What are the pros and cons of electric cars?

pros and cons of electric cars

Electric cars are part of a clean energy future – but what are the pros and cons of electric cars?

What do electric car owners (and electric vehicle (EV) owners in general) experience? What do they love about owning an electric car and what do they hate?

Let’s take a look at the things to consider before you buy an electric car.

Top pros and cons of electric cars

Pros of electric cars:

  • Zero emissions
  • Energy efficient
  • Lower carbon footprint
  • Cheaper to run
  • Great performance
  • Less maintenance
  • Tax benefits and incentives

Cons of electric cars:

  • Limited range
  • Charging time
  • Charging points
  • Higher initial cost
  • Expensive battery replacement

We’ll unpack these pros and cons a little more, but first let’s look at how electric cars actually work…

How do electric cars work?

Electric cars are powered by electricity instead of petrol or diesel.

The motor of an electric car is turned by the energy from an onboard battery which is charged through an external charging port. This electrically-powered motor then turns the wheels. Electric cars have excellent acceleration (higher than petrol or diesel-engine cars), similar to the toy electric cars or remote control cars you used to play with when you were a kid.

If you use a source of renewable energy (such as solar energy, wind or hydroelectric energy) to charge the battery of your electric vehicle it is better for the environment than if you charged it using coal-powered electricity.

What are the benefits of electric cars?

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of owning an electric car.

Electric cars have zero emissions

There is no exhaust pipe on an electric car! This is because electric cars do not create pollution such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide (unlike petrol or diesel-powered vehicles).

Electric cars are energy efficient

The energy from the battery is used to drive the electric motor and turn the wheels – therefore almost all the energy in an electric car is converted into the mechanical energy needed to move the car. Petrol and diesel-powered vehicles lose a great deal of energy through heat as a result of the conversion of energy in an internal combustion energy from fuel to mechanical energy. This means that electric cars are much more efficient than other types of cars.

Electric cars have a lower carbon footprint

Fossil fuels (like coal and oil) are used in the petroleum industry to create the fuels needed for traditional cars. Electric cars have a much lower carbon footprint because the energy they use is 100% electrical. If this electrical energy comes from renewable energy sources (such as solar, hydro, wind or geothermal) the carbon footprint of electric cars are much smaller.

Carbon in the atmosphere creates the greenhouse effect which leads to global warming and catastrophic climate change. Electric cars are therefore good for the environment because they have a much lower carbon footprint than other vehicles.

Electric cars are cheaper to run

The cost of running an electric vehicle is the cost of charging it plus maintenance costs.

Charging an electric vehicle using renewable energy from the sun, wind or other renewable energy sources is much cheaper than the cost of running a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle.

The cost of fossil fuels keeps increasing and is currently incredibly high as a result of wars and oil supply economics and shortages. Governments also add fuel levies to the price of petrol which further increases the costs for motorists.

Maintenance costs are much lower for electric cars compared to fossil-fuel powered cars.

Electric cars, powered by renewable energy, are incredibly cheaper to run compared to traditional cars.

Electric cars have great performance

The acceleration from an electric car is incredible.

Electric cars and trucks have consistently outperformed traditional vehicles because the energy from the electric motor is instantly available. Electric vehicles are also incredibly powerful because the torque from an electric motor is much higher than gas vehicles.

Torque is the power that drives the car forward and because electric cars don’t need a traditional transmission system, all the power from the motor is immediately available to turn the wheels.

Electric cars require less maintenance

What maintenance does an electric car need?

Electric cars (100% EV) require very little maintenance. The maintenance required includes checkups on the battery, braking system and safety systems but compared to the traditional gas-powered cars EVs are very low maintenance.

Traditional cars have more fluids, oils and moving parts maintenance requirements compared to electric cars and as a result the cost of ownership of an electric car is much lower.

Electric cars can have tax benefits and incentives

Certain countries, states and cities around the world give tax benefits and incentives to people who own electric cars. Developed countries with pro-renewable energy government policies are doing all they can to move people away from traditional cars which cause climate change to renewable energy electric cars.

If you are lucky enough to live in a country or state with tax breaks or incentives, you should definitely consider buying an electric car.

What are the disadvantages of electric cars?

Let’s explore the downside of owning an electric car. It’s important to understand what you are getting into before you buy an electric car, despite its many advantages.

Electric cars have limited range

Range is the distance a vehicle can travel before it must be refueled or recharged.

Currently the best electric cars on the market have a range of greater than 600km (372 miles) with an average range of 321km (200 miles) across all EV manufacturers.

Over time, and as technology improves, this range has increased significantly, so the future looks good despite the relatively shorter ranges you can experience from electric cars compared to traditional cars.

Electric cars have a charging time

You can’t currently just fill up your tank and go if you own an electric car. Electric car batteries need to be charged (unless you do a quick battery swap at a battery station).

The time it takes to charge your electric car depends on the make and model as well as whether you are charging from a wall socket or other means.

Like smartphone chargers, there are rapid and regular chargers available, so the charging time does really depend on a number of factors. Charging factors include battery size, charging capacity, the current state of charge and even weather conditions (temperature).

There is also top-up charging vs full charging to consider. Best practice is to top of your electric car whenever it is parked, so it is always better to park it near a charging point.

In the future electric car charging will be much faster than now, and there will be more and more charging points available. It is predicted that EV recharging will take place in less than 20 minutes in the next 5 to 10 years.

Electric cars have limited charging points

You can set up a charging point for your electric car at your home but what about around the city or when you head on a long trip across the country or multiple countries?

You will be surprised at how many electric charging points there actually are for electric cars, but it requires more planning than for traditional cars because there are still many more gas stations than electric charging points available.

The availability of charging points for electric cars differs depending on your city, state or country and should be carefully researched before you buy.

Luckily Google Maps and other online maps show you exactly where you can find electric car charging points.

Electric cars have a higher initial cost

It’s well known that electric cars (like Tesla) are much more expensive than traditional gas-powered cars. The electric car industry is new and has not traditionally been supported by oil-funded governments.

The cost of electric cars are significantly lower now than 10 years ago, and falling fast. Greater competition is driving prices down and some states and countries even offer incentives to people who buy electric cars.

This is great news for the future of electric cars, even though the initial cost is higher right now.

Electric car batteries are expensive to replace

Good batteries (such as lithium ion) are expensive up-front but last for a very long time. They don’t last forever though and when it comes time to replace the battery it can hit your pocket.

Thankfully the prices of batteries are coming down as competition increases and technologically makes it cheaper to make good batteries.

What are hybrid cars?

Hybrid cars are cars that can run on both electric or gas (petrol/diesel) power. Hybrid vehicles have all the pros and cons of both traditional cars and fully electric cars.

Hybrid cars require maintenance of both the traditional car systems (fuel, transmission, lubricants, braking) and the electric systems (battery). As a result you might end up paying more for maintenance but the advantage is that you have a greater range and do not rely on limited charging points when you drive a hybrid.

Conclusion: should I get an electric car?

Absolutely yes, if you are able to afford one and if your city or state has sufficient charging points. If you live in country (like South Africa) with limited electricity supply and limited charging stations, then the electric car is not for you (yet), but countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and most of Europe offer excellent electric car charging facilities, tax breaks and incentives.

Electric cars ARE the future, even though the fossil fuel industry is doing all it can to stop them.

Electric cars are good for the environment and cheaper to run in the long run, so it is absolutely a no-brainer if you live in a country with reliable electricity and charging points.

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