All-electric cars have taken mainstream auto buying by storm over the past few years. With the advent of mass-production brought on by the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, and then with a torch pass on to juggernaut Tesla, the electric vehicle world is on the rise. In fact, per Cleantechnica, since 2013, Tesla sales alone have gone from over 20,000 per year to over 20,000 per month. These vehicle types are becoming both smarter and stronger in terms of both fuel economy and technology.
Across the full spectrum of electric car sales, each year seems to bring about a new record, and with good reason. Electric vehicles offer extensive benefits. However, these benefits also come at some obvious and not-so-obvious potential drawbacks that need to be uncovered and unpacked to be fully understood.
These drawbacks come in comparison to conventional, gas-powered alternatives. One of the most important questions that prospective EV purchasers face is whether they should buy an AEV (all-electric vehicle, think Tesla Model 3), PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, think Toyota Prius), or a standard conventional gas-powered car.
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Electric Cars Pros and Cons
As with any gas-alternative mode of transportation, there are going to be both extensive benefits and potential shortcomings. As such, we at Hybrid Center have curated the following list of electric cars pros and cons, to assist you in determining if you should power on or pull the plug.
For more information and a deep dive into EVs, check out our article Electric Cars – Your Most Common Questions Answered.
Advantages of Electric Cars
Electric cars are far more environmentally friendly
It’s true and scientifically proven. Driving electric vehicles means that you are going to be behind the wheel of something that produces zero (or next to zero) carbon emissions. With the significant impact the human race has had on global warming, and with this impact growing every day, driving and owning an electric vehicle means you are ensuring the environmental impact and carbon footprint your commute has shrunk.
Being environmentally friendly by owning an electric vehicle means that you are creating a far less polluted world for future generations. Additionally, there is more than just environmental pollution. EVs are notorious for running almost entirely silently. This means that you are doing your part to decrease noise pollution as well. As far as environmental impact goes, EV ownership is nothing but gold stars.
The lack of an engine means far less “wear and tear”
This is often glossed over in the electric versus conventional debate. The truth of the matter is that electric vehicles move through the use of batteries. As such, they don’t require a mechanical engine, or any moving parts for that matter, to get you from Point A to Point B.
Additionally, the enormous mechanical mess that comes with internal combustion engines is a thing of the past in EVs. This works to eliminate wear and tear, as well as the associated costs with replacing small parts such as oil filters, bands and belts, valves, spark plugs, alternators, and more. These parts and related components of a combustion engine add up to extensive costs and headaches over time. For EV owners, the only point of concern will be the maintenance of the battery.
Perfect for driving in urban areas
For those who live in cities or suburbs, consistent braking and stopping are quite standard. Gasoline-powered vehicles perform more effectively than hybrids and electric cars at highway speeds. However, EVs excel impressively when driving in the city.
If you live in a city, having an all-electric car makes perfect sense, if your budget permits for the initial purchase. Many malls, offices, shopping centers, parking garages, and more now offer up-front parking spots for electric vehicles, as well as free charging opportunities. In fact, in some areas, electric cars are permitted to utilize carpool and HOV lanes on the highway, no questions asked.
Extensive fuel cost savings
Like it or not, it costs significantly less to run a vehicle on electricity than it does to run on conventional fuel. Running an all-electric vehicle has a far lower cost per mile compared to fuel-powered cars.
Additionally, you can quickly and easily charge your vehicle from the comfort of your home, without the need to visit parking areas, specific charging stations, or Superchargers (in the case of Tesla cars). As mentioned above, many workplaces and shopping centers also provide charging with zero cost to the owner.
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Dynamics when driving
One of the benefits of electric vehicles that seems to fly under the radar is the go-kart-like driving quality and dynamics. Let us explain. With the instantaneous torque provided by EVs, they start quickly, accelerate quickly, and are just fun to drive.
Please note that driving with the “gas” pedal pushed down consistently is going to harm your battery range. However, the acceleration offered is ideal for not only the enjoyment aspect of a fast car that may not seem fast but also as a safety feature for evasive maneuvers as needed.
In addition to this, most electric vehicles have their batteries stored low on the car, at times connected directly to the chassis. This provides a shallow center of gravity, as well as a stiff frame to assist with tight handling.
Finally, many electric vehicles offer the added benefit of one-pedal driving. This driving style utilizes the regenerative braking feature found in most EVs to assist in slowing the car, while simultaneously recharging the vehicle batteries. With this driving style, there is often no need even to use the brake pedal.
Expansive storage space available
As there is no engine, and no need for a transmission, as well as the low, flat, and out of the way placement of the battery, EVs have ample storage space. This comes in the shape of expansive trunk space, front trunks, and sometimes even storage areas and organizers inside the vehicle that would typically be inconceivable with conventional fuel-driven vehicles.
Potential Disadvantages of Electric Cars
Issues with inconsistent range miles
This is a dealbreaker for some. All-electric vehicles are reported with estimated total driving ranges. These are set by collaboration with the government and manufacturer. However, these numbers are known to be extremely difficult to get to in the real world and under usual driving conditions.
Professional drivers on closed courses obtain official range values, exercising impressive levels of patience, and experiencing perfect conditions. These numbers do not reflect things that drivers encounter on the road in real-world scenarios.
One example of this is inconsistencies in climate and weather. Another is pedal-to-the-metal driving (obviously). Weather plays a significant role in the range in which an electric vehicle can drive before the battery empties. In colder weather, ranges for EVs can drop up to 40% from estimated numbers provided by the manufacturer. For this reason, it is not recommended to drive an EV long distances in icy conditions.
Limited charging station availability
What some have noted are the most common reasons why people choose conventional vehicles over electric vehicles in 2019 and beyond is ease of charging in less populated, rural areas. More extended travel plans and road trips pose challenges in planning, and can sometimes require going out of the way from optimal routes to ensure charging station availability.
These issues also plague those in urban settings who live in apartments or condo complexes. Often, they don’t have enough electric vehicle charging stations for those owning EVs to charge simultaneously. Other times, parking spots are assigned, or parking garages are older, leading to a complete lack of availability.
The lack of accessibility for charging stations, combined with range anxiety, as mentioned above, can cause compounded stress on electric vehicle owners.
Far more expensive initial ownership
This is a given. Electric vehicles still demand pricing premiums over comparable gasoline alternatives. While there are extensive government tax credits and rebates that are available to EV owners and consumers, the initial asking price is typically well above average. As such, it may be out of scope for potential buyers who want to ensure there is some value in the vehicle they are purchasing.
In addition to this, some electric vehicles will experience rapid depreciation. This includes options from manufacturers who are not common in the electric vehicle segment (the BMW i8 is one great example). However, others, such as current-model Teslas, hold their value exceptionally well and are known to appreciate during slowdowns in Tesla manufacturing and delivery.
Wrapping Up Electric Cars Pros and Cons
Overall, there are plenty of benefits and drawbacks to owning an electric vehicle over a conventional alternative. Electric vehicles offer ample benefits, including the lower overall cost of ownership, tax credits, less wear and tear, and more storage. However, these benefits also come at some obvious and not-so-obvious potential drawbacks, including range issues, more expensive initial cost, and limitations in charging opportunities.
The choice of whether to purchase an EV is entirely up to the potential buyer. However, ensuring that you receive an all-encompassing view of the pros and cons of electric vehicles will go a long way in your due diligence before deciding if you should power on, or if it’s better to pull the plug.