Electric car companies are everywhere these days. The news, your favorite blogs, your rich neighbors garage, you name it. However, electric cars are nothing new. They’ve been around for decades (someone fact check me). Only recently have big names like Tesla started to make themselves known to the average motorist.
Let’s explore a few reasons electric cars are such a mystery to the common driver, and how companies are changing the game.
Range anxiety plays a major role in switching from gasoline to electric.
When most people think of electric cars, the first thing they think about is “well how far does it go?”
This can be problematic for multiple reasons.
First, just because a car only goes 100 km on a charge (A conservative number) doesn’t mean it won’t suit your needs. Yes, road trips will be a pain. Impossible for some people even. But for a daily commute, 100 km is plenty.
Think of it this way.
You drive 25 km to work every day. That’s a round trip of 50 km. Say you stop at the grocery store on your way home. Another 25 km. You get home with 25 km left in the “tank” (battery) and charge up over night. The next day, you start with another 100 km without ever having to stop for gas. Not bad, right?
For people who commute a significant distance though, say 110 km, (what a fun drive that is every morning) a 100 km battery just won’t cut it. At that point, even a car with 300 km of range is going to feel like a walking a tightrope just to get home without dying on the side of the road.
In this sense, range anxiety isn’t just an irrational fear; It’s a legitimate reason for sticking with gasoline powered cars.
Good electric cars are notoriously expensive. Think Tesla’s Model S sedan, starting at $79,990 USD.
In the past, if you wanted an EV (electric car) with substantial range, you had to shell out the big bucks. Even then, you might be getting half the distance on a single charge than you could get with a gasoline powered car of roughly the same size and class.
In recent years companies like Tesla have made leaps and strides with their battery technology, meaning that the same model of car from several years ago now has a shinier, fancier younger sibling. This newer version of course has bigger batteries and better systems for maintaining optimum battery efficiency. Now instead of 300 km, you could be getting 595 km.
This all seems swell, more range and whatnot. But that doesn’t stop us from acknowledging the huge elephant made of cash in the room. The issue that we are not, in fact, made of money, like said elephant.
You read that right, just like your parents said all those times you wanted a new toy or a shiny bike. Turns out they were right.
Companies are starting to release more affordable vehicles geared towards the average driver.
Popular names like Chevy and Nissan have released relatively good and cheap cars in the past. They never hit the level of luxury or the raw battery power that Tesla has managed to reach, but they solved a different problem in the industry far sooner than other electric vehicle centric companies.
Making affordable, functional, practical electric cars for the average drive, who just wants to shrink their carbon footprint and save a bit on fuel. Without spending a small fortune, of course.
For a time these car makers filled the desire in the market for affordable EV’s. They never quite managed to break the mold that the gasoline counterparts left however. Enter the Model 3.
Tesla released the Model 3 mid-2017 as an entry-level consumer vehicle, geared towards making the driving experience seamless and as enjoyable as possible. They did not, however, make it a whole lot cheaper.
Starting at $38,990 USD with a beginning range of 386 km, the Model 3 nicely filled the void of good cars with decent range without completely breaking the bank. Just a few cracks in mr.piggy.
For a lot of people this is still a tad pricey for a sedan. I was dead set on buying one, but turns out I couldn’t afford one either.
People that can afford it claim it’s one of the best cars they’ve ever driven. ever. The Tesla fanboys are strong with this one, and it’s nothing short of a total shocker.
Public chargers are becoming more plentiful. This means faster charging available to more people, and road trips are much more feasible.
The limelight falls back on Tesla and their nationwide supercharger network. Currently Tesla operates 14,497 superchargers across the US and Canada. This makes the task of finding a place to charge much less of a burden.
On top of that, Tesla and other EV’s have incorporated features into their onboard navigation systems. While plotting out your route, your car will add charging stops depending on the estimated battery life you’ll have when you travel a certain distance.
While stopping to charge may still seem like a stupid idea to some people, considering your stops are usually 30 minutes to an hour, think of it like this. Each time you stop to charge, you can take that time to do something you’d normally do when stopping on a road trip. Head to the washroom, grab a snack, stretch your legs. You’ll be stopping between every one or two hours, which is the average time people tend to drive before taking a break anyways.
Personally, on my four to five hour road trips, I usually stop once or twice. If I drove an electric car I would most likely stop one extra time, and for a few extra minutes each stop.
Yes, it would add more time to any road trip. But enough to complain about? Not really.
I would gladly take an extra hour charging on a road trip if it meant I never had to stop for gas on my daily commutes. Just drive home and plug in.
More names are jumping out of the shadows and into the spotlight to showcase their latest electric vehicle technology.
Newer players like Rivian and old favorites such as Honda are getting into the electric car game. With all these new car makers crawling out of the woodwork, it can be hard to keep track. Luckily for you, most of them haven’t entered production phases of their next line of EV’s. Meaning you still have time to do your own research and decide if switching to electric is right for you.
Electric cars have actually garnered so much interest from the media that many podcasts or youtube shows have been born from the fascination of EV’s. One of those is Fully Charged, a fantastic electric vehicle channel focused on EV’s, new names coming to market, the latest in battery technology, and a splash of green energy like solar, wind, and battery backup systems.
Feel like minimizing your carbon footprint? Tired of paying for gas? Want to find out if switching to an EV is right for you? Check out this article from consumer reports. It’s a more comprehensive guide for what to consider when buying an EV.
Final thoughts: Why should you care?
If you still don’t get the fascination with EV’s, consider this.
EV’s require less maintenance. No more routine oil changes.
You’ll never have to stop for gas, just to charge up on trips longer than the range of your battery.
You can always buy a hybrid vehicle, using the battery on commutes and breaking out the fossil fuels for those extended trips.
You’ll be driving a zero-emissions vehicle if you opt for a fully electric car. If the grid you’re getting power from uses renewable sources of electricity, congratulations, you’re driving a completely green powered car.
And last but most certainly not least… electric motors have got torque. Like, crazy torque. Acceleration in an performance EV is the fastest, smoothest experience you’ll ever have. When I say performance I’m not indicating sports-car class. Cheaper electric cars focused on compactness and efficiency won’t get the same oomph as a sedan sized dual motor vehicle like the Model 3. But the average consumer EV has a higher 0–100 km time than the average gasoline powered car I would wager.
If you’re still on the fence I highly recommend Fully Charged. Not only are they informative, but the cinematography is phenomenal and the narration is quite enjoyable.
Just a clarification, I’m by no means an expert. This was an opinion piece focused on bringing to light the interesting qualities of electric cars with readers who may not be as familiar with them. I don’t even drive an EV, so I can’t really say first hand what my experiences are.
But let’s be honest, that Tesla Model 3 is something else.
Evan Robertson is a full time college student who spends his free time writing about whatever falls into his mind while tapping away at the keys of his laptop. One day he hopes to own a modular home. Powered primarily by solar and battery back-ups, drive an electric SUV, and have a family of questionable size. Find more stories here.