13 electric vehicle myths, busted
The myths and facts about electric vehicles.
Is 2019 the year of the electric vehicle? With the recent launch of the Hyundai Ioniq in Australia and the impending arrival of Nissan’s second-generation Leaf – both priced at below $50K before on-road costs – what was seen as a niche market for the rich and environmentally obsessed is suddenly a very real consideration for many of us. The scheduled launch of Kia’s small electric SUV, the e-Niro, early next year is also expected to reinforce the idea that battery-powered driving is in reach.
In fact, a recent RACV survey found that 47 per cent of members would consider an electric vehicle when buying a new car, while 8 per cent of respondents were actively looking at buying an electric vehicle.
Are EVs really more environmentally friendly?
That depends where and how you recharge them. Use renewable electricity – such as solar from your rooftop, or from any power point in Tasmania (which is on track to have 100 per cent renewable-sourced electricity by 2022) – and there are no carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
But, in Victoria, about 85 per cent of electricity comes from CO2-intensive sources such as coal and gas. According to the Department of the Environment and Energy, that translates to 1.07 kilograms of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity used. In an EV with an 80kWh battery that amounts to 85.6 kilograms of CO2.
To get a similar 350-kilometre driving range from a similar petrol-powered car you would need about 40 litres of fuel, which emits 92.4 kilograms of CO2.
So the electric car is just ahead, even in the land of dirty electricity.
There’s also a broader debate about the environmental cost of sourcing materials, shipping vehicles and recycling older cars. That’s cracking the proverbial can of worms, albeit one many car makers are addressing, with plans to be CO2 neutral within decades.
How long do the batteries last?
Like all batteries, those used in electric vehicles degrade over time, reducing their ability to hold charge. However, they’re designed to last much longer than those in your smartphone or laptop.
EVs also don’t use the entire capacity of the battery – again to extend its life.
Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz both offer an eight-year, 160,000-kilometre warranty on their batteries, guaranteeing at least 80 per cent of the original capacity after that time.
Are EVs cheaper to run than petrol cars?
Electricity typically costs about 30 cents per kilowatt-hour, depending on what deal you’ve sourced and where you live (country areas can cost more).
On a small EV such as the Hyundai Kona Electric that translates to $19.20 for a full charge claimed to take you 450 kilometres. Away from the laboratory the range may be closer to 400 kilometres, so around $5 per 100 kilometres.
Assuming an average petrol price of $1.40 each 100 kilometres in the petrol version of the Kona (claimed consumption of 6.7L/100km for the 1.6 turbo engine) will cost more than $10 per 100 kilometres if we make the same assumptions that the official fuel figures are optimistic.
Those figures suggesting EVs cost about half as much to power as petrol cars are in keeping with comparisons on other models.
EVs are really seen as a technology purchase today, like the desire by many to get the latest iPhone.