There’s no shortage of myths about electric cars. Some drivers will tell anyone who’ll listen that they are no faster than a milk float, so you’ll arrive everywhere late. Others warn that the batteries will stop charging after a handful of years, and cost your life’s savings to replace. A few even claim that they can’t be cleaned at an automated car wash, or you’ll end up with your hair standing on end.
As amusing as it can be to those in the know, it’s unhelpful, ill-informed nonsense for anyone choosing what sort of car to buy next.
The truth is the number of drivers giving up petrol or diesel and switching to an electric or plug-in hybrid car is growing day by day. In the first half of 2018, a new model was sold every nine minutes in the UK, according to Go Low Ultra, an initiative between the government and select car manufacturers to promote sales of low-emission vehicles.
That’s 28,000 new models, and a 25 per cent increase over the same period last year. It is being accelerated by the growth in choice of plug-in hybrid and battery-powered cars. Today, thanks to the likes of Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes, it’s possible to buy a luxury electric SUV without a big diesel or petrol engine – something that would have been impossible just five years ago.
Drivers don’t have to blow the budget on a luxury model, though. Affordable electric cars are ready and waiting in the showrooms of BMW, Kia, Nissan, Renault, Smart and Volkswagen. More are in the pipeline.
Yet still the myths persist. Here are 10 that any sensible driver would be wise to laugh off.
Myth #1: None of the premium brands I like makes an electric car
Unless you refuse to drive anything other than a Bentley, Bugatti or Rolls-Royce, you’ll find that there is a wide choice of electric cars from some of the most desirable brands on the road. Tesla has proved there’s demand for premium electric cars, and Jaguar is the first mass-market manufacturer to follow in its slipstream, with the new I-Pace. The latter is a stylish family SUV that costs from £63,000 and can be driven 290 miles between charges.
Audi’s new e-tron is available to order now. About the size of an Audi Q5, it’s a stylish SUV that costs around £60,000 and can travel upto 250 miles on a single charge. BMW and Mercedes are matching it, with the iX3 and EQ C respectively. Volvo is soon to launch an electric version of its acclaimed XC40 compact SUV. Aston Martin has the RapidE, Porsche the new Taycan and Polestar – a spin-off from Volvo – has new models arriving from next year. That’s just a small flavor of the ever-widening choice in electrically powered cars.
Myth #2: They’re barely any faster or luxurious than a milk float
Seriously? Where have you been? The most powerful electric family car from Tesla can accelerate from standstill to 62mph as quickly as the £2.5m Bugatti Chiron. Jaguar’s I-Pace is faster than a Porsche 911 over the same measurement.
Even the more affordable electric cars offer spirited performance. A standard BMW i3 can outrun (just) a similarly priced BMW 320d M Sport; the popular Nissan Leaf leaves the higher powered, 1.6-litre diesel version of the Qashqai SUV standing.
As for creature comforts, they’re no different to any model in showrooms. An electric Golf is as classy as any other Golf; BMW’s i3 offers Scandi-chic vibes; the I-Pace is packed with touchscreen technology that will impress nosy parents on the school run.
Myth #3: You’ll run out of charge if you need to drive more than 100 miles
New electric cars that are unable to travel further than 100 miles are few and far between these days. Increasingly, the industry is pushing toward a driving range of between 250 miles and 300 miles for premium EVs, and between 150 and 200 miles for more affordable models. And remember, whenever you’re out and about and need to top up with charge, you car’s navigation will direct you to the nearest suitable charging station.
Myth #4: The cost of running an EV is more than a diesel or petrol
Compare an electric car with a petrol or diesel model that offers similar levels of performance and equipment and you’ll find there’s not much difference in showroom price, especially once the government’s plug-in car grant of £4500 is applied.
More significantly, electric cars cost significantly less to charge and drive than combustion-powered cars. For example, Go Low Ultra calculates that the Volkswagen e-Golf, which costs just under £33,000, costs £5.04 to fully charge, which will give a driving range of 186 miles. That’s equivalent to 2.7 pence per mile. The average petrol or diesel is about 12p, or more than £22 to drive the same distance. Use the home charging calculator at Go Low Ultra to get an idea of running costs.
Myth #5: Charging an electric car is too slow and takes too long
The time it takes to charge an electric car depends on the performance of the charging unit and capacity of a car’s battery. So if you were to use a 7kW wallcharger at home (drivers can apply for a grant toward its installation), for the VW e-Golf, it would take just over five hours to fully charge. Most drivers will do this at night, while sleeping – which is even more convenient than stopping at a petrol station and queuing at the tills for the small army of drivers who have taken the opportunity to buy that night’s dinner on the way home.
However, plug the electric Golf into a rapid charger with a 50kWh speed, at a motorway services for example, and within 30 minutes the battery will be 80% charged (from empty).
Myth #6: If I charge it from solar panels the electricity will go waste
Many homeowners would like to invest in renewable energy for their home, often by fitting solar panels. But they are concerned that if they plug their electric car in at night, there will be precious little boost to the battery. However, those days are over. Now the likes of Nissan and Tesla will fit batteries to homes, which store energy for use when required, typically during evenings. Nissan calls its system xStorage, Tesla has the Powerwall. Other car makers are expected to follow in their tyre tracks, as electric cars become commonplace.
Myth #7: Driving an electric car is duller than watching paint dry
After reviewing new cars for 25 years, take it from me that electric cars are anything but boring to drive. They can be more interesting, as they encourage a new way of driving that promotes efficiency and rewards a smooth, relaxed driving style, backed by a wealth of revealing information from the car’s onboard computers or an accompanying app.