That headline was a little sensational – we apologize for that.
That said, while ecomento thinks that electric cars are more than likely the future of personal transport for a number of excellent reasons, there are some notable drawbacks. And if you’re seriously thinking about buying an electric car they are worth knowing about.
We haven’t addressed the two main disadvantages of electric cars – range and charge time – because they’ve been done to death. Suffice to say that electric cars, on average, manage around 90 miles of range and take roughly six hours to charge up from a domestic source.
Some electric cars, like the Tesla Model S, package their huge batteries so cleverly that cargo space is left uncompressed. Most, however, don’t, and the repercussions are severe.
For example, the Ford Focus Electric has 14.5 cubic feet of space behind the second row of seats, which is rather a lot less than the 23.8 cubic feet you get in the standard Focus. The Nissan LEAF’s 23.6 cubic feet is much better, but it still can’t match the Volkswagen Golf’s 25.5 cubic feet. Choose your electric car wisely if luggage space is important to you.
This is a slightly dark topic but extremely significant, nevertheless. Anybody who has driven an electric car in a built-up locale will attest to the fact that pedestrians and cyclists rely on sound almost as much as they do sight.
Below 30mph your electric car won’t produce any tire roar or wind noise. It means that to someone who isn’t looking your electric car may as well not exist. Mandates for synthesized electric vehicle sounds will come into place soon but they don’t exist yet, so don’t expect others to compensate for your lapse in concentration.
This is one of the hot topics – perhaps the hottest of all – currently surrounding electric car ownership.
Batteries are what make these cars so expensive to buy, but like mobile phone and laptop batteries the lithium-ion batteries in EVs are susceptible to degradation. Automakers are secretive about how much each battery costs, but Ford’s figure of $12,000 to $15,000 (from 2011) for the Focus Electric gives us a ballpark figure of what the cost of replacing one might be. Ouch.
Companies like Nissan offer an extended battery warranty for $100 per month after the car’s main warranty expires, and buyers can lease the battery from the automaker in certain cases (such as smart), which protects your wallet somewhat. Batteries certainly will degrade after big mileage, so don’t get caught out.
With increasing electric car sales this is a relatively new phenomenon, and has more to do with human nature than any problems with electric cars.
The ratio of electric cars to charge points is six to one in some parts of California and the result is the unplugging of cars, handbags at dawn and general bitchiness. One owner has even had their cable cut with a pair of scissors and many Silicon Valley companies now have rotational charge station reservation slots for their employees.
If you’re the kind of person who avoids (or actively seeks) confrontation, this ugly but growing trend of charge rage is probably a good reason of stave of buying an EV until public charging stations are more widespread. If not, here are some tips.
While one of the chief boons of electric cars is that they are incredibly easy and relaxing to use for their owners, service technicians at your local dealership may see them slightly differently.
Electric cars require specialist training to service and are potentially lethal due to the high voltage circuits between the battery pack and electric motor. Product specialists selling the cars on the front lines at dealerships also need at least a basic knowledge of electric cars. Both are lacking in some circumstances, while other dealerships don’t sell EVs at all due to the cost of training staff.
BMW i3 guru Tom Moloughney’s recent experiences ‘educating’ various BMW staff are… enlightening.
We said we wouldn’t mention charge time, but that’s only a problem if you actually have somewhere to charge.
Despite the emphasis on public charging stations, the vast majority of charging takes place in people’s garages and on their driveways overnight. Urban apartments generally lack either of these amenities and so charging up your electric vehicle will be limited to workplace (if you’re lucky) and public charging stations. There aren’t many ways around this problem, unless you want to emulate this guy…