5 things you may not know about electric cars

Two years ago, we wrote about the five biggest reasons why you need to swap your petrol or diesel car for an electric one. We still stand by them, but the industry has come a long way since then. Whereas only carmakers and startups who were early adopters dominated the EV sphere at the time, traditional auto manufacturers have now given in to the EV market as well. Despite every one of them announcing plans to electrify their fleets in the next ten years, there are still a lot of misconceptions about EVs floating above our heads. So, allow me to take you through the most important things that you should know about electric cars today, because—let’s be honest—it’s time to get rid of this “fake news” once and for all.

#1 Electric cars are more cost-effective over the long run

Sure, electric cars have a heftier initial price tag than petrol and diesel cars. But electric cars are much more cost-effective over time when you consider the elimination of fuel costs and maintenance services, along with money back from your electric car tax breaks and incentives.

A group of researchers from the University of Leeds tracked the Total Costs of Ownership of low-emissions vehicles between 1997 and 2015 in Japan, the UK, California, and Texas. When comparing results from the year of 2015, fuel costs and subsidies in all four regions were high enough that fully electric cars were cheaper overall than petrol and diesel vehicles.

What makes electric cars so expensive is the cost of their battery. Yet in recent years, these costs have been falling drastically. As reported by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, electric vehicle batteries were valued at $273/kWh in 2016, which is a steep fall compared to the price of $1,000/kWh back in 2010. In the next five years, electric cars will meet the retail price of their ICE counterparts.

#2 More and more electric car models are rolling out every year

This year alone, the number of electric vehicles on the roads is expected to increase from three to five million. 2018 is also an important year for this industry, as a dozen new fully electric car models are expected to be released. As if this isn’t enough, 60 more new models (both PHEVs and BEVs) are coming to market in the next five years, many with a real-life range of over 500 km (300 miles).

#3 Your country (still) offers incentives for your electric car

We get it, all you’re looking for in a car is a nice price-quality balance. That’s why financial incentives and tax credits have always been essential for people to make the switch from ICE to electric. They’re crucial in making any electric car price-competitive with ICE vehicles.

In the US, you’re eligible for up to $17,500 in rebates and tax incentives if you buy that electric car today. In the wake of the Paris Agreement, it’s also become pretty obvious that Europe’s EV market does not just evolve around its frontrunners of electric mobility (Norway and The Netherlands) anymore. Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK are all catching up on incentives to promote clean cars that’ll help them reach those stricter emission standards.

#4 No more gas stops, just coffee breaks

With an electric car, you no longer need to drive up to a gas station; instead, the “fuel” will just come to you. See, most of the charging happens at home and at work. In the US, you’ll install a so-called Level 2 charging station. In Europe, you’ll need to install a 1-phase or 3-phase charging station (depending on the capacity of your home). With a station like this right on your driveway or in your apartment’s shared parking lot, you’ll always hit the road fully charged.

The same goes for your office. You plug in your car there to charge while you work so you can drive home comfortably at the end of the day.

And to make sure electric vehicle drivers never run out of juice (and for those who don’t have access to home and work charging), many cities are building and expanding their public charging infrastructure. Restaurants, hotels, malls, grocery stores, and public parking lots all play a crucial part in this expansion.

Still can’t get rid of that fear of being stranded with an empty battery? According to the Joint Research Centre (European Commission’s in-house science service), more than 80% of European car owners drive less than 65 km per day. In the US, the average person drives 37 miles a day (59.5 km). In this case, even the smallest electric car battery that’s only half-charged will still be able to get you where you need to go.

#5 Your electric car becomes part of your home

This Hyundai vision may still look like sci-fi now, but much of it is actually already in practice today. Think Tesla and its Powerwall. By installing a storage battery at home, you can capture the power that’s generated from solar panels on your rooftop and distribute it across the home and to your charging station when needed. You can even use your charging station to power up the house and store excess energy in the storage battery. The idea is to create that perfect triangle of sustainable energy by merging the capabilities of your home, your electric car, and your charging station.

It’s quite exciting, this new world.

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