There’s been increasing attention on the use of electric cars, both now and into our future.
But, what exactly are the pros and cons of electric cars to be aware of?
In this guide, we’ve put together a list outlining these pros and cons.
Summary – Pros & Cons Of Electric Cars
- Technology is progressing fast
- Convenient, & easy to re-charge
- Can be cheaper to re-charge vs refilling a gasoline car
- Can be cheaper to maintain
- Has fewer air contaminant and air pollution emissions than a gasoline car
- Has fewer greenhouse emissions than a gasoline car
- There’s quick charge technology available
- Driving experience is usually good
- Leasing rates can be competitive
- Potential health benefits to driving them
- There can be tax benefits and concessions depending on the car and country
- Their safety is generally pretty good
- Re-charging stations are slowly being built and growing in number
- Some cities allow EVs to drive in the carpool lane
- Prices of EVs are expected to become more competitive (as technology gets better and economy of scale is met)
- There are better and more cost effective ways of re-using and recycling EV batteries being researched and tested
- Companies are looking at ways of reclaiming metals from batteries
- There is a limit on how far you can drive EVs currently
- There aren’t a lot of recharging stations yet
- Full charging takes a long time
- Different cars might only accept specific plugs
- Higher initial retail cost compared to conventional cars
- Fewer options right now than conventional engine cars
- Only specific or limited tax incentives might be available
- Re-sale value can drop quickly
- Technology can get outdated or replaced quickly
- Quiet operation can be dangerous to pedestrians
- Material supply chain can be international and not local
- Batteries currently rely on finite and rate metals
- Battery re-use and recycling (plus dealing with battery waste) can be improved, and also become more cost effective
- Fixing EVs can be inconvenient and costly
- Sometimes a specialized EV mechanic might be needed to fix or modify an EV
- EVs might not be as good in certain environments (very cold or hot climates, rural areas, dusty or hard wearing areas etc.)
- Right now, EVs rely on customer investment and government subsidies and support
- There are still some environmental concerns with the operation of EVs
- EVs won’t solve some existing road problems
- In some places, marketing and awareness of EVs is an issue
*Note – these are very general pros and cons of electric vehicles. Each brand and model of electric vehicle is obviously going to offer it’s own pros and cons, and each driver is going to have different requirements.
This is only going to change as technology changes and society changes.
Different countries and cities also have different policies and regulations in places which may change the pros and cons of EVs in different places. So, pros and cons can be car, driver and location specific.
What Are Electric Cars
When we talk about electric cars – we are generally talking about All-Electric Vehicles (AEV’s), also call Electric Battery Vehicles.
But, there are several different types of cars that use electricity for energy.
You can read about the different types of electric vehicles in this guide.
Pros Of Electric Cars
- Technology Development Is Progressing Fast – batteries are getting better, driving distance is getting better, charging times are getting better, all quite quickly. EV’s in 10 years time will be far advanced on the ones you see now.
- Convenient & Easy To Re-Charge – compared to gasoline based cars, you don’t have to go to a gas station to re-fuel. You can plug the car in at home and re-charge
- Cheaper To Charge vs. Refilling a Gasoline Car – For the average electric vehicle owner, the cost of the electricity used to charge the vehicle is at least 25% less than the cost of fuel. Depending upon the owner’s geographic location, the type of electricity used, and if any home-based electricity is generated, the cost of fuel could be up to 33% less when compared to gasoline or diesel. EVgo, which is a leading supplier of charging stations for electric cars, currently offers a $0.20 to $0.35 per minute charging rate with a 45-minute session length.
- Americans pay an average of 15 cents per mile driving gas-powered cars, which really doesn’t seem like much — until you compare it to the fact that many EVs run at one-third of that cost, given that electricity is significantly less expensive than gasoline. And since you’ll likely charge your electric car in your garage most of the time, installing solar panels on your home can save you even more money on powering both your residence and your EV.
- Can Be Cheaper To Maintain – as most electric vehicles don’t require an exhaust system or oil changes.
- The brakes on an EV also typically don’t wear as quickly as those on a conventional car, which means even more savings for you.
- Has Fewer Emissions Than A Gasoline Car – there are emissions obviously when making the car and the battery, and when charging the car (with the fuel used for the electricity). But, overall, electric cars produce fewer emissions than a gasoline car that emits while it’s running via the exhaust. An electric car run on renewable energy would produce almost no emissions
- There’s Quick Charge Technology Available – via direct current quick chargers. These chargers can add about 50 miles to the range of any electric vehicle in under 30 minutes. In 2018, a company called Electrify America announced that it was installing a number of these fast-charge stations at 100 Walmart stores in the United States. These stations would offer 20 miles of range per minute of charging.
- Driving Experience Is Usually Good – operation/driving is usually very quiet compared to a combustion gasoline car engine, and there’s usually smoothness between changing gears
- Leasing Rates Can Be Competitive – For households with a good credit score, usually 700 or higher, then a lease rate may be as low as $199 per month in some geographic regions.
- Potential Health Benefits – About half of the U.S. population has experienced an adverse health event because of their exposure to traffic noise. Issues range from hearing loss to heart disease. The interior of a fuel-based vehicle driving at highway speeds is about 70 decibels. In an electric vehicle, the interior is often below 40 decibels at the same speed. That noise reduction produces a potential health benefit for everyone around the vehicle.
- There Can Be Tax Benefits Depending On The Car & Country – The United States offers a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 per new electric vehicle purchased for use in the country. The size of the credit is dependent upon the battery capacity of the vehicle and its overall size. It may be a limited-time tax credit, as only 200,000 qualified cars from each manufacturer are eligible for the incentive.
- Safety Is Good – Unlike vehicles using combustion, it is almost impossible for an electric car to explode upon impact. The heavy battery packs for the vehicle lower the center of gravity for the car, which makes it less likely for it to roll over as well. Electric cars also have modern safety systems similar to fuel-based vehicles, helping all models exceed the current safety standards.
- Recharging Stations Are Slowly Being Built & Growing In Number – There are refueling stations being added across different countries to support the growing fleet of electric cars.
- Some Places Allow You To Drive In The Carpool Lane – Driving an EV means you have the privilege of using the HOV lane (aka the “carpool” lane) any time of day in some areas, which is obviously convenient and saves time.
- Prices Of EVs Are Expected To Become More Competitive – Prices should be on par with conventional cars by 2025.
- Companies Are Looking At Ways To Re-Use Batteries Instead Of Recycling Them – car batteries can still have up to 70% of their capacity when they stop being good enough to power electric vehicles, making them perfect – when broken down, tested and re-packaged – for functions such as home energy storage.
- Companies Are Looking At Ways To Reclaim Metals From Batteries – companies are looking at new recycling technology using a chemical process to retrieve all of the important metals from batteries
– vittana.org, earth911.com, theconversation.com, theguardian.com
Cons Of Electric Cars
- Currently Limited In How Far You Can Drive Them – you might get 300 miles on one full charge, depending on the model. But, some vehicles have a range of just 80-100 miles.
- There Aren’t A lot Of Recharging Stations Yet – most stations are centralized in urban areas, so there is still limited access in outer areas, and even in specific countries.
- Full Charging Takes A Long Time – For every hour of charging time that the average electric vehicle receives, it adds about 25 miles to its overall range – assuming that the power is coming from a 240v source. Compare that to a fuel-based vehicle that can have a range of up to 600 miles with a refill that only takes a few minutes.
- While most electric car engines take about four hours to reach a full charge, some take a whopping 15 to 20 hours
- Different Cars Can Take Different Charging Plugs – Every electric vehicle comes with a charging mechanism to allow its owner to refill its “tank” when the batteries are running low. When using a DC fast charger, not every connection type is fully compatible with modern charging rates. The CHAdeMO connections, for example, provide just 50kw of energy on a fast charger producing 350kw, which means you’d receive about 3 miles of additional range for every minute of charging.
- Higher Initial Retail Cost – The average cost of an electric car in the United States fits somewhere between $30,000 to $40,000. When looking at the size of the average electric vehicle, they are comparable to the small or mid-size market for fuel-based vehicles. That means the cost of an electric car may be double that of a fuel-based vehicle in the same category. Even if tax incentives are available, the electric car requires a higher capital cost that may be difficult to recover through lower maintenance and fuel costs.
- The more affordable electric car models start in the $30,000 to $40,000 range, while luxury models creep into the $80,000s and upward. Until technology advances and becomes less expensive to produce, consumers can expect to pay between $10,000 and $50,000 more for an EV.
- Fewer Options Than Combustion Engine Cars – Although there are 40+ electric vehicle options available on the market today, almost all vehicles that qualify as an electric car are either a pure compact or a mid-size sedan. There are innovations happening within the industry, with minivans, sports cars, and SUVs slowly being added to the ranks of offerings. When compared to the variety of options available in the fuel-based vehicle classes, however, the electric cars still have a long way to catch up.
- Only Specific Tax Incentives Might Be Available – Some geographic regions may offer electric car incentives at the state, country, or community level. Since 2010, however, the purchase of an electric car creates a credit that can be applied toward the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, only. If you are not required to pay the AMT, then you would not gain a financial advantage with the offered tax credits that are currently in place. Before finalizing your purchase, be sure to review all rules and regulations in your area governing your purchase to determine option availability.
- Also speak to a qualified tax expert or accountant to know the rules around EV tax concessions in your area.
- Re-Sale Value Can Depreciate Quickly, & Technology Gets Outdated Quickly – EV’s from 2018 are going to be far inferior to those available in 2028. If you buy an EV now, not only do you risk having a poor re-sale value, but you also rely on the manufacturer to support the technology your car currently uses into the future.
- Can Potentially Be Dangerous To Pedestrians – this may sound strange, but some EV’s are so quiet, that in urban areas, pedestrians and children may not be able to hear them coming or look to see them coming if they can’t hear them.
- EV Material Supply Chain Is International – as opposed to domestic for a lot of combustion engine cars
- EV Batteries Currently Rely On Finite & Rare Metals – such as lithium, dysprosium, lanthanum, neodymium, and praseodymium. This may present a supply problem down the road, it pushes prices up, and there are environmental and human rights issues raised on how these metals are mined in different parts of the world.
- Cobalt, a key component of the lithium-ion batteries in electric cars, is linked to reports of child labour. The nickel used in those same batteries is toxic to extract from the ground. And there are environmental concerns and land use conflicts connected with lithium mining in countries like Tibet and Bolivia.
- Certification schemes, such as the one proposed in Sweden, could help deliver low-impact battery value chains and avoid conflict minerals and human rights violations in the industry.
- Battery Recycling Can Still Be Improved – the scale/capacity at which batteries from old EV’s can be recycled, and recycling batteries properly to minimise waste and impact on the environment still needs to be improved.
- Lithium batteries carry a risk of giving off toxic gases if damaged, but core ingredients such as lithium and cobalt are finite and extraction can lead to water pollution and depletion among other environmental consequences.
- Improvements in recycling, innovation, and the greening of battery factories can go a long way towards reducing the impacts of battery production.
- The end goal would be closed loop recycling, and where most materials can be reclaimed
- It would also help if all car batteries were standardised and designed for recycling – to help with designing and making recycling plants and factories
- Battery Recycling Currently Isn’t Economically Viable – the cost of fully recycling a battery is falling toward €1 per kilo, but the value of the raw materials that can be reclaimed is only a third of that.
- Fixing EV Vehicles Can Be Inconvenient & Costly – most EVs get sent off to the dealer to get fixed, because a local mechanic doesn’t have the tools or knowledge to fix an EV system.
- EV Vehicles & Hydrogen Vehicles Not As Good In Certain Environments – such as rural areas and hot climates.
- EV Vehicles For Now Rely On Customer Support & Government Subsidies & Support – to advance, development progress the technology and quality of EV available.
- There Are Still Some Environmental Concerns With The Operation Of EV’s – there is concern about fine particle emissions. Electric cars are often heavier than conventional cars, and heavier vehicles are often accompanied by higher levels of non-exhaust emissions. The large torque of electric vehicles further adds to the fine dust problem, as it causes greater tyre wear and dispersion of dust particles.
- EV’s Won’t Solve Some Existing Road Problems – unlikely to solve urban mobility and infrastructure-related problems such as traffic congestion. Redesigning cities, encouraging biking, and encouraging more walking may be required to solve urban and CBD mobility and infrastructure and road issues.
- In Some Markets, Marketing & Awareness Of EVs Is An Issue – education, more marketing and awareness is required to get buyers involved in understanding what is available and what EVs offer.
– vittana.org, earth911.com, autoevolution.com, theconversation.com, businessinsider.com, theguardian.com
Other Notes On Electric Cars
- Electric cars are definitely progressing with their technology and what they allow drivers to do
- There’s still a lot of potential for growth, and there’s a lot of incentive to develop them further as they could be one of the biggest things that help address climate change (as emissions from transport is a big issue)
- Powering electric cars with renewable green energy in the future would be a big goal
- Improving the driving experience and features such as driving distance and charging time of EV cars would also be a goal to make them more competitive with combustion engine cars
- The US, China, Europe (including Scandinavia) and Japan are all increasing their EV purchase rates
- In 2017, over 1 million electric cars were sold in 2017 – a new record – with more than half of global sales in China. The total number of electric cars on the road surpassed 3 million worldwide, an expansion of over 50% from 2016.
- China, and the US have the most EV’s in circulation
- Norway, Iceland & Sweden have the highest % of EV market share
- EV batteries are becoming more affordable due to increased production and investment
- The number of electric cars on the road could reach 125 million by 2030, based on the policies already in place by governments around the world, or 220 million in 2030 with more ambitious policies
- [a recent report forecasts] sales of electric vehicles (EVs) increasing from a record 1.1 million worldwide in 2017, to 11 million in 2025 and then surging to 30 million in 2030 as they become cheaper to make than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. China will lead this transition, with sales there accounting for almost 50% of the global EV market in 2025.
- By 2040, 55% of all new car sales and 33% of the global fleet will be electric.
- Displacement of transport fuel – Electrified buses and cars will displace a combined 7.3 million barrels per day of transportation fuel in 2040.
- By 2030, about 1 in 5 new vehicle sales could involve an electric car in America.