After purchasing an electric vehicle (EV), you’ll never have to visit another gas station again unless you need to air up your tires or grab a soda. You’ll be doing your part to lower your overall impact on the environment by reducing emissions, among a wide variety of other benefits. However there are certain inherent challenges unique to EV ownership that need to be addressed. Here are some common electric car anxieties, and how you can overcome each one.
One of the most common barriers to owning an electric vehicle stems from how far it can travel safely. You may be concerned that an electric car may not be able to travel far enough on a single charge. Luckily electric vehicle range has been at the top of the demand list from potential electric vehicle buyers and manufactures have been listening the last few years.
Vehicle range estimates are substantiated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but they vary depending on weather conditions and usage habits. Range is also directly correlated to a vehicle’s battery size. For example, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV had just 62 miles of total range from a relatively small 16-kilowatt battery. On the other hand, the Tesla Model S P85D edition has a range of up to 253 miles from its 85-kilowatt battery, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Ford and Rivian both boast 300+ mile ranges for their electric trucks. At the top of the list is the 2022 Lucid Air Dream which claims to have a range of up to 520 miles! To determine which vehicle is best suited for your lifestyle, you should calculate how far you typically travel. A commuter may only need to travel 62 miles in a single day, whereas a road tripper might require the 300 or so miles afforded by a higher-end battery. Pick an electric vehicle that best suits your range needs with a little extra capacity just in case.
Recharge Time Anxiety
Electric vehicles can take hours to recharge, and connecting to a standard 110-volt outlet in the evening may not leave you with a fully recharged vehicle in the morning. A Nissan Leaf with a 40-kilowatt battery can take up to 20 hours to fully recharge using a standard home outlet. Electric car owners can solve this problem by investing in a 240-volt charging system. Such a system, when used by the Leaf for example, reduces charge times to no more than eight hours. Moving up to more robust charging solutions like a level 3 DC fast charging station can make things move a bit faster. That same Leaf can now get an 80% charge in as little as 40 minutes. The down side is that DC fast charging stations require an immense amount of power usually only found in commercial building applications. Your house is probably wired for 220-volts already, but a DC fast charger can require double that level. Not to worry though as charging stations of all kinds of becoming more and more common across the country.
Charging Station Stress
Beyond how long it takes to do so, the ability to charge on the road is a crucial consideration for electric car owners. Public charging stations are more plentiful than they were a few years ago, however, they are still not always as easily found as gas service stations. To address this problem, apps have been developed to help EV owners find charging stations and plan their trips. For example, the PlugShare App directs drivers to nearby stations, including residential chargers shared by members and public stations. Charging is occasionally free, but usually involves a token fee. Apps will also direct EV owners to high-power stations where standard electric vehicles can be charged in under 30 minutes. In recent years many retail businesses have jumped on the electric vehicle support trend and offer charging stations in their parking lots. The same has happened with many office buildings allowing workers to recharge their electric vehicles before heading home at the end of the day.
When charging an electric vehicle it is common courtesy to move your EV once it is fully charged (or has charged as much as you need). While charging stations are more prevalent than they were a few years ago, there may still be a line of drivers waiting for a charge. Naturally chargers in popular areas like shopping centers may be crowded but they may also offer features like DC fast charging.
Among electric car anxieties, one of the most restrictive has to do with the cost of the vehicle itself. EV prices can range from as low as just under $30k to well over $100k. By comparison a similar gasoline model may cost thousands of dollars less than an EV. Furthermore, owners may wonder if they will ever recoup their investment. Fortunately, there are federal and some state tax credits and other incentives to bridge the expenditure gap. On the federal level, EV owners may be eligible for an income tax credit of up to $7,500 based on the battery’s capacity. There are also savings from reduced maintenance requirements (no oil changes, no fuel filters, no exhaust pipes, etc). Creative electric vehicles owners can opt to add solar panels to their homes to help offset charging costs.
For certain people, electric car concerns are not easily overcome. Their driving styles or finances simply do not allow for electric vehicle ownership. The happy news is that future models will cost less and have longer ranges, eventually extending EV ownership to more people. If you aren’t ready to take the full electric vehicle plunge there are also plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as regular hybrid vehicles.
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Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.