In recent years, an electric vehicle has become very popular. When the fact that it should help reduce CO2 emissions and help slow down climate change, it would seem like the obvious choice when it comes to transportation going forward.
Just like everything in life, it is not that simple. Before we address with downsides of owning an electric vehicle, let’s first visit all the reasons people buy one.
Reasons people buy an electric vehicle
EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions, reducing air pollution and combating climate change. They contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, especially when powered by renewable energy sources.
Many governments offer incentives to promote the adoption of EVs. These incentives include tax credits, rebates, and subsidies for purchasing EVs, installing charging infrastructure, or using renewable energy sources.
Electric motors provide instant torque, resulting in swift acceleration and a smoother driving experience. EVs can offer a quieter and more responsive ride compared to traditional vehicles.
Reduced reliance on fossil fuels
With the global push to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, EVs offer an alternative that can be powered by renewable energy sources, reducing the overall reliance on non-renewable resources.
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Downsides of owning an electric vehicle
Now that we have seen all the reasons people are encouraged to buy EVs, let us look at some important issues that you need to consider before buying one.
Manufacturing: EVs vs ICEs
The production of electric vehicles (EVs) typically results in higher initial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared to the manufacturing of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs).
This is primarily due to the manufacturing process of EV batteries, which is more energy-intensive and involves the extraction and processing of materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel, as well as the energy-intensive process of producing the battery cells.
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Thermal runaway in batteries, including those used in electric vehicles, is considered a more significant risk in hot climates. Thermal runaway is a chain reaction within a battery that causes it to overheat, potentially leading to fire or explosion.
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High temperatures can exacerbate the conditions leading to thermal runaway for several reasons:
In hot climates, ambient temperatures can rise to levels that contribute to the internal heating of the battery. When a battery operates or charges in a high-temperature environment, it can increase the internal temperature, pushing it closer to the point where thermal runaway might occur.
Reduced cooling efficiency
Batteries rely on efficient cooling systems to maintain an optimal temperature range. In hot climates, cooling systems might struggle to dissipate heat effectively, potentially leading to overheating and thermal instability.
High temperatures can accelerate chemical reactions within the battery, which can contribute to the breakdown of the internal components and increase the likelihood of thermal runaway.
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Reduced battery lifespan
Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can degrade the overall health and lifespan of the battery, potentially making it more susceptible to thermal runaway.
Sixty percent of electric vehicle battery fire accidents are caused by the thermal runaway of the battery itself, 30% are charging accidents, and only about 3.6% are due to collisions in driving accidents. Source: Electric vehicle battery fires, thermal runaway is the main reason
In a study conducted by US insurer AutoinsuranceEZ, it was revealed that hybrid cars demonstrated the highest incidence of fires, with a rate of 3,474.5 fires per 100,000 sales.
In contrast, petrol cars exhibited a rate of 1,529.9 fires per 100,000 sales, while electric vehicles (EVs) displayed the lowest likelihood of catching fire, with only 25.1 fires per 100,000 sales.
This would give one the impression that EVs are after overall, however, EVs pose some unique risks. If you were to Google, “How long does an EV battery last?”
You would get an answer like this, “Generally, EV car batteries last from 10 to 20 years. Certain factors like heat, cold, or swift charging times can negatively affect that and reduce performance. Manufacturers have already included protective measures like thermal management systems and charging restrictions.”
Firstly, Tesla has not been making cars for 20 years. Secondly, these are performed under laboratory conditions and do not factor in real-world use and road conditions.
With heat waves and droughts occurring more frequently, and EVs entering the used car market in even larger numbers, the odds of this happening are only going to increase year on year.
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