Myths about electric vehicles

From the absurd - 'EVs will ruin your weekend' - to the ridiculous - 'EVs can't tow your boat' - the anti-electric vehicle brigade is out and about rattling their chains.

Myth 1: Electric vehicles have limited range and are impractical for long-distance travel

False. Modern electric vehicles have significantly improved range capabilities. The top of the range Tesla S can drive over 800kms on a single charge, and many mid range EVs now available in Australia can go over 300 kms. The expanding charging infrastructure also makes long-distance travel more convenient and feasible, and there’s always an ordinary power plug that can provide a trickle charge overnight.


Myth 2: Electric vehicles are more expensive than internal combustion vehicles

False. While the upfront cost of electric vehicles can be higher than traditional petrol and diesel vehicles, this myth overlooks the total cost of ownership. EVs have lower operational and maintenance costs. They require much less maintenance, no oil changes, and have lower fuel costs due to the cheaper price of electricity.


Myth 3: Electric vehicles are slower and less powerful than internal combustion vehicles

False. Electric motors have instant torque, provide quick acceleration and are more responsive. Numerous electric vehicles have demonstrated impressive acceleration and high top speeds.


Myth 4: Electric vehicles are not as safe as internal combustion vehicles

False. Electric vehicles undergo the same rigorous safety standards as other vehicles, and in many cases, they have additional safety features due to their design. Virtually all the EVs on the Australian market score 5 star safety ratings from ANCAP (the Australasian New Car Assessment Program). The battery packs in electric vehicles are built to withstand impacts and undergo extensive safety testing to ensure drivers and passengers are protected in the case of an accident.


Myth 5: Electric vehicles are not suitable for cold climates

False. This myth suggests that EV performance and range drastically diminish in cold weather. While extreme temperatures can affect any vehicle's range, modern electric vehicles have advanced thermal management systems that mitigate the impact of temperature extremes, which enables them to perform well even in cold climates.


Myth 6: Charging infrastructure is insufficient and inconvenient

Partly true. Critics often claim that the lack of charging infrastructure hinders the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. However, charging infrastructure is expanding and more public charging stations are being installed. There’s also the convenience of home charging with either a dedicated EV charger or simply plugging the car into an ordinary power socket. Advancements in fast-charging technologies will also reduce charging times significantly.


Myth 7: Electric vehicles are worse for the environment

False. This myth overlooks the broader environmental benefits of electric vehicles. Battery production does have an environmental impact. However, studies consistently show that the overall lifecycle emissions of electric vehicles, including battery production, are significantly lower than those of internal combustion vehicles. Additionally, advancements in battery technology and recycling initiatives are continually improving sustainability.


Myth 8: Electric vehicles are not as comfortable or spacious

False. This myth suggests that electric vehicles compromise comfort and interior space due to the presence of large batteries. However, electric vehicle models vary widely, and many have spacious interiors and comparable comfort, particularly those built on new electric platforms, which allows more interior space and greater safety for passengers. The absence of an internal combustion engine also makes for a quieter and smoother ride.


Myth 9: Electric vehicles will overload the electricity grid

False. Studies indicate that the grid can handle increased electric vehicle charging demand with smart charging infrastructure and proper load management. Electric vehicles can even serve as grid resources through vehicle-to-grid technology by helping to balance the grid and store excess renewable energy.


Myth 10: Electric vehicles are not suitable for all driving needs

This myth suggests that electric vehicles are limited to specific driving conditions or lifestyles. However, with the expanding range of electric vehicle models and improved charging infrastructure, electric vehicles are suitable for a wide range of driving needs, from daily commutes to long road trips. The diversity of electric vehicle options continues to increase, catering to different lifestyles and requirements.


Myth 11: Electric vehicles can’t tow a boat or caravan

False. EVs can tow caravans or boats, depending on their towing capacity. Modern electric vehicles are increasingly being designed with towing in mind.


Myth 12: Electric vehicles can only be afforded by the wealthy

False. While some high-end electric vehicle models come with a premium price tag, there is a growing selection of affordable electric vehicles. Manufacturers are introducing more budget-friendly options, and government incentives or rebates can further offset the initial cost, which make electric vehicles more accessible to a broader range of consumers. As technology and economies of scale improve EVs are expected to become even more affordable, and as more EVs hit the road and fleets adopt EVs, this will lead to increased numbers of second hand EVs.

Myth 13: Electric vehicles will ruin the weekend

False. Electric vehicles have the potential to enhance your weekend. EVs have impressive acceleration and smooth, instant torque which provides an exciting and comfortable driving experience. This can make weekend getaways and road trips more enjoyable, especially on winding roads, or open highways. EVs are quieter than internal combustion engine vehicles, so your weekend driving experience is more peaceful and relaxed. EVs have fewer moving parts and require less maintenance compared to ICE vehicles, so you’ll spend less time on maintenance and more time enjoying your weekend. EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions so you won't be subjected to so many exhaust fumes on your weekend adventures. If you have access to home charging, you can start your weekend with a fully charged vehicle and eliminate the need to visit a dirty, smelly petrol station. Just plug in your EV overnight, and you'll be ready to go in the morning. Many EVs come equipped with advanced technology and features, such as large infotainment screens, driver-assistance systems, and smartphone integration, which can all enhance your weekend entertainment, navigation, and safety.


Myth 14: The electricity used to charge EVs is created by burning fossil fuels

The electricity mix used to charge EVs varies depending on the region. While some electricity used to charge EVs currently comes from fossil fuels, this situation is not static. The decarbonisation of the grid and the ongoing shift towards renewable energy sources will reduce the carbon footprint of EVs over time. Many EV owners charge from home with rooftop solar, and most public EV chargers are powered through renewable energy contracts. Smart charging technologies already allow EV owners to schedule charging during periods of lower energy demand or when renewable energy sources are more abundant. Even when charged with electricity generated from fossil fuels, EVs can still be more environmentally friendly due to higher overall energy efficiency and reduced tailpipe emissions.

Myth 15: EV batteries will just end up in landfill

EV battery recycling technologies are advancing and recycling rates have improved over time. Various companies and research institutions are investing in efficient battery recycling processes to recover valuable materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Recycling batteries will help reduce the environmental impact of EVs and conserve valuable resources.


Myth 16: EVs are not safe and their batteries can catch fire easily.

False. EVs are subject to rigorous safety standards and testing, just like traditional vehicles. While some early EV models had isolated incidents of battery-related fires, manufacturers have since improved battery safety and thermal management systems to minimise such risks. EVs are as safe as internal combustion engine vehicles in crash tests and real-world scenarios.


Myth 17: EVs require frequent battery replacements

False. Modern EV batteries typically come with warranties covering 8 to 10 years, or a certain number of charging cycles. Battery technology is continuously improving, which should further extend the lifespan of EV batteries over time. Most EV owners experience minimal battery degradation for several years.


Myth 18: The manufacturing of EVs creates more emissions than producing traditional vehicles.

False. Several studies have shown that, over their entire lifecycle, including the manufacturing, operation, and disposal, EVs have lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional vehicles. The extent of the emissions reduction varies depending on the electricity mix used for charging. As the share of renewable energy in electricity generation increases, the overall carbon footprint of EVs continues to decrease.


Myth 19: The production of EV batteries relies on rare and expensive materials, which will result in supply chain problems

The EV industry is actively working on diversifying battery chemistries and materials to reduce reliance on rare and expensive resources like cobalt. Researchers are exploring alternatives and more sustainable materials to produce batteries, which could mitigate the ethical and environmental concerns associated with mining. Breakthroughs in battery technology, such as solid-state batteries or lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistries, are being explored. These technologies often use less rare materials. Additionally, recycling will help recover valuable metals from used batteries and reduce the dependence on raw materials and promote a more sustainable supply chain. Pressure from consumers, advocacy groups, and international organisations is pushing companies to adopt responsible sourcing practices.

Anne Delaney
SwitchedOn Editor
March 4, 2024
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