Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Image courtesy of Volvo Cars


You Have Questions About Electric Cars. We Have Answers (Part 3)

Part 3 of our series on the questions people have about electric cars delves into efficiency and carbon emissions.

Welcome to Part 3 of our series about the questions people have about electric cars. Let’s dig right in to the remaining questions, starting with:

Maintenance & Electric Cars

Q. How much does annual maintenance cost on a typical EV vs. a typical gas-powered automobile?

A. We see this question a lot. On a recent thread at the reddit EV forum, a number of posters said their most common maintenance expense were washer fluid, windshield wipers, a cabin filter, and tires. It should be noted that all cars have those same needs.

Look at it this way. A typical internal combustion engine and transmission combination has 5,000 or more parts whirring, whizzing, and spinning about. The likelihood of failure increases with the complexity of the machine. The powertrain for an electric car has between 3 and 10 moving parts. Fewer parts means fewer things to break.

In general, you can expect much lower costs to maintain an EV. Among other benefits of the EV lifestyle is greatly increased service life for brakes and rotors. Regenerative breaking can eliminate the need to use the mechanical brakes in almost all driving. It’s different and it takes a little getting used to, but it’s one of the features about electric cars that people say they like the best.

Q. With my gas powered vehicle, I can often get a repair done in 1-3 days. What does repair time, cost and complexity look like with EVs?

A. Individual experiences will vary. Supply chain issues are causing havoc for all vehicle owners at the present time. That will ease eventually, but I have a friend with a Ford F-150 who is having an issue with his transmission. He couldn’t get an appointment with his local dealer for 4 weeks. An independent transmission shop told him it would take 4 to 6 weeks to get the parts needed to fix the problem. He also had an issue with the valve train last winter that took the dealer 3 weeks to fix.

It is hard to extrapolate from one person’s experience, but it is fair to say that repairs to an electric car should not take any longer than they would take for a comparable issue with a conventional car.

electric cars

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV, image courtesy Chevrolet

Q. The costs of EVs seems geared towards people with above average to high paying jobs? What EVs could be considered realistically affordable for the “every man/every woman” who makes along the lines of $50,000 a year?

I am going to refer back to a similar question and answer in Part 2 of this series. New cars today are ridiculously expensive, but the prices of used cars are just insane. These simply are not normal times.

That being said, the pattern for introducing new technology has always been to appeal to more well-heeled customers first because they are more likely to influence the thinking of others. We saw this when personal computers and flat screen televisions first hit the market. Tesla intended the Model S to compete with the Mercedes S Class, the BMW 7 series, and Audi A7. The theory is the profits earned from those cars would help pay for the less expensive models to come later.

There are less expensive electric cars coming to market. The Chevy Bolt starts at less than $30,000, and that’s before any federal or local incentives. Add them into the mix and the net price drops closer to $20,000 than $30,000. The newly announced Chevy Equinox EV will be available next year and will start at around $30,000. Those are prices that ordinary Americans can afford.

Q. I often hear that buying an EV is aligned with taking action to care for the environment. What is the relative environmental impact of buying an EV vs. not eating meat?

A. Those seem like separate questions, but they have a common thread. The overarching consideration for every human being today is lowering or eliminating emissions that cause the average global temperature of the Earth to increase.

Only about 25% of the energy in a gallon of gasoline is put to use to move a conventional car forward. Imagine if three-quarters of all clothing or food was dumped into landfills. People would be outraged. But we ignore the waste associated with internal combustion engines because most people don’t know about it.

Automobiles powered by gasoline or diesel engines emit copious amounts of pollution, mostly carbon dioxide, but also fine particulates so small they cross directly into the bloodstream through our lungs, causing cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Do we really want our family and friends breathing that stuff?

Meat accounts for 60% of all emissions from food production, according to The Guardian. We need food to survive, but we also need to reduce our total carbon emissions in order to live in a sustainable world. We can move closer to that goal by reducing the amount of meat we raise and consume.

Q. For people who cannot be persuaded to adopt an EV based on environmental concerns, what “individualistic” case can be made for why an EV is simply a better car and superior driving experience?

We have touched on many characteristics of electric cars that many people find appealing. Here is one word of advice. Drive one. Hertz and many other companies now have them in their rental fleets. For many people, the power, agility, lack of exhaust smell, convenience of charging, and lower operating costs all add up to a superior driving experience.

The Takeaway

My brother in law certainly had a bunch of questions. I hope I have answered most of them intelligently. Questions are welcome. To a professional sales person, they are buying signs. People who have no interest in a product smile and nod, but don’t ask questions. People who ask questions are a sale waiting to happen. I had a former manager who said when people start asking questions, get ready to fill out the purchase agreement!

This list of questions is by no means exhaustive. Many of you will have questions of your own. The best advice we can give you is to talk to people who drive electric cars. Do your research online. Make use of resources like reddit where you can find answers to your questions from a community of EV owners with real world experience who are happy to help others discover the advantages of electric cars.

Every new technology follows a predictable pattern. It starts with first movers, transitions to early adopters, then moves on to mainstream buyers. Electric cars are at a tipping point today. Now is the perfect time to join the EV revolution.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


You May Also Like

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.