Man taking a bag out of the boot of a white Tesla Model 3

Mythbusting: Disproving 10 myths about electric cars

by Onto|

Think EVs (electric vehicles) can’t be charged in the rain, catch fire, or are nothing more than oversized golf carts? Think again.

Have you heard the rumours about electric cars?

As with any emerging sector, there are numerous rumours and myths about electric cars. But most are based on little to no evidence. We take a deeper look at 10 of the most prolific myths about EVs. 

Myth 1: If everyone switched to an EV, the National Grid couldn't cope with the power surge

It’s all very well some people driving electric cars, but what would happen if everyone plugged in at the same time? Despite this prevailing myth, experts are not concerned about the demand EVs will place on the Grid. 

National Grid head of future markets Graeme Cooper explained that energy demand has declined by 16% over the past two decades. Speaking at a Fully Charged panel in 2019, he credited renewable energy sources such as solar panels on roofs and the evolution of more efficient technology as the driving forces behind this decrease. If everyone got an EV, demand would increase by around 10% but still remain below peak 2002 levels.

Most electric cars are plugged in overnight to recharge, just like mobile phones, which actually stabilises power demand. It may become more expensive to charge an EV during peak hours, such as between 5-7pm. But otherwise, experts suggest electric-car load is predictable, manageable and welcome.

Myth 2: You can’t take an EV through a car wash or charge it in the rain 

People are (perhaps understandably) nervous about electricity and water. But all electric cars go through a rigorous set of safety tests and there is no threat of electric shock while charging or driving through deep puddles. 

To disprove this myth, Nissan in Japan once drove a Nissan Leaf through a 70-centimetre-deep ford, which it managed easily. The batteries and accompanying electric systems in EVs are isolated and equipped with such extensive safety systems that it’s almost impossible for water to come into direct contact with the batteries themselves. 

Myth 3: EVs need their batteries replaced every few years

While smartphones and laptop batteries decline significantly after three years, EV lithium-ion batteries can go the distance. The car maintains an optimal operating environment for its battery, with liquid or air-based cooling systems to keep the battery at around 25℃. 

Many electric vehicles will never need their batteries replaced and when they do come to the end of their lives (after around 100,000 miles or 14 years); they’ll be able to have second and third lives too. Many of the cells will be repurposed to store energy from renewable sources such as solar panels or otherwise recycled – up to 98% of the materials can be extracted and reused.

Woman sitting in the driver's seat of a Fiat 500

Myth 4: You can’t use EVs for long journeys

The average car journey is less than 10 miles in the UK, but so-called ‘range anxiety’ is still one of the top reasons why motorists say they’re nervous about switching to electric cars. That’s despite the fact that more than 2,000 people run out of petrol or diesel every day (or 800,000 per year). 

EVs give drivers a lot of warning when they’re running out of charge, and even when they’re at 0%, there’s always a bit of charge left. 

Earlier this year, Nissan announced it was teaming up with British adventurer Chris Ramsey to drive from the Arctic to Antarctica to promote the lengths electric cars can go to. Ramsey will be driving a Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE across some of the world’s most brutal terrain, in an epic 27,000-kilometre journey.

Myth 5: There aren’t enough charging points to go around

There are actually more than 31,500 electric car charging devices in the UK, compared to only 8,380 petrol stations. Most are accessible for pay-as-you-go customers, and apps such as Zap-Map and PlygShare make it easy to find the nearest one on your journey. 

Plus more than 83% are rapid chargers, which will provide up to 80% charge in as little as 30 minutes. Onto subscriptions include free access to the Shell Recharge Network, which includes 170,000 charge points in Europe and more than 3,050 in the UK.

Myth 6: EVs are much more expensive than petrol or diesel cars

An EV may currently be more expensive to purchase than a car with an internal combustion engine (depending of course on the model). But there are lots of ways to drive an EV. A recent survey found only one in 10 drivers actually buy their electric cars outright. Prices for an Onto car subscription, for example, start at £489 per month with no upfront deposit and includes insurance, servicing and free public charging.

EVs are also cheaper to run – it can cost £9 per 100 miles for an EV, versus £118 for a petrol car. And internal combustion engines have more than 1,000 moving parts, which all have to be kept in good working order. Electric cars don’t require regular oil changes, and there are far fewer moving parts to fail. 

A new study by comparison site Compare the Market found that driving an electric car for a year costs almost £600 less than its petrol equivalent after fuel prices surged more than electricity costs.

Despite surging energy bills, motorists who’ve made the switch will be glad to see that electric vehicles cost substantially less to run than a petrol alternative. As well as helping the environment, these drivers benefit from savings in fuel, insurance, and tax.

Myth 7: You can’t have an EV if you live in a flat or don’t have a driveway

Most car charging in the UK is done overnight, but drivers that don’t have access to a charging point at home are still able to switch to electric. 

There’s a growing network of public charging stations outside offices, supermarkets, gyms, and on the street. Every Onto subscriber has free access to the Shell Recharge charging network*, so you don’t need a driveway to have an electric car.

*If you select a no-charging subscription, this won’t apply.

Myth 8: Electric cars catch fire

EVs actually catch fire less often than cars that run on internal combustion engines. Researchers in the US delved into data from the National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and, and found that the number of hybrid cars and petrol cars catching fire far exceeded the number of electric cars doing so. 

In 2020, there were only 25 electric car fires per 100,000 cars sold. That compares to more than 1,500 petrol cars and 3,470 hybrid cars. EV battery fires also take longer to catch alight, which gives passengers more time to escape. 

Myth 9: EVs are just oversized golf carts

Electric cars can actually accelerate more quickly than petrol and diesel cars. The motor generates 100% of its available torque instantly, meaning the transition from stationary to speed is almost instantaneous. 

The Tesla Model S, for example, is one of the quickest mass-produced cars in the world. In its ‘ludicrous’ mode, it can travel from 0-60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds. 

Myth 10: Manufacturing an electric car consumes more energy than petrol or diesel cars

This oft-quoted stat is incorrect. Experts estimate the average EV is 2.25 times more efficient than a comparable vehicle with an internal combustion engine. The payback period depends on how far it’s driven and the level of fossil fuels used to power the grid the EV charges from. 

In the US, a Union of Concerned Scientists report gave the number of six to 16 months of average driving to pay back an EV’s manufacturing emissions. In Europe, the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT) put the figure at two years.

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