The electric vehicle industry, especially that in India, is a nascent one and is, as a result, shrouded in mystery and doubts. As is the case with any emerging technology that has not been around long enough to have been adequately explored and perfected, the misconceptions surrounding EV technology and electric vehicles are many. While asking questions often promotes a deeper understanding of the subject, these myths pertaining to electric vehicles may inhibit the growth of the industry. As such, it is crucial to clear them up so that potential buyers are not discouraged and the industry can flourish and eventually reach its full potential.
For several years, the electric vehicle industry was considered a niche market, viable only for those who have large amounts of disposable income. Though that still is the case in India, at least to a certain degree, the number of automobile manufacturers looking to go electric is on the rise, and steadily so. Relatively more affordable electric solutions are coming to the forefront as more and more people start actively looking into purchasing an electric vehicle.
The time, therefore, to clear the mist of misinformation and doubts restricting the growth of an industry otherwise teeming with potential is now. Let us take a look at some of the most common myths pertaining to EVs and why they are false.
Myth 1: Electric vehicles are expensive and unaffordable
This is easily the most popular notion regarding electric vehicles—that they are extremely expensive, more so than their fossil fuel-powered counterparts. At first glance, this claim does hold true. Electric cars or two-wheelers indeed have a much heftier price tag in comparison to fuel-powered vehicles. The batteries that drive EVs, most commonly lithium-ion batteries, are expensive to produce. The cathode present in this type of battery is made of materials such as nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium, and is consequently the most expensive component in the battery.
The high production cost of this lithium-ion cell is the sole contributor to the price of an electric vehicle. However, it is important to take note of the running costs of electric vehicles and compare them to that of fuel-driven vehicles. Even the most frugal fuel car costs thousands in running expenses annually. An electric vehicle, on the other hand, is extremely economical and runs on a fraction of the expenses of fuel-powered cars. Especially if charged at home, the annual running costs of an EV are significantly lesser. Not just that, an electric vehicle also has much greater second-hand value in comparison to traditional ICE vehicles as they hold their value for much longer.
All in all, though buying an EV calls for a large investment upfront, it is considerably cheaper to own in the long run.
Myth 2: EV batteries are unreliable and have a short lifespan
Another common misconception about electric vehicles calls into question the durability and reliability of EV batteries. Those hesitant to buy an electric two or four-wheeler justify their reluctance with the claim that the batteries in these vehicles degrade very quickly and have to be replaced every couple of years.
This is, however, far from the truth. While the batteries that power electric vehicles are very similar to the ones used in smartphones, they are designed to operate and charge in a much smarter and more efficient way. When charging an EV, it is only the depleted cells in the battery that are replenished, thereby distributing the load across the numerous cells that constitute the whole battery pack. It is this that makes the disintegration of EV batteries a rather slow process. A study conducted on Tesla cars reveals that, on average, the battery suffered only 10% degradation over a distance of a whopping 160,000 miles. That is anything but the sign of a battery that is quick to degrade.
It is important to note that many electric vehicle manufacturers offer long warranty periods on the battery. If the batteries typically had a short lifespan, such a warranty period would cost these companies a fortune. This only goes on to show that the batteries in electric vehicles are as reliable as they can get.
Myth 3: Electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire
There is absolutely no denying that the lithium-ion batteries present in electric vehicles have fire characteristics that are very disparate from those of a standard fossil fuel engine. A common belief is that this makes EV batteries, and the vehicle as a whole, much more flammable and more prone to fire-related accidents. This is simply untrue.
Let us get the facts straight—lithium-ion batteries burn slowly and for a very long time if they catch fire, emitting toxic fluoride gases in the process. However, since they burn slowly and the fire takes quite a while to grow into a conflagration, it leaves the passengers enough time to get away unscathed. The standard ICE engine, on the other hand, is not only much more likely to catch fire, but it also burns significantly faster than an EV battery, exponentially increasing the extent of damage to the vehicle as well as the threat of injury to the passengers.
It is thus safe to say that the risk is the same across all vehicles, regardless of how they are powered. There are certain precautions that one can take for the battery of an electric vehicle. This includes having collision detectors in place which can anticipate any damage to the battery and disconnect its fuses at the right time or use cooling systems to prevent overheating. Some EVs come with a protective encasement around the battery made of sturdy metals like steel and aluminum.
Myth 4: EVs have an insufficient range and take a long time to charge
Range anxiety is all too common a reason why many prospective buyers refrain from purchasing an electric vehicle. The fact of the matter, however, is that the EV models currently available in the market have far better range than the models that were first brought to the market. Not only that, but they also take much less time to charge than they initially did. An MIT-conducted study shows that a whopping 87 percent of trips completed by ICE vehicles can also be completed by electric vehicles. With a well-connected extensive network of EV charging stations, the range should be the least of one’s concerns when looking to purchase an electric vehicle.
Just like any new industry, there is a lot yet to be discovered and improved upon in the realm of electric vehicles. The infrastructure supporting the growth of this industry also calls for special attention. This, in combination with educating people on the facts about this type of vehicle, can give this industry the boost that it needs for large-scale adoption.