By Celia Kosinski and George Moss
Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way since their comeback in the 1990’s, with ongoing improvements to technology and manufacturing processes, along with increasing numbers of EV models. As with any new technology, there is excitement and opportunity – as well as a fair degree of misunderstanding.
Established industries that benefit from petroleum consumption have fought to disseminate harmful EV myths, driving many to unknowingly spread false information and uncertainty about this new technology. It’s to set the record straight, present the facts, and embrace the many benefits of EVs.
Myth 1: EVs cost more than ICEVs, and are just toys for the rich
Busted! EVs do not cost more than ICE vehicles on total cost of ownership (TCO) basis, and they are expected to reach purchase-price parity within the next few years.
Although upfront costs are currently higher for EVs than for vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs), lifetime costs for consumer EVs are typically lower for two reasons: maintenance costs and fuel costs. A Consumer Report shows that EVs need less maintenance because of their fewer moving parts, and they have a total cost of ownership lower than ICEV, highlighting that maintenance and repairs for EVs cost half as much as those of ICE vehicles. Fewer moving parts also results in a lower incidence of a part breaking. And less heat from operations decreases the wear and tear from high heat exposure. A separate report also found that EVs cut maintenance costs by 50%.
(Total cost of ownership for model-year 2020 vehicles by year of purchase parity between 2020 and 2030. Report from International Council on Clean Transportation)
EVs benefit all segments of the population and will save drivers money based on their vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandates in multiple states are increasing accessibility of EVs, and there are more options and choices across price and vehicle segments than ever before. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s E-gallon calculator, electricity is a cheaper fuel than gasoline, even when gasoline prices are historically low. Furthermore, the United States spends about $81 billion in taxpayer money each year to protect global oil supply and trade. Gasoline prices are more volatile than electricity because the lion’s share of crude oil reserves are held by OPEC members or state oil companies that do not share U.S. values or economic interests.
Currently, the upfront purchase cost of an EV can be more expensive than that of a comparable ICE car, but this is expected to change soon; by 2025, purchase price parity between EVs and ICEVs will be achieved across vehicle types. And there are tax credits and rebates offered at various levels of government that help to offset higher purchase prices during the early stages of EV market development and adoption. A full list of federal and state incentives can be found here.
Myth 2: EVs’ short ranges make them unsuitable to replace ICE vehicles
Busted! “Range anxiety” is due to lack of education, and battery range in electric vehicle is increasing.
Range anxiety refers to the fear of being stranded without the ability to easily refuel your car. While it is possible to experience range anxiety in both ICEV and EVs, the anxiety for prospective EV owners is due to a knowledge gap on charging infrastructure. The anxiety is, fortunately, not grounded in truth. Currently, the range offered by all EVs on the market far exceeds average round-trip mileage.
Anxiety over lack of charger availability also serves as a barrier to purchasing an EV. These concerns may have been justified in earlier EV models, but significant improvements in vehicles and charging infrastructure development having occurred since. With advancements in battery technology, and a growing number of more than 55,000 public EV charging stations across the U.S., range limitations will be far less of an issue for EVs moving forward.
(Report from CleanTechnica: EVs Battery Range Increase by year)
Range anxiety ties into another common falsehood: EV ownership eliminates the possibility of road trips.
Busted! Road trips are equally as possible in an EV as they are in an ICEV, and may even be more convenient. Using an EV today, you will still need to plan accordingly by mapping out a route along access to chargers, similar to that of an ICEV and gas stations. To help plan your route, PlugShare has produced a map with all locations of charging stations across America; it also includes a Trip Planner option.
Myth 3: EVs will put automobile technicians out of business and undermine American auto manufacturers
Busted! EVs will require a set of specialized technician skills, driving job growth.
EVs will continue to require some capacity of maintenance through their life span, but generally significantly less than the average ICEV. Like any improving technology, there will be new methods and practices to be learned, and even existing EV technicians will require advanced skill development.
It is not truthful to say that auto technicians will go out of business. EVs will just require a different skill set from a technician. Building the engine of an ICE vehicle is the most labor-intensive part of building a car; building an EV requires about 30% less labor than building a traditional ICEV vehicle. But EVs will still require assembly and maintenance. Charging infrastructure will require separate installation, services, upgrades, and troubleshooting, amplifying job opportunities, and local and regional economic development.
With such a significant shift in the auto industry, there is an inevitable adaptation that must occur throughout the supply and service chain to accommodate EVs, but this process is already well underway. Today’s vehicles rely heavily on computer technology, which means the necessary automotive skillset has already shifted from being purely mechanical to include electronic and computer skills. This shift has placed new emphasis on technicians trained to be successful in the manufacturing and servicing of EVs. Many technical colleges have begun to offer courses in EV training, along with auto manufacturers that are offering educational programs specifically for electric vehicle technicians. Electrification Coalition Business Council members GM, Ford, and Nissan have EV-certified tech programs that specialize in EV-specific maintenance. Tesla offers an intensive training program called START, which is designed as an EV technician course with a focused career transition.
With the onset of the EV future, many still wonder how well American auto manufacturers and their supply chains will adapt. Since the beginning of 2021, we have seen more American auto manufacturers commit to EV goals, and action from the Biden administration to invest in EVs, along with $55 billion in new U.S. private investments, impelling American car companies to announce their plans to follow suit in making EV adoption a priority.
The Biden Administration has also announced plans for stricter use of American-made parts in government-purchased vehicles. With the focus on EVs and American-made materials and manufacturers, the demand for EVs will also promote job growth in the U.S.
(S & P Global: Biden’s proposed American Jobs plan key investments)