Advantages And Disadvantages Of Electric Cars
Switching To Electric
Many drivers with petrol and diesel vehicles will see their motor tax increase in 2021. Drivers looking to save money may look towards electric vehicles. But what are the advantages and disadvantages with electric vehicles. Read on to find out all the pros and cons of buying an electric car, as well as the grants that are available.
What are the advantages of electric cars?
Cheaper running costs
Despite electric cars costing more than their fossil-fuel equivalents, they’re actually cheaper to run on a day-to-day basis. Road tax for electric vehicles is at the lowest rate of €120 per year. You will also pay a reduced Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT).
Finally, it could be cheaper to charge your electric car too. We’ve previously found that you could charge your electric car at home for around €3.96 (this was for an electric car with a battery size of 40 kWh and at a cost of 9.91 cents per kWh of electricity). If you drive around 20,000 km per year, you could be looking at a monthly cost of €24.40 per month.
The world’s carbon emissions are at an all time high and are contributing to global warming. The main cause of carbon creation in Ireland is the burning of fossil fuels, such as in our cars (combustion engines) and homes (gas boilers).
While the electricity that is used to charge electric cars is created through the burning of fossil fuels, it’s still thought that these vehicles release 30 per cent fewer emissions. When electricity is created through renewable sources, this increases to 70 per cent. The engines themselves don’t produce any tailpipe emissions, which can help to improve pollution and air quality in cities and built-up areas.
Fewer moving parts
There is a lot that can go wrong with a petrol or diesel car. These combustion engines contain lots of moving parts, which increases the likelihood of something breaking, becoming damaged or being worn down. Electric engines, however, are much simpler pieces of technology with fewer moving parts, meaning that you could rarely find yourself at the local garage having an issue repaired. This also means that the lifespan of an electric car could be longer than that of a petrol or diesel car too.
As a rule, electric cars do not have gears. Entirely electric vehicles use electric motors and therefore do not need a clutch or gearbox in order to control the speed of the engine revs. In this respect, switching from a conventional fossil fuel-powered car with a manual gearbox to a modern electric vehicle does require a certain degree of adjustment.
Instead of a clutch and gear stick or gear-changing paddles, electric cars tend to simply have an easy-to-use switch or button which allows you to put the car in drive, reverse, neutral or parked. This aspect of an electric car works in the same way as many modern day automatics.
Is there a grant for electric cars?
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offers grants of up to €5,000 on qualifying electric vehicles. The grant amount that you can claim will depend on the value of the electric car that you buy, however you will be guaranteed something as long as the car costs more than €14,000.
Not only this, but they can also provide money off the cost of a charging point too. Electric vehicle charging points cost around €1,099, and SEAI can give up to €600 off, meaning the installation will cost you just €499, a substantial saving.
What are the disadvantages of electric cars?
As with any pieces of technology, there are some disadvantages to electric cars as well.
Increased initial purchase price
We’ve already briefly mentioned this above, however, it’s something you should seriously consider before purchasing an electric vehicle. Despite running costs being cheaper, electric cars are more expensive than fossil fuel cars, mainly due to the cost of the battery. You will, however, save money in tax, fuel and possibly insurance. The grant mentioned above will also help you to pay for your electric car.
As electric cars rely on a battery to store their charge, there’s only so many kilometres an electric vehicle can go before needing to be recharged. The battery size is limited, as it needs to be able to fit within the general surface area of the vehicle while also not weighing it down too much. For this reason, electric cars typically cannot travel as far as a petrol or diesel car, and you may find that you need to stop more frequently to recharge.
How far do electric cars go?
The typical range for an electric car is between 100 and 500km. Only high-end models can reach the top end of the spectrum, such as Tesla Model S and Jaguar I-Pace. For an average electric car, such as a Nissan Leaf, you’d expect a range of 150km.g
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CHARGE AN ELECTRIC CAR?
How long it takes to charge an electric car depends on the vehicle’s battery size (the bigger the battery, the longer the charge time) as well as the speed of the charger. Chargers come in three different speeds: low power, semi-fast and fast. Low-power chargers are generally found in homes, and your car could take over 12 hours to charge on one of these. Semi-fast chargers are usually located in car parks, such as at the supermarket, so you can plug it in for a quick boost while you shop. A car will take around two to four hours to charge on one of these. The very fast or ‘rapid’ chargers are found mostly at motorway service stations for when you need a very quick charge to get you back on the road. These are very powerful and can often charge your car to 80 percent in under half an hour.
As you can see, there are a number of pros and cons that you should think about when switching to electric. Generally, the pros will outweigh the cons if you’re happy to wait a little longer for your vehicle to charge and charge it more often. After all, according to SEAI, 80 per cent of car journeys in Ireland are 20km or less, so an electric car would be more than sufficient for your travelling needs.
HOW DO ELECTRIC CARS HELP THE ENVIRONMENT?
As has been reiterated to us all many times, burning fossil fuels, including natural gas in a combustion engine and coal in a power station, produces a lot of carbon dioxide. This greenhouse gas is thought to be the primary cause of climate change, which is increasing the temperature of our earth. Acidity of the sea is also increasing, which in turn has an effect on the creatures that live in it. Of the 30 billion tonnes of CO2 that are produced each year, most of this comes from burning fossil fuels to provide us with electricity. The majority of Ireland’s electricity is generated through burning fossil fuels and only around 20 per cent is created through renewable sources.
It’s worth clarifying that EVs aren’t ‘good’ for the environment - they cannot actively remove CO2 or clean up the environment. So with this in mind, how exactly are electric cars more environmentally friendly?
Well, EVs create almost no exhaust emissions and this could significantly reduce air pollution, particularly in major towns and cities where there are lots of vehicles. But this doesn’t mean that EVs are completely emission-free. The electricity that is used to charge the battery to power the vehicle is usually generated by burning fossil fuels. So although the car itself isn’t producing emissions, the electricity that powers it is. Clearly, this wouldn’t be a problem if the electricity that the car was using was generated via renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, but this is rarely the case.
Charging your EV at night, however, could be a way for it to use more renewable energy. Generally, energy consumption is lower at night but the electricity generated through wind power increases. This means that when you charge your electric car at night, you could be using more renewable energy than if you charged the car during the day, so this is something to keep in mind.
While Ireland is attempting to create electricity in a more eco-friendly way, by taking the decision to stop investing in fossil fuels, for example, we’re still a long way from powering a vehicle using only renewable energy. However, that being said, it is still worth remembering that the CO2 emissions from an electric car (including the emissions from electricity generation) are still significantly lower than those from a petrol vehicle.
A typical electric vehicle will produce around 60 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) whereas a petrol engine will be over double this at around 130g/km. So if everyone in Ireland chose to drive an electric car rather than a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle, the production of CO2 from our vehicles could halve. Nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides are the other greenhouse gases produced from combustion engines, but not by EVs, creating another reason to make the switch.
We hope you found this blog interesting. You might be interested in reading other EV related posts: