7 Electric vehicle myths you can stop believing now

BY Ian Lamming

29th Nov 2022 Motoring

7 Electric vehicle myths you can stop believing now

Electric vehicle myths are stopping drivers from making the switch to greener cars. Confused about what's true and what's not? Here's what the experts say

Alligators in the sewers, tourists waking up in ice baths minus their kidneys and faked NASA moon landings are just some of the urban myths that refuse to die.

But as the popularity of the electric vehicle continues to rise, this technological leap forward has spawned a whole new raft of automotive folklore, much of which is stopping motorists buying EVs.

Some of the most bizarre include EVs being too heavy for your average multi-storey car park, that the national grid couldn’t cope if we all plugged them in to charge at the same time and that electric cars cause motion sickness.

The murk around battery powered vehicles was enough to prompt Admiral Insurance, the UK’s leading insurer of electric cars, to commission some myth-busting research.

Cardiff University’s Professor Peter Wells, the director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research, was asked to examine drivers’ common concerns. Here we look at the findings.

Myth: Electric vehicles just can’t go the distance

While Admiral’s research reveals that 71 per cent of drivers are worried about travelling longer distances, the fact is that most mid-sized EVs will travel at least 200 miles between charges.

It may be less than a tank of fuel, but research has shown that the majority of cars travel just 28 miles a day for the first three years of their lives so the distance-to-flat should be more than enough for most people.

"Most mid-sized EVs will travel at least 200 miles between charges"

Even higher mileage drivers can take comfort in the fact that there has been a huge investment in public chargers, and home-chargers, with stations popping up even in rural areas. The app Zap Map does a fine job in tracking them down.

The range of more expensive models is heading up towards the 300-mile mark with some topping 400 miles per charge. Charging is also much quicker with the most powerful units able to hit 80 per cent in around 30 minutes.

Myth: Electric vehicles are too expensive to buy

MG's orange MG4 electric vehicle driving down tree-lined road MG's new model, the MG4, is on the cheaper side at £25,000

The original batch of electric vehicles did seem a bit pricey, but that is starting to change.

While BMW’s new iX M60 might appear dear at £120,000, you also have to consider the supercar performance and specification it offers.

By contrast, Jaguar’s trend-setting I-Pace is half that price and Audi offers the excellent Q4 e-tron from £43,000—not bad for an accomplished premium brand.

Further down the market, Fiat’s cute 500e is £29,000 and MG has just launched the sleek-looking MG4 at an affordable £25,000, while Citroen takes the prize for the cheapest EV with the dinky Ami—yours for just £7,695.

Myth: At least they are cheap to run

They are not as cheap to run as they were thanks to spiralling energy prices. Rapid charger prices have trebled in recent times with the price at the "pump" now reaching 76p/KW.

That means you can expect hefty charges to cost you around £60 for a range of just 240 miles. The same amount of petrol in a hybrid will take you almost twice the distance.

"They are not as cheap to run as they were thanks to spiralling energy prices"

More people are opting for home chargers but again the price of electricity has trebled the cost. Expect an overnight charge to cost you about a tenner, which is much better but it’s rising all the time. More people choosing to charge off-peak may only persuade energy companies to put the prices up during the night too.

But, as Admiral points out, EVs do make significant savings elsewhere. They have fewer moving parts, so less can go wrong, and maintenance costs could be up to 70 per cent less.   

Myth: Using vehicle features such as air conditioning, heating, wipers or radio will drain your battery

Jaguar Jag-I-PACE1 electric vehicle driving fast down roadNew innovations to electric cars such as Jaguar's I-Pace mean that mileage is now dropping less when drivers use features like climate control

Using the radio or windscreen wipers has never really had an effect on a vehicle’s range. The real killer was the back windscreen demister element, the climate control, and forget ever touching the heat seats.

But things are changing. A recent test on a Jaguar I-Pace showed next to no change at all on the range read out when the heated seats, back demist or climate control were in use. Even the new MG4 only dropped ten miles with the heater on—given the total range was a healthy 240, it was worth it to keep the tootsies warm.

EVs also come with many features to optimise battery use, including "eco" mode, which reduces the rate of acceleration and increases the strength of regenerative braking, and air-source heat pumps to replace conventional systems.

EVs also rely more on heated seats and steering wheels rather than trying to heat the entire space inside the car.

Myth: The energy grid won’t cope with a rise in electric vehicle charging

Admiral’s research revealed that over half of those surveyed think the national grid would not cope if everyone switched to an electric vehicle.

But Wells confirmed there is enough electricity supply for every EV vehicle, as they can be charged at different times of the day or night when overall demand for electricity from the grid is low.

Myth: Charging an electric vehicle can cause explosions or fires

A quarter of drivers believe that charging an EV could cause explosions or fires, but the reality is that they are less likely to have issues than a car powered by highly combustible petrol.

Myth: Electric vehicles are too heavy

BMW-iX-2 parked in empty field under blue skyElectric vehicles like BMW's iX M60 are surprisingly lightweight compared with conventional cars

While the battery packs of EVs are incredibly heavy, the rest of the car is much lighter with no conventional engine, lighter gearboxes and fewer working parts.

The weight is also carried much lower down, which alters the vehicle’s centre of gravity, making it much more stable.

"While the battery packs of EVs are incredibly heavy, the rest of the car is much lighter"

Admiral’s research shows that only one in three drivers would currently get an EV for their next car, but drivers are being put off unnecessarily by these myths.

Sadly, what isn’t an urban myth is the fact that the government has just imposed vehicle excise duty on electric vehicles, which could add as much as £500 to your annual running costs. Now, that could stop people buying electric.

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