During my journey of discovery on e-mobility I’ve had many conversations with business heads, academic experts and friends around this incredibly interesting and current topic. And it was interesting to see that people (and businesses) tended to use the same reasons why they could not, or would not invest in their first all-electric vehicle (EV). Of course, there are some that will never be convinced with EV’s. But that shouldn’t stop the rest of us. Maybe the reality is that ignorance is shrouding the truth and most of the arguments against EVs are based on myths. This blog sets out to expose the truth!

 

Myth 1: EVs are too new to trust

The truth is electric automobiles are nothing new and have been around for longer than we think. Looking back down the road, they were once America’s most popular choice of car, outselling gasoline and even steam-powered models! They generated less smell, noise, and vibration than traditional vehicle types, and were much easier to operate. Back in 1900, according the American Census, some 28% of US cars rolling off the production line were all-electric. 

In subsequent decades, EV development hit a variety of potholes along the way, but gained traction in the 1990s as we all grew increasingly concerned about energy consumption and air pollution. Over the past 20 years, innovation in e-mobility has been fast and furious accompanied by rising levels of EV reliability and user trust. In fact, 52% of people in a recent consumer survey say “wanting cutting-edge technology” is a key argument for buying electric vehicles. 

 

Myth 2: EVs owners have to spend more money

There’s clearly some confusion about the cost of EV ownership. In the same consumer survey, 62% of people argued for EVs because of lower long-term costs while 57% of people argued against EVs because of higher purchase prices. So what’s going on? 

Right now it’s true that investment in EVs is significantly higher than in conventional vehicles, sometimes up to 70% higher. The main cost driver for EVs is the battery (representing about 20% of the total cost of ownership) but bear in mind that the price of batteries is dropping fast, due to technology innovation and economies of scale. New research indicates that electric vehicles will “be cheaper to buy in the US and Europe as soon as 2025”, driven by decreasing battery prices. And until then, remember that EV running costs are roughly 20-30% lower than the costs of keeping a conventional vehicle on the road. With this total cost of ownership go down for use cases with high mileage per vehicle – it is as simple as that. Hence, let`s have a more differentiated discussion on cost for EVs considering different use cases. 

 

Myth 3: EVs are ideal for city usage

There’s no doubt that EVs are the perfect way to take short trips in cities, reducing the pollution and noise burden of many inner city areas. But that doesn’t mean e-mobility solutions are only suited to downtown deployment. Because of lower running costs, it also makes sense to use EVs for long-distance trips (see myth 2). Compared with a conventional vehicle, you’ll be saving money on every kilometer you clock up.  

 

Myth 4: There’s nowhere to charge up

Lack of charging facilities is a very popular argument for not investing in electric vehicles; it was used by some 69% of people in the above consumer survey. But we tend to forget that our cars spend a lot of time just sitting in one spot, which of course provides an ideal opportunity to charge a battery. In the UK, the transport policy and research RAC Foundation estimates “The average car is parked at home for 80% of the time, parked elsewhere for 16% of the time and in use for only 4% of the time”. With an EV, you tend to charge up wherever your vehicle is parked for the longest period of time – and overnight is ideal. So long as you have charging facilities at home, you’ll always have a convenient place to charge up. An if you commute with the EV your 2nd best option is to charge at your office!

Away from home, there is now a growing network of public and semi-public charging stations. The analyst ISH reports that the global EV charger market is set to “skyrocket” to more than 12.7 million units in 2020 (up from 1 million in 2014).

 

Myth 5: I’ll always be running out of charge - “range anxiety”

Concerns run deep about running out of battery power – some 68% of survey respondents argued against buying an EV for this reason. Known as “range anxiety”, this fear of failing to reach your next charging destination has restricted large-scale EV adoption. In fact, so many people are talking about it in Norway, their term for range anxiety (rekkeviddeangst) placed second in the country’s word of the year list! But now it’s time to debunk this myth. 

With many EVs on the market today, you only need a single charge to drive over 100 miles. The 2017 VW E-Golf will take you 125 miles, 2017 Ford Focus Electric 115 miles, 2017 Chevrolet Bolt 238 miles, and of course the 2017 Tesla Model S 90D a whopping 294 miles. It’s clear that EVs can cover the vast majority of daily journeys, as this US research shows: “nearly 90% of vehicles on the road could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available on the market today.”

 

Myth 6: EVs are only for consumers

Public discussion to date has tended to focus on consumer issues, and this has contributed to a myth that EVs are inappropriate for business use. In fact there ary only very few EVs on the market that are suited for businesses. But EVs are especially suited to corporate applications that are scheduled or repetitive – in other words, relatively predictable journeys. Last-mile deliveries are a particularly good fit because EVs often follow defined routes with known mileage, and vehicles can be recharged when sitting (often overnight) in a central depot.

One great example is the DPDHL Streetscooter. DPDHL created this first-of-its-kind electric van because they couldn’t find anything on the market to meet their needs. Initial designs were followed by prototypes and successful pilots, and now commercialization and full-scale production. There are already more than 2,500 Streetscooters on the road in Germany, and an additional 100 in the Netherlands, too. These figures should more than double by the end of 2017 and DPDHL is opening a second plant, supporting a production volume of 20,000 Streetscooters per annum when fully operational. Very interesting to put this number into perspective: Currently Germany has a fleet of about 25,000 all-electric vehicles in total!

DPDHL is also collaborating with Ford to design and build even larger emissions-free electric delivery vehicles. 

 

Just one more thing to say…

As well as debunking these myths, there’s one more important thing to say about EVs. In the past, we have treated private and business vehicles as depreciating assets. You put your money in and eventually you take out less (or nothing at all). But soon there will be an extraordinary possibility to generate income with EVs. The innovative vehicle-to-grid concept envisages supplying surplus power back to the grid from a critical mass of recharging EVs, and receiving payment for this. With all these advantages, it makes more sense than ever before to buy an electric vehicle.

 

Published: August 2017

Image: DHL