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Electric Vehicle Misconceptions: Managed!

Information you and your drivers need to know about common EV misunderstandings.

Most consumers and fleet managers aren’t familiar with electric vehicles, and thus have some ideas or concerns about EVs that are not based in reality. We’re going to address some common EV myths here and bust them open. Some myths are just flat out black and white issues — like whether or not you can tow with an electric vehicle (of course, you can) — and some are more nuanced. We’ll do our best to tackle core myths of both kinds.

Myth: Batteries don’t have enough range yet

In the majority of cases, EV batteries have more than enough range for daily use, without needing a top-up charge. Take a mid-market EV like the Hyundai IONIQ 5 as an example. The shortest-range version has a 58kWh battery with a range of more than 238 miles, and can be charged back up to 200+ miles in under 20 minutes on the fastest chargers. The average annual mileage for drivers has varied hugely during the pandemic, but in 2018, the average annual miles for a light duty truck or van was 11,543 — which equates to 32 miles a day.

Myth: You can’t tow with an EV

Many EVs are perfectly capable of towing, but there are some things to consider first. The extra weight of the caravan or trailer will almost certainly affect range (just as it does MPG with a traditional car or van), but EVs are heavier too, so be careful not to exceed the maximum combined vehicle and trailer weight on your driving license. 

Myth: EVs take too long to charge

EVs can charge at various speeds, and it’s usually a case of choosing what you need for each situation. The US Department of Transportation reports that overnight charging from a standard 7kW Level 2 charger, a 60kWh battery would take about 4–10 hours to fully charge from an empty battery, but public chargers are usually much faster. If the EV can use a Level 3 public charger, that same capacity battery would take 20 minutes to an hour to charge. It’s all about having a charging strategy and using the right charger at the right time.

Myth: EVs are too expensive

EVs can be expensive to buy, partly because of the cost of the battery, which is made from minerals like lithium, cobalt and nickel, and these are high in demand. Strong residual values, lower fuel costs, fewer services and reduced tax bills means that the whole life costs of EVs can often be lower than that of fuel equivalents.

Myth: Batteries will need replacing

EV’s in the US are required to have an eight-year or 100,000 mile warranties on batteries. In fact, batteries (if they have been looked after) may offer plenty of range after that. Batteries with smarter controllers and charging systems have made tremendous progress in improving the longevity of EV batteries, and the experts (like JB Straubel, one of the inventors of the battery tech used in the original Tesla Roadster and founder of Redwood Materials) are banking on these EV batteries lasting about 15 years before they need to be replaced.

Myth: EVs are not as green as they seem

Undoubtedly, there are some environmental concerns about mining for the precious metals needed in EV batteries, and the creation of electricity to power them. But ‘well to wheel’ studies, considering all the effects of production and operation, mostly tend to show EVs are cleaner than equivalent gas and diesel models. An EU study concluded the overall CO2 emissions to run an EV were just under 60g/.6 miles, compared to more than 140g/.6 miles for gas and nearly 130g/.6 miles for diesel.

Myth: The grid can’t cope with millions of EVs charging

Most vehicles aren’t driven hundreds of miles a day and there isn’t a need to charge them at high power rates since they can slowly charge when we eat, work, and sleep. Adding them to our home electricity usage is not as dramatic as we may assume. In California, in 2030, when electric vehicles are projected to account for more than 5 million vehicles on the road, Lindsay Buckley, a spokesperson for the California Energy Commission, says they won’t even account for 5% of the load on the grid.

Additionally, utilities can plan for EV adoption and increase their power capacity and grid infrastructure accordingly. EVs are currently estimated to make up 6% of sales in the US; it’ll take many years before all cars on the road are electric. “Even though this transition is happening fast, it’s not going to happen that fast,” says Jeff Allen, executive director of EV advocacy nonprofit Forth. “Even if all new cars sold were electric, it would take at least a decade for all vehicles on the road to be electric.”

In some cases, electric vehicles can even act as distributed energy storage for the grid, able to send electricity back into the grid when needed. Some electric school bus fleets, for example, are being set up this way. “Can the grid survive without EVs?” says Forth’s Jeff Allen. “What we need on the grid is more storage. We’re buying millions of kWhs of storage – it’s just on wheels.”

To make things even easier, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 includes funding for utilities, including rural electric utilities, to help them evolve into this new era of electric transportation.

Myth: Employees won’t get reimbursed for at home charging

A common advantage of a company car is that many companies cover the cost of fuel. While we are accustomed to such gas cards, many assume that you won’t get such a perk with an electric vehicle while charging at home. However, you can get this in the EV world as well. With today’s connected cars, charging events can be tracked, including home EV charging. Such data can be used to determine the cost of charging that needs to get reimbursed to the employee.

The Comdata® “EV Solution,” for example, uses connected car data to calculate employee reimbursements for at home charging. Such solutions also integrate with on the road charging and workplace charging.

Myth: There are not enough charge points

First of all, let’s remember that most EV charging is done at home, and if you add in workplace charging, a relatively small portion of vehicle charging is done out and about. Gas cars need a lot of gas stations because they can’t refuel at home or at work.

There are currently 48,246 public Level 2 or DC fast charging stations in the USA, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The Biden administration has committed billions of dollars in funding to try to reach 500,000 EV charging stations in the USA by 2030, with a particular focus on equitability and convenience. 

Myth: Public EV charging takes too long

If you’re in a hurry, you need to find the right charger offering fast charging speeds. You can search online for active charge points near you, and indicated speeds, and even pay for that charging on just about any network using a Comdata® Mastercard or another type of accepted payment. 

Conclusion

At the start, managing an EV fleet can seem confusing but once you’re up and running it can be surprisingly simple if you plan accordingly. Comdata® can help make the transition to EVs easier, from providing the data to manage EVs as part of your fleet, to offering payment solutions for EV charging transactions, and providing the data to reimburse employees for at home charging.

This article is supported by Comdata®.

 
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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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