If you haven’t realized, electric cars are all the rage these days. Well, that is for those who can afford them or are so political and prestigious that only the most ‘woke’ innovations will do. According to these individuals, EVs are the solution to our world pollution and climate change problems.
Using vehicles that don’t emit carbon dioxide emissions can significantly reduce our footprint and negative environmental impact, potentially allowing the planet to live on and generate life for humanity for hundreds of thousands more years to come.
And thanks to the push EVs are being given by the federal government, nearly 5 percent of all car sales in the US are now powered by electricity over fossil fuels. In countries like England and China, where EVs have been around for a little longer, that number is closer to 25 percent already.
However, as several are finding out, being an EV owner isn’t exactly all it’s cracked up to be.
For starters, some can’t get over the fact that you must shell out an average of $56,000 upfront to purchase one.
The next major roadblock is that the driving range of a fully charged EV battery is rarely what it says it is.
Neil Winton, an auto industry analyst and a senior contributor to Forbes, recently explained why. In a piece written for Forbes last month, Winton noted that the range or mileage expected to be completed on a single charge is configured based on computerized Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure, or WLTP. The sole purpose of these tests is to gauge and determine the range of EVs.
And so, these are the numbers you see on the manufacturer’s vehicle spec sheets, as well as the details provided at the dealership.
The problem is that these are computer-generated tests and not based on any kind of real-world or real-life operation.
For example, the tests fail to account for the fact that when driving, very few of us do so without the radio on, air conditioning, or our heated seats, all of which drain the battery at a faster rate. Similarly, the tests do not consider the weight your new EV might be carrying, say a carload full of kids and all their sporting gear, your vacation luggage, or the trailer you are hauling.
The tests also don’t measure the differences between highway miles and those completed in stop-and-go traffic.
Unlike carbon-fueled vehicles, EVs do better when braking more often. In fact, the friction caused when breaking actually serves to recharge the battery. But, as you know, this doesn’t happen all that often on the highway, which drops your range even more.
According to Winton, the deviation from the range advertised on your new EV could be as much as 32 percent less, as is the case when looking at the Mini Electric. Its capacity is supposed to be about 145 miles on a single charge. And yet, in real life, drivers get only 98.5.
Now, as you might imagine, not performing as advertised might be a bit of a problem for the average American, especially once they learn that charging stations are 1) not nearly as plentiful as gas stations and 2) don’t always charge as advertised either.
As one Kia EV driver recently discovered on a cross-country road trip, she spent more time charging her car than either driving or sleeping. Another couple found that when towing a trailer, they could only go about 100 miles before needing to recharge, which often took hours.
As Winton wrote, “The value-seeking electric car buyer will demand that if the manufacturer says the battery, fully charged will offer say 300 miles, it will offer 300 miles. No finagling and bamboozling with concepts like WLTP will be acceptable.”
Nor should they be – especially in a time when just about everything costs far more than it used to.
This means that while EVs might continue to become more popular, they are likely to only do so in certain circles, say those where money and saving it isn’t a problem. It also means manufacturers will have come clean about these range issues at some point, lest they find themselves in a world of hurt.