While there are many great things about owning an electric car, there are also just as many drawbacks. Electric cars have been available in hybrid or plug-in form for many years now. The sales of these types of vehicles keep going up every year. Many people see the value in this type of car, but there definitely are some big drawbacks as well.
Here are the biggest electric car drawbacks –
Running out of juice
The biggest of all the problems with electric cars is getting stranded. If you run out of gasoline or diesel fuel, you can go and get more in a plastic gas can. You can’t just go pick up a couple volts of electricity in a jug. If you have a 100% electric car and it depletes its charge, you’re pretty much stuck. Your options are limited to having the vehicle towed, replacing the batteries with charged ones, or somehow charging it in place. Charging it in place is usually not an option. Most often, these cars have a special charger that requires more power than you would have available on a roadside. A normal extension cord usually won’t help.
Electric car range has been a problem since the beginning. This continues to be a big sticking point for drivers with long commutes. For years, electric cars had a range of less than 100 miles per charge. Much of this has changed for the better with the new battery technologies that are available.
The biggest leap in battery range came from the Tesla car company. Their initial battery packs were nothing more than a series of cellular phone batteries strung together. The technology in mobile phone batteries was more advanced than the lead acid car batteries everyone else was using. This gave Tesla a huge range advantage. They basically double the range of the electric car just by using a better battery. Most auto manufacturers have since adopted similar technology to be competitive.
The range of an electric vehicle is also dramatically influenced by the outside air temperature and the speed you are driving. If the outside temperature is very cold your range will be less than it would be at say 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The faster you drive the less range you have as well. Recently there were headlines made by a man who drove a Tesla model S about twice as far as its stated range. I believe it was over 400 miles. He accomplished this by driving the car at a constant 25MPH.
Electric cars take more time to refuel than liquid fueled cars do. There’s just no way (as of yet) to force energy into batteries as fast as you can pour liquid fuel into a tank. Some chargers are better than others, but it takes a minimum of hours, not minutes, to refuel an electric car. There are different charging technologies that can use a faster or slower charging rate, but none of these systems will ever be as fast as pouring gasoline.
One of the ways you can avoid the charging problem is to have two sets of batteries. On some models of electric vehicles you can easily switch out the battery pack. This allows you to have a battery pack that is on the charger at all times while you are using the one in the vehicle. If batteries are used this way, you will never have to wait for a charge.
Special equipment and wiring
Electric car chargers are specific to the vehicle and need special installation. There is not yet a standard charger for all electric vehicles. The charger for a Chevy Volt is not the same charger as the one for a Nissan Leaf, or a Tesla model S. All of these chargers have different charge rates and are designed for different batteries. Tesla, for example, offers a couple different charging options depending on how much power you have available at your house. If you have electricians come in and wire your house and charger to run on higher voltage, you can charge the vehicle faster. If you use only a single 120V 15A circuit, your vehicle will charge much more slowly. Obviously, an internal combustion engine requires none of these considerations.
If your electricity goes out, so does your transportation
One thing that many people don’t normally consider when thinking about electric car drawbacks is that a power outage means your car can’t be refueled. In some parts of the country, power outages during storms are uncommon. In some particularly bad snow storms, the power has been known to go out for days. This is also the case with tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. No house electricity means you can only drive as far as you have on your batteries and then you’re done.
While there are electric car drawbacks to consider, there are still many advantages to them as well. The technology is continually improving. In the not-too-distant future, we may very well see more electric cars on the road than other vehicles.