Going Back to the Future, on a Single Charge


What’s stopping you from taking the plunge and buying an electric car? There’s a lot of debate out there, no question. The Electric Vehicule or "EV" is still not a slam dunk, but we’re getting there. Sales have only gone up over the last 20 years, when the battery-powered vehicle came back. The electric vehicle was actually invented back in the 1800s and made up almost 40% of cars on the road (the other 60% was a mix of gas & steam). Looking back, you think to yourself : 'whaaaaaat?'. But really, it makes perfect sense. Once the electric starter showed up and with the price of gas so low, having a vehicle that costs you less and takes you 100s of miles without stopping to charge I mean, come on. What would you do? Besides, back then no one was aware of the environmental impact. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves.

So now we’ve lived the good life for 100 years. The inconveniences of an electric vehicle still exist, but we are in a different place than we used to be. After having gotten used to a certain way of life, we need to understand what the deal is and what we’re getting into.

Battery Life – We’re not Going to Make it!

This is the primary concern for people considering making the switch. Questions need to be clarified before drinking the Kool-Aid. What will this car be used for, a regular commute or long road trips? Do you own a house or rent an apartment? Do you live in the city where there are multiple charging stations, or in a rural area? Do you live in a country with a colder climate?

All these questions are important and will certainly impact performance, but the innovations that have been made in EV have made them accessible to just about everyone. When electric cars were first reintroduced, they had an average battery life of 60 miles or 96 kms per charge. Today, it is difficult to find a model that offers less than 100 miles/160 kms and with the amount of options out there, depending on budget, the sky’s the limit!

The battery has been the prime focus for most EV manufacturers, as it is generally the deal-breaker for consumers. In the 90s, Lithium ion batteries were introduced to the market allowing the driver to go the distance. Now, 20 years have passed and the cost of these batteries have dropped as new players enter the field. With options increasing, there aren’t a lot of auto manufacturers that haven’t gotten in the game. For this reason, OEMs are investing heavily in test for overall optimization. In this growing market they need to offer the best, particularly when consumers are looking at the technology so closely.

Is it Really Worth It – Understanding the Investment

Aren’t I spending what I saved in gasoline on my new electric bill?

First, there are models out there that don’t mean spending more on the car itself, particularly with most countries offering incentives to go electric. But sure, an EV may have a higher price-point than other options.

And second...nope! With gas prices being what they are, the amount that your electricity bill will increase is nowhere near what it costs to fill up your tank each week. Over time, the savings you will see are significant, that is proven.

The question that follows is back to the battery. It is the heart of the car. It is also the most expensive component… how long before it needs to be replaced? Well, the answer is never the same. Again, it goes back to understanding how the car will be used, but on average, 100,000 miles or 160,000 kms is a good estimate. Today, it could cost up to $10,000 for a new battery. If this is still the case 10 years from now, someone took that left turn in Albuquerque.

The End of Road Tripping

No man, you be tripping. For the most part it is important to think about your daily commute and determine if you can get where you’re going without the need to charge. Long road trips aren’t common for everyone on a regular basis, but it’s nice to know they can be done. Rest assured, they can.

Every year, countries, automakers and even hotels are investing in more charging stations. Cities have made several accommodations for electric vehicle drivers including reserved parking for EVs and it is rare to hit a long stretch of highway without a charger along the way. In 2018 the US added 43,000 chargers while China already had 190,000 with plans to expand to 800K. By no means are charging stations as accessible as gas stations, but they are present and growing.

And it will add time to the trip. This is for sure, so be ready for that. There are different levels of charging from level 1 to level 3. Level 1 takes 8 hours for a full charge, whereas level 3 takes 30 minutes to get over 85%. Several apps now exist to be able to plan your trip ahead and determine what types of chargers are available and how far away they are. Check out PlugShare or ChargeHub to get an overview on what a road trip could look like.

What Difference does it Make?

Environmentally speaking…a lot. But like everything else, it varies depending on who’s using it. EVs generally have lower operating and maintenance costs, which reduces their overall environmental footprint (and your bills) but the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will vary depending on the power source to charge the car and how efficiently it’s being done. If renewable energy is being used, it has more of an impact than say, burning coal.

At this point, it really is just common sense. If you take more gas guzzlers off the road, less gas will be guzzled. The more people who do this, the bigger the difference will be. Between automakers, governments and assorted institutions all putting skin in the game by investing in quality and accessibility, the reasons not to go electric are becoming fewer and fewer. Change won’t happen without people deciding to change. Now, it’s on us.

To speak with an expert regarding automotive testing, please contact Averna.