6 reasons why you’d be crazy to buy an electric car

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.

1

Get used to travelling light

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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.

2

You might really hurt someone

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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.

3

It could even bankrupt you

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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.

4

Things could get pretty… heated

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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.

5

Prepare to go it alone with a spanner

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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.

6

Because you live in a tenth story apartment

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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…

Posted by Richard Lane

Richard is a London-based automotive journalist specialising in future mobility and sustainable design. Having fallen for cars because of the virtues of a particular German flat-six, it's what we'll all be driving next that now interests Richard most. Dream garage: Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior and a Detroit Electric SP:01.

  1. Martha Geschier January 13, 2016 at 3:22 PM

    I’m owner of I-Miev 2014, the tile of the article called my attention but really is ” Stupid” to buy an electric, at least I feel that way since I shoot myself on the foot by buying this car….At the dealer they make me believe 2,500 from State and 7,500 federal for Tax Credit, so 10K made sense and then I pulled the trigger saying ” let’s do it” . Well the 2,500 were real but the 7,500 turned out (on april 2015) that were not refundable, so basically since I receive regular return , then not entitled to the 7,500.00… I was really dissapoint , ( Later the Dealer cover their end modifying their AD as consult a Tax expert about credit**) Obvious I was not inform on that sensitive topic. Besides the 7.5K lost the battery life sucks to half (31 miles range) on winter, therefore I can’t turn on the heater if I want to make it back home. CONCLUSION : ELECTRIC CAR, with 62 miles range is the worst deal on my life!!!

    Reply

  2. Where to begin… how about this. In your “About” dialog box after your article you list the Detroit Electric SP:01 – this after writing an article on why not to buy an electric car. Now, point by point:

    1. The Golf will allow you to carry one extra basketball with you if you need to. Maybe two if you flatten them some.

    2. Pedestrian warning sounds are required by law in the U.S. under 19 miles per hour. NHTSA determined that above this speed electric and hybrid vehicles sound similar to internal combustion engine vehicles.

    3. Nissan released the price of their battery for the LEAF at $5,499. If replacement is required after 100,000 miles (many LEAF owners have already driven well beyond this on their original battery) the LEAF should be good for another 100,000 miles. A gas car that averages 25 mpg overall (not many do) with gasoline costing just $3 per gallon will take 4,000 gallon to cover the first 100,000 miles and another 4,000 gallons to cover the next 100,000 miles. That’s $24,000 in gasoline costs. Over ten years the cost of gasoline will likely average more than $3 per gallon, so these savings may be conservative. EPA says the LEAF uses 34,000 kWh to travel 100,000. At the national average of $0.12 per kWh, it will cost $4,080 to drive the first 100,000 and the same for the second 100,000. Electricity and battery costs amount to less than $14,000, or a $10,000 savings for the electric car.

    4. They are too concentrated in certain areas? Isn’t that the idea?

    5. Any dealership that is certified to sell an electric car is certified to repair it.

    6. Valid point. In certain forward thinking areas, electric vehicle charge station capabilities are being mandated into building codes and some apartment dwellers are already taking advantage of them.

    More manufacturers are moving into the electric car market because a percentage of the population wants them. In time, once the benefits are seen by more drivers, more of the population will want them. Especially when the second generation vehicles start arriving in the not too distant future.

    Reply

    1. Hi Ernie, and thanks for your comment!

      You make some good points, but did you know that we’re actually covering exclusively EVs and hybrid vehicles? This post was a rather fun way to “think outside the box”…

      We thought the first two sentences made that clear…

      Cheers,
      TL | ecomento.com

      Reply

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