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Electric car pros and cons

Buying a car is a difficult decision. Switching from fuel-combustion engines to electric cars is also a major decision. Since their introduction, electric vehicles have made huge technological strides to improve performance and efficiency. However, some drivers and car buyers are still hesitant to switch from traditional diesel and petrol-powered engines.


Ireland is ready for a full-blown electric car revolution, with improvements in battery ranges, expansion of charging networks and grants to reduce prices. Unfortunately, you will still face multiple obstacles in running a pure electric vehicle. Read on to learn about electric car pros and cons.

What is an electric car?

Internal combustion engines have always taken the lead in powering personal transport. However, the recent announcement regarding a ban on fuel-powered vehicles by 2030 has increased the public's interest in electric vehicles. Strict legislation on emission targets and pollution has made car manufacturers switch to more environmentally friendly power sources. With electricity gaining momentum as a power source for cars, many people now embrace them. Pure electric cars still make up a small percentage of vehicles sold in Ireland, but the uptake is rising steadily. The dramatic rise in plug-in vehicle sales is attributed to the market's increased PHEV options.

Electric car pros and cons explained


Plug-in hybrids feature electric drives and internal combustion engines. While they don't deliver zero emissions like pure electric vehicles, they are useful interim solutions. Some electric vehicles use hydrogen fuel cells to power an electric motor. However, unlike conventional EVs, they are expensive and even fewer refuelling stations are available.


The benefits of electric cars

Engaging drive

Electric cars are fun to drive and highly responsive. The torque available from the electric motor provides the excellent acceleration often offered by sports cars. Instead of a fuel engine, EVs use electric motors that react more quickly, providing additional torque and agility for better driving. You also don't have to worry about switching gears since electric motors don't need to engage gears before starting. The car moves forward and accelerates within seconds after stepping on the accelerator.


Electric vehicles also have regenerative braking, which means you start braking before even stepping on the brake pedal. Regenerative braking doesn't just improve your driving experience; it conserves energy by converting braking energy into electric energy to recharge the battery. Besides efficiency, electric cars are silent and provide a comfortable, relaxing drive.

Most electric manufacturers design electric cars with batteries installed on the vehicle's floor. The lowered centre of gravity improves handling and the ride features. It reduces the discomfort of driving a suspended car with a heavy internal combustion engine. While PHEVs have added weight compared to electric cars, they are almost as refined and engaging to drive as pure electric cars. Since the cars have an electric motor, they are responsive and quieter when powering the vehicle using the battery.


Low maintenance and running costs

Recharging an electric vehicle saves you thousands of pounds in the long run compared to the costs of refuelling petrol and diesel-powered cars. Most EV owners charge their vehicles overnight to ensure they're ready to drive in the morning. When you recharge at night, you will use electricity at a lower unit rate than charging during the day. The price of charging and fuelling at the pump is significantly less for covering the same mileage. When using public charging facilities, electricity tariffs are twice the domestic energy rates, but the cost is still lower than buying petrol or diesel.

When you have a diesel or petrol-powered car, you must go for regular oil changes. The engines also have multiple moving parts that require replacement after some time, including pumps, valves and various fluids. Electric vehicles require minimal maintenances due to fewer components and moving parts. Besides, they last longer due to less wear and tear. Even plug-in hybrids have lower maintenance than conventional cars. For instance, wear & tear on brakes and tyres are reduced due to regenerative braking.

While EV insurance costs are similar to conventional cars, EV drivers are considered lower risks, and you can enjoy slightly reduced premiums. Electric vehicles can also save you from charges associated with carbon emissions.


Ultra-low emissions

Electric vehicles produce ultra-low emissions. While they are zero-emission during use, car manufacturers generate pollutants during production and electricity generation processes. Electric cars minimise pollution from carbon emissions by eliminating exhaust fumes, and the power stations also have ultra-low air pollution. When you use green tariffs or renewable energy like solar to recharge your car, greenhouse gas emissions are non-existent. The reduced carbon footprint is due to the energy efficiency of EVs compared to conventional cars. Regenerative braking returns energy to the battery, improving fuel efficiency.

Electric vehicles have significantly reduced nitrous oxide and particulate pollution. The pollutants are usually emitted from power stations, but the overall impact is low compared to emissions from the exhausts of petrol and diesel cars. When renewable energy is used, the lifecycle regulated emissions for electric vehicles are reduced. While plug-in hybrids have carbon emissions, it is less than conventional cars.


Downsides of electric vehicles


Few charging stations

Charging electric cars is a major challenge. Most car manufacturers offer a three-pin domestic plug that allows you to charge your car at home. Some also offer a complementary fast-charging wallbox, which allows you to charge your car faster by connecting it directly to mains power. The downside is that you need a dedicated place nearby an electrical supply to park the car. Most domestic garages are rarely used for parking cars, while some motorists don't have access to off-street parking options, especially in modern areas. It is also challenging to fit a domestic charging point if you live in a rented apartment.

Though you can find many electric charging stations in cities and urban areas, small towns have few charging points. If you are driving for a long distance, there is no guarantee you will find a charging spot in some areas.


Charging time

When you use conventional cars, it takes a few minutes to fuel your vehicle at the pump and continue your journey. You won't have that luxury with electric vehicles. The fastest charging time for EVs is 30 minutes, and the car will only recharge to 80% capacity. Some cars need eight hours to charge for optimal performance. That means you have to recharge your car overnight if you want to use it in the morning. Using an electric vehicle requires planning and a good habit of keeping it plugged in when parked.


Battery range

Range anxiety is a major downside of having electric vehicles. Some EV owners constantly worry that the charge will not get them to their destination due to batteries with limited ranges. Current electric cars can deliver 300 to 400 kilometers on a full charge, but car manufacturers are constantly increasing EV ranges. If you charge the car every time you park, battery range will not be a major issue. You can also explore the latest PHEVs if you frequently go for long trips.


Expensive

Electric vehicles have a higher price tag when buying a new or used model. If you compare the prices of petrol or diesel-fuelled cars with EVs, you pay a premium price for an electric car from the same brand. Grants can cut costs, but the purchase price is still higher.

Are electric cars suitable for you?

When you weigh electric car pros and cons, you can determine whether an electric vehicle is suitable for you. The benefits of electric cars are clear-cut, but it is crucial to understand the downsides of using EVs. For instance, it may cost more to buy an electric vehicle, but reduced lifetime running costs may make them worth it. EVs are also perfect if you drive less, like running quick errands or daily commutes to the office. If you enjoy road trips, PHEVs are better suited for this purpose.

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