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EV myths v the facts

Myths about electric vehicles are currently at an all-time high. Whether the headline is ‘your electric car will catch fire’ or ‘multi-storey car parks will collapse because of EVs’, the stories are becoming more prevalent, more inaccurate and more ridiculous.

Many inaccurate stories about EVs in the media are written by people who have never driven an EV. In contrast, Green Car Guide’s editor Paul Clarke has personally reviewed every EV ever on sale in the UK, as well as communicating about environmental and energy issues for over 30 years.

So if you’re wondering if all the anti-EV stories are true or false, we address the myths below. But first, here are some quick facts about EVs:

Facts about EVs

  • EVs have zero tailpipe emissions. That means that they don’t emit CO2, so helping in the fight against climate change
  • EVs don’t emit NOx, so helping with local air quality
  • EVs are cheaper to run than petrol and diesel cars
  • EVs enjoy a number of financial incentives for businesses and fleets, including low Benefit in Kind tax
  • EVs have 100% torque available at virtually all times – in most people’s eyes this makes EVs better to drive than petrol or diesel cars – and faster in many cases
  • EVs are quieter and more refined to drive than petrol and diesel cars
  • A number of surveys have shown that at least 90% of EV drivers – and a higher percentage in some cases – would never go back to a petrol or diesel car
  • There’s already a wide selection of EVs on sale, and there are increasing numbers of new EVs coming to market
  • The driving ranges of EVs are increasing, with many models having a real-world driving range of 300 miles or more
  • Most people charge at home or at work, but the UK’s public charging infrastructure is also continually growing
  • There are now increasing numbers of second-hand electric cars
  • Independent reports show that EVs have a lower whole-life CO2 footprint than petrol and diesel cars*
  • Batteries are becoming more sustainable
  • The UK’s electricity grid is becoming increasingly decarbonised.

* For cars sold in 2022, a medium-sized EU-average electric car emits 75 gCO₂e/km over its lifetime, while a petrol car emits 241 gCO₂e/km, including all upstream emissions and end-of-life credits. This shows that BEVs emit about 3.2 times less than petrol cars. This translates to 18.9 tonnes of CO2 emitted over its lifetime for a medium battery electric car in 2022 compared to 55.6 tonnes of CO2 emitted over its lifetime for a medium petrol car, based on a battery made in the EU and the car being driven in the EU. That represents a saving of 36.7 tonnes of CO2 for a battery electric car. Source: https://www.transportenvironment.org/discover/how-clean-are-electric-cars/

Common myths about electric vehicles v the facts

EV myth busting: EVs run out of battery charge really quickly

Early EVs had limited driving ranges, however battery technology is developing all the time and most of the latest models offer over 250 or 300 miles on one full charge – or even more in some cases. Range will be affected by driving style and other factors such as temperature.

In households with two cars, the first, or main, vehicle travels on average 37 miles per day, with the second vehicle travelling around 13 miles per day – so both cars could be EVs.

98% of all car journeys are under 50 miles which is well within the range of even the oldest EVs on the road today. Research from Delta-ee tells us that only 8% of charging is likely to happen at public charge points over the next decade, with most owners charging at home or at work.

There are a number of websites and apps that help with planning a journey in an EV such as Zapmap. The information on the site is updated in real-time to give details of any issues with particular charge points.

View chargepoints on Zapmap

EV myth busting: EVs are difficult to charge at home

Most EV drivers currently charge at home. You will normally be offered a home chargepoint when you buy or lease a new EV. The only grant for home chargepoints at the current time is for landlords. If a home chargepoint isn’t arranged with your EV, there are many chargepoint suppliers with a range of products. If you don’t have off-street parking at your home, there is funding that local authorities can access to install on street charging facilities. You will need to lobby your local authority to do this, details of the scheme are here.

EV myth busting: EVs are difficult to charge away from home

The number of public charge points – the publicly accessible charge point network – is growing rapidly. Zapmap is a useful source of information to check coverage in your area. As of October 2023 there were over 50,000 public charging devices installed.

View chargepoints on Zapmap

EV myth busting: EV batteries only last a few years

EVs are more reliable than petrol and diesel cars, and EV batteries are reliable. Most manufacturers are currently offering 8 year warranties on batteries; Nissan is offering 8 years or 100,000 miles, and Hyundai offers 8 years and 125,000 miles. All EV batteries are made up of a series of cells which can be replaced as required.

EV batteries, like those in other electronic devices, do degrade over time. This won’t lead to loss of performance or cruising ability but could mean a loss of maximum range. We now have a wealth of data relating to the longevity of EV batteries, one study suggests that EVs could lose around 2.3% of range per year. This figure is based on older vehicles that don’t have the latest battery management technology, even so this would suggest a vehicle with a 150 mile range would lose around 17 miles of range over 5 years, enabling batteries to outlast the economic usable life of a vehicle: Do Electric Cars Lose Range Over Time? Here is the Data – The Plugin Report.

EV myth busting: EVs and their batteries aren’t sustainable

Manufacturing and recycling of batteries is improving all the time. There are clear indications that the industry is committed to putting electric motoring on a sustainable and ethically clear road ahead.

The lifecycle impact of EVs and their components are still relatively small scale, however as they become the norm on the roads then we will of course need to ensure that any impacts are considered and mitigated.

EV batteries are modular and can be repaired so it is very rare that a battery needs to be replaced. Once batteries are no longer viable for use in an EV they can be recycled for use as energy storage facilities which will help ensure the reliability of the energy grid as the take up of EVs and associate charging requirements increase.

Perhaps of bigger concern are the social impacts of battery production, particularly since there are concerns about the labour market and working conditions in many countries with resources of minerals such as lithium and cobalt. Any manufacturer purchasing these resources will need to be confident of the ethics involved and will need to ensure that supply chain ethics have been clarified.

EV myth busting: EVs have a higher carbon footprint than petrol and diesel cars

EVs have a lower whole life carbon footprint than petrol and diesel cars. The footprint of the BMW iX2 xDrive30 is around 30 per cent lower than that of the new BMW X2 sDrive20i when charged using the current EU electricity mix. If renewable power is used for charging, its footprint is around 60 per cent lower. There are a number of reports about life cycle assessment of EVs compared to petrol and diesel cars: find out more.

EV myth busting: Petrol and diesel cars are cheaper than EVs

EVs can be more expensive to buy than a petrol or diesel vehicle, but running an electric vehicle can offer savings of up to £100 per 1,000 miles depending on the vehicle and driving conditions. Servicing costs are significantly lower too, this can be a saving of around 10p per mile over an internal combustion engine vehicle.

The figure that ‘EVs cost around 2p per mile to run’ may not be fully accurate currently, primarily due to the fact that the costs for using public chargepoints have risen and there is a wide range of different tariffs and costs depending on charger type and operator. There are a number of price comparison sites that enable individuals to shop around for the best home energy tariff, with some now offering dedicated EV charging options. Charging at home is the cheapest option, unless free-to-use public charge points can be accessed.

EV myth busting: Car dealerships aren’t focused on EVs

The Electric Vehicle Approved scheme is a set of standards for all areas of automotive retail intended to recognise excellence in the EV sector. Individuals and fleets looking to purchase/lease EVs should look out for retailers that have achieved EVA recognitition to ensure they are receiving the best advice possible. There are an increasing number of independent specialists to support the growing secondhand market and servicing and maintenance requirements too, HEVRA membership ensures that independent garages are suitable qualified to service and repair EVs.

Contact Green Car Guide for more information.