Winning People’s Hearts To EVs & Renewables

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By Jose Pontes, EV Volumes

When regular people know I am working in the plug-in car business, their first reaction is: “Oh yeah, that’s the future…”

Some connect that with fighting climate change and give me the thumbs up. Others, possibly more tech-savvy, mention autonomous cars and Tesla, a brand that has a following even outside the electric vehicle bubble. I suspect a portion of Tesla owners buy them because they are sexy, fast, and tech laden, with Autopilot being its most important feature — and the fact that they are electric is just an added bonus.

Then, there’s either the naysayers reasoning why they won’t buy an EV soon (“Yeah, but EVs are too expensive…”; “I need a car that runs 600 kilometers without stopping…”; “If EV batteries are like those on my laptop…”). Or, if I’m lucky, I get people more open to the possibility of jumping into the unknown, which usually is cause to a bunch of questions:

How much is the range now?

Teslas have over 500 km average range, but for more realistic prices, the Renault Zoe can reach 300 km average range and the upcoming Opel Ampera-e is close to 400 km.

Are they becoming cheaper?

Yes, they are. At first, they were outrageously expensive. (Remember the days a Mitsubishi i-MiEV cost over €30,000?) Now, they are just expensive. And don’t forget, there are EV purchase incentives to help offset the cost.

Is there an electric VW Golf/Renault Clio/etc.?

Unless you want a 7-seat family-sized vehicle for less than €50,000, there are fully electric vehicles (BEV) or plug-in hybrids (PHEV) for all shapes and sizes.

I don’t see them on the road. How much are they selling?

Not a lot for now, but sales are growing 30% in the U.S. and 25% in Europe, where the increased-range Renault Zoe and BMW i3 are pulling the market up. By the way, did you know that one in three cars sold this year in Norway is a plug-in?

How much money can I save by buying a fully electric car?

Depends on the car you want and the kilometers you drive, but on a minimum, you can save around €1,000 per year.

I like Tesla/BMW i8, but do other electric cars have to be so ugly?

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder … for those who do not like BMW i3–standout designs, you always have the middle of the road VW e-Golf.

The naysayers are the most challenging group to convince, but there are ways to win them over:

“EVs are too expensive”

Yes, EVs are more expensive than regular gas cars, but did you know that if you charge your car at home, you only spend €1.50 for every 100 km? That means that in a year that you do 20,000 km, you spend €300 on fuel; if you do the same in a diesel car, you will spend over a thousand euros, and add that to the savings on road tax, maintenance, etc. By the way, did you know that EVs have dedicated parking spots in Lisbon (insert city of your choice) — for free?

(After the first reaction of awe, the naysayers starts to sketch some math on the dinner napkin…)

Now, about naysayer number 2: “I need a car that runs 600 km without stopping”

Okay, you need the freedom to do many kilometers on weekends without having to wait half an hour each time you want to charge your EV. Then possibly the best solution for you would be a plug-in hybrid. You can leave your home with 40-something kilometers of electric range, and let’s say your commute trip to work is 40 km, half your trips on weekdays run on electricity, even 100% if you can charge at your workplace. Now, if you do all your work commute trips on electricity, this equates to some 18,000 km each year … or €1,000. Each year. Without any kind of mobility sacrifice.

Even the naysayer number 3 — “If EV batteries are like those on my laptop…” — can be rebuked, by saying that battery degradation depends on which car we are mentioning, then quoting that studies involving Teslas say that after 200,000 km, the Model S has an 8% degradation rate. In a car with 400 km of range when new, that means its range would be reduced to 368 km after 200,000 km. … Not bad, eh?

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