Seven myths about electric cars demystified

Everything EV | 23 April 2024
An aerial view directly above electric cars being charged at a motorway service station car charging station

There’s a lot of “fake news” flying around about electric vehicles (EVs) and EV charging. Much of it ranges from the claim that electric cars are more expensive to run than their petrol-powered counterparts and that they generate as much pollution.

With EVs signalled to be standard on UK roads by 2035, Britain’s motorists must look beyond the misconceptions and scare stories so that they can get to grips with the real benefits of having an electric car. 

So, with that in mind, we’ve decided it’s time to ditch the fiction and take a look at the real facts. 

MYTH #1: EVs are more expensive to run than Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Cars

FACT: Research shows that petrol and diesel cars are far more expensive to fuel and maintain than EVs

Buying an electric car is proven to save motorists money in the long run. Recent research from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) shows how the most popular petrol cars cost £700 a year more to run than EVs. 

When analysing the costs of 2023’s top 10 selling EVs, the ECIU discovered that those owners are likely to pay a whopping £1,300 a year less to run their cars than owners of the equivalent petrol cars. 

One of the main savings is in fuel costs, especially when people charge their EVs at home. For a typical family car (the size of a VW Golf), the cost of 200 miles is under £5 when charging at home, versus £20 for petrol or diesel.

But fuel is only one of the cost savings you can expect with an electric car. Conventional diesel and petrol cars have about 200 moving parts. From fuel filters to spark plugs, these components have to be maintained and occasionally replaced to ensure the vehicle runs well. 

Because battery electric cars (BEVs) have much fewer parts, they don’t need to be serviced as much. In fact, it’s estimated that an EV’s maintenance bills are around 43 per cent less than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. 

One thing to be aware of as an EV driver, however, is that because electric cars are generally heavier than ICE vehicles, their tyres wear down faster. This means that they may need to be replaced more often than the tyres on ICE vehicles.

Road Taxes and Pollution Charges

A further way electric car drivers keep more money in their wallets than petrol and diesel-engine car owners is down-to-road taxes. 

Currently, EV owners in the UK do not have to pay road tax, known as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). Though this will change on 1st April 2025, all newly registered EVs will still only pay VED at the lowest rate. 

In addition, if you’re driving a high-polluting car in any of Britain’s emissions-based zones, such as London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), you’ll have to pay a charge. 

MYTH #2: Charging at home is just as expensive as public charging

FACT: Public EV charging is 20 times more expensive than home car charging

Think there’s little difference between EV home charging and public charging? Think again. The most up-to-date data (February 2024) shows how using public charge points to power up your car can be 20 times more expensive than charging at home where you can utilise cost-saving EV tariffs. A report carried out by UK-based digital payment solutions company, Allstar, found that while home charging rates can be as low as 4p per kWh, public prices can exceed £1. 

Costs using both home EV chargers and public stations can vary depending on the supplier and the time of day you fuel up, but Allstar discovered that the greatest variances occurred in public charging rather than private.

While the most expensive home charging cost was 50p, this was still much lower than the highest-priced public charge which came in at £1.20. When you consider what that would cost you over an electric car’s lifetime, it’s easy to see how using an installed EV home charger rather than relying on public stations will save you thousands in the overall running costs of your vehicle. 

MYTH #3: EV home installations aren’t worth the investment 

FACT: Your investment will not only save you money but also time  

The cost of setting up an EV home charging installation can set you back £1,000 to £1,200. While this is a substantial sum, when you look at the above figures of how much you can save by charging at home using a competitive EV tariff in comparison to how much you’ll spend when charging at a public station, you can see that your initial investment will likely be paid back within a couple of years.  

Most electric car owners charge their car overnight when the off-peak rates are significantly lower. This ensures that, even in a volatile energy market, they’re always achieving the best price possible. 

In addition, they only have to pay the 5 per cent VAT on their domestic energy use unlike with public charging where you’ll need to stump up 20 per cent VAT.

But it’s not just the huge savings that make an EV home installation worth the investment. The unparalleled convenience and control you have over when, where and how much you charge your electric car is for many EV drivers not just worth it—but priceless.

MYTH #4: EVs don’t have enough range

FACT: Today’s EVs typically have an average range of 200-300 miles on a single charge, with some models having even more.

Depending on the model of your EV, you can generally expect to drive over 200 miles (321 km) if not more, before you need to recharge. 

Considering that the average commute distance for a single occupancy car journey is 19.5 miles (31 km), with 59 per cent of car trips in the UK under five miles we think it’s safe to assume that the fear your EV will regularly run out of power is pretty unfounded. 

MYTH#5: EVs are not as green as they claim to be

FACT: EVs’ do not emit greenhouse gases—though there are other concerns

Unlike cars that run on fossil fuels, electric cars do not emit greenhouse gases. Of course, some might charge using non-renewable energy from the grid, though this will depend on the energy supplied by their energy supplier.

However, over the last decade, Britain has been making strides towards lowering its reliance on non-renewable sources of energy, with zero-carbon electricity production overtaking fossil fuels for the first time in 2019. According to the National Grid, wind power alone now contributes 29.4% of the UK’s total electricity generation today, with solar power, nuclear power and biomass energy not too far behind. 

It must be noted, though, that as EVs begin replacing other types of vehicles in the UK and across the world, there are genuine concerns about the large-scale manufacturing of electric cars and what happens later to their used batteries. 

Of course, several EV manufacturers are already one step ahead. Nowadays, many electric cars are constructed using recycled materials to lessen the potential environmental stress that comes with this mass production. 

Moreover, leading car companies such as Tesla, Ford, and Toyota have initiated battery recycling programmes, creating a circular supply chain wherein materials from old batteries are repurposed to build new batteries.  

If other major EV manufacturers follow suit, these initiatives will greatly reduce the negative impact that mass EV production could potentially have on the environment

MYTH #6: EV batteries degrade quickly

FACT: EV batteries last up to 200,000 miles on average

The lithium-ion batteries used in most modern EVs are highly robust. They have a higher energy density than conventional lead-acid batteries (i.e. they can store more energy in a lighter and smaller size).

In comparison to cars with petrol and diesel engines, which need regular maintenance along with repairs and replacement parts, EVs do not. According to the National Grid, most EV batteries last up to 200,000 miles (320,000 km) and over and typically travel 391 miles (630 kilometres) more each year than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. 

Additionally, while these estimates are based on the current EV models zipping up and down Britain motorways, considering that electric car manufacturers are evolving new technology, most experts accept that battery lifespan will continue to increase over the next few years.

MYTH #7: There aren’t enough public chargers

FACT: There are currently over 50,000 public chargers across the UK

OK, we’ll admit it—there’s a little bit of truth to this particular myth. Though the British government has committed to rolling out 300,000 public chargers by 2030, they’re currently behind on their promise. 

As of 1 January 2024, there were 53,677 public EV charging devices installed in the UK, ranging from slow and fast to rapid and super-rapid. While that number might seem high to some, many of these charge points are concentrated in urban areas. 

Finding them can be easy with an app like Zapmap, which highlights the majority of the country’s public charging stations, but there are still downsides to consider. These include the time it takes to drive there, the possibility of queues and, of course, high charging costs if you’re charging during peak electricity hours. 

This is why we at Powerverse recommend that all EV owners consider a home EV charger installation. Besides the overall cost-effectiveness of installing a car charger at home, the convenience of being able to charge your EV as needed and on your own time is a massive bonus.

To find out more about EV home charger installations you can contact the team at Powerverse.

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