have capabilities to slow or pause a session should it near the building’s limit. Smart charging technologies can further optimise the charging process by allowing the driver to control how much energy a plugged-in EV can use.