E-car vs. Internal combustion engines: the comparison

Without question, the coronavirus pandemic has set back the auto industry in what should be a pivotal year for the e-car sector. Nevertheless, electric vehicles can play an important role in shaping the future. Because there are many calls for the economy to be rebuilt in a sustainable way.

Although interest in electric vehicles has grown slowly but surely over the past decade, many prejudices persist that prevent potential buyers from making the switch to electric cars.

these prejudices usually revolve around the issues of cost, performance, charging and the actual environmental performance of electric vehicles. In this article, we take a look at the most common concerns consumers have and see if they are justified.

1. Are electric cars as cheap as internal combustion cars??

E-car vs. gasoline car expenses: comparison of costs incurred per year - Wallbox Infographic

Some consumers have shied away from buying electric and hybrid vehicles because they believe they will cost comparatively more to operate. However, electric vehicles are now much cheaper to buy than they were a few years ago and generally cost less to run in the long term. In spain, for example, the recommended list price for the SEAT mii electric is only 17.900, and the nissan leaf, one of the most popular electric vehicles on the market, is available in germany for 36.800 € (english comparison) available. In addition, thanks to financial incentives in various european countries, up to 6.000 € of the purchase price can be saved. This means that many electric vehicles are already cheaper to buy than gasoline-powered alternatives. And even more for maintenance: a study carried out in the USA shows that an e-car owner saves an average of $632 per year compared to a gasoline car driver. This means that after a few years, more expensive electric vehicles can be cheaper to buy than their cheaper internal combustion engine counterparts (see graph above).

Where do these lower costs come from? In addition to the aforementioned incentives for buying an electric vehicle, e-car owners save primarily on gasoline and maintenance costs. In concrete terms, the lower price per kilometer is reflected in the fact that electricity is cheaper than gasoline and thus the consumption costs are lower. In addition, as stated in an article by the united states department of energy, the maintenance costs of electric cars are lower because they have fewer fluids (oil and transmission fluid) that need to be replaced. Furthermore, electric vehicles consist of fewer wear parts that may require repair or even replacement. Finally, electric vehicles use a system called recuperation, in which kinetic energy normally lost during braking is stored and reused for propulsion. This also means that brake pads need to be replaced less frequently over the years.

It is important to note that due to the higher weight and high torque, tire wear on electric vehicles can be significantly higher than on a gasoline or diesel vehicle. The battery may also need to be replaced once during the life of the electric car, which can be very costly. However, most e-car batteries last approx. Ten years and experts explain that the cost has already fallen sharply in recent times. By the time a replacement is needed for a new car, a new battery will be much cheaper. You should also keep in mind that repairing or replacing an internal combustion engine can also cost up to 10.000, that electric cars generally require less repair and are much cheaper to buy and operate.

2. Are electric cars as fast as internal combustion cars??

Many people associate the hum of the engine with pure power and therefore make the false assumption that the quiet electric vehicles can offer less speed and less performance. But the opposite is the case. Evs accelerate faster than cars with internal combustion engines and are more than fast enough for everyday use.

The reason? electric motors are much simpler than internal combustion engines. That’s why e-cars have full torque almost immediately when accelerating from a standstill. Traditional internal combustion engines, on the other hand, take longer to transmit the power generated by the engine to the wheels because it has to pass through more moving parts such as the gearbox.

Of course, the simplified engine of electric cars also has its disadvantages. Since most electric vehicles have only one gear, carmakers have to make a trade-off between fast acceleration and high top speed. This dilemma is comparable to the gear ratio of a one-speed bicycle: if the highest gear were set as the only gear, it would be more difficult to start, while in the lowest gear, fast acceleration would only be possible with a great deal of effort. For this reason, many e-cars are compromised, often resulting in lower top speeds for electric vehicles compared to their gasoline-powered, stick-shift counterparts. However, the top speeds of the most popular e-car models still exceed the speed limits on the roads in most parts of the world. Except for racing drivers, the top speeds of electric vehicles are therefore more than high enough.

3. What about range??

Range of new e-car models compared to gasoline models - Wallbox Infographic

According to a recent study, apart from price, the biggest concern of potential e-car buyers is range anxiety, i.e. how far they would get on a tank of gas. However, the concerns in this regard can be allayed, as many newer EV models already achieve the range of an average gasoline-powered car.

Because the performance of electric vehicles is improving all the time. Most electric models now have a range of 200-490 km on a single tank of gas. According to data from the WLTP test lab, newer e-car models such as the hyundai kona electric (449 km), the chevrolet bolt EV (380 km) and the kia e-niro (455 km) already have a range similar to that of an average gasoline-powered car. To put these figures into perspective, you could easily get from brussels to paris (316 km) or from london to liverpool (350 km) without stopping to recharge. What’s more, luxury cars like the Tesla Model S Long Range can travel up to 610 km on a full charge, making it possible to drive from Barcelona to Madrid on just one charge. A report by the european commission’s joint research center also shows that car owners only drive between 40 and 90 km per day on average, so that even older EV models are capable of covering everyday distances.

4. Are there enough charging stations?

Many people are also concerned about whether the network of e-car charging stations is dense enough. But in the end, this question is not so important. Because most people, as just mentioned, only drive around 40-90 km (English study) per day, this means you can easily charge at home overnight without even having to go to a public charging station. Therefore, it makes little sense to compare the number of public charging stations with that of gas stations.

In addition, the number of charging stations around the world is increasing steadily, so this argument will quickly lose its significance. In charging station maps like open charge map, plugshare, chargemap or even google maps (english article) this is clearly visible. Studies also show that while the number of public charging points in the EU in 2011 was still 2.379, but by 2020 it will be more than 190.000 amounted to.

Many governments and companies have developed financial incentives and programs to promote the widespread construction of e-charging stations and are likely to continue in this direction. As explained in our article "how the corona era is affecting our environment", many groups and governments are striving to give a green touch to the rebuilding of the post-corona economy. There is therefore a concrete hope that the e-car charging infrastructure will be improved and that this opportunity will be used to create a more sustainable earth.

5. Is the charging process fast enough??

Another misconception among potential buyers concerns the supposedly slow charging process of electric vehicles. But since electric vehicles can be easily charged at home, they can simply be plugged in after arriving home and charged overnight. This makes charging much more practical and means that you can start every morning with an e-car fully charged.

Thanks to technological development, the charging times of electric vehicles have been significantly reduced in recent years. a nissan leaf with a 30 kw/h battery can now be charged with a 22 kw charger in approx. 90 minutes of charging. And ultra-fast superchargers with a capacity of 150 kw or more are only just coming onto the market. This means that soon electric cars will be able to be charged in minutes, not hours.

6. Are electric vehicles really the cleaner and greener choice??

Scepticism also often surrounds the question of whether electric vehicles are really better for the environment. The short answer is: yes, vehicles powered by electricity are indeed "greener" and an important building block on the road to a more sustainable future. For example, the electric version of the average mid-size car has been shown to outperform its gasoline equivalent in terms of air pollution.

Since e-cars are powered by electricity, the environmental footprint of the driving process is better than that of a gasoline-powered vehicle. Of course, it is very important to ensure that the electricity used by the electric car itself comes from a clean energy source. This is possible with the help of smart charging technology, which allows electricity consumption to be aligned with the availability of electricity from renewable sources, which varies by day or season.

Another frequently asked question is about how environmentally friendly the electric vehicle manufacturing process actually is. studies (english article) have shown that over their lifetime, electric vehicles emit much less greenhouse gases than internal combustion engine vehicles. However, the mining of raw materials and the production of lithium-ion batteries generates waste and harmful emissions. Therefore, it is important to improve all processes of the entire supply chain and their impact on all stakeholders in order to make electric vehicles even more environmentally friendly.

Some positive developments can already be seen. For example, the production of lithium-ion batteries now produces less than half the emissions of 2017. Another aspect that could be improved concerns production locations and processes. If the batteries were manufactured in europe, for example, their carbon footprint would be lower, as the proportion of renewable energy used to power factories is higher in this country (english study). With better production methods and recycling processes, emissions could also be significantly reduced (english article).

There are also an increasing number of initiatives looking at the reuse of e-car batteries once they have reached the end of their useful life. Thus, at the end of their service life, which is still at approx. 70% of the capacity of an electric car battery can be used and the battery can have a second life as an energy storage device. Recycling processes are also becoming more advanced, meaning that precious lithium and other metals can be recovered. This will not only prevent harmful emissions, but also curb the growing demand for raw materials that is leading to excessive resource depletion.

All in all, it’s clear that electric vehicles are the greener, cleaner transportation choice.

7. Are our power grids designed for electric vehicles??

is our grid ready for a full transition to electric vehicles?

Some potential e-car buyers also wonder whether our power grids are ready to power all future electric vehicles. But in reality, the many electric vehicles will not be a problem, but a solution for the grid, especially as we transition to more sustainable societies.

Yes, more electric vehicles also lead to greater electricity demand. But thanks to two innovative technologies, smart charging and bidirectional charging, the power grid will be able to withstand the increased demand without a major expansion of existing infrastructure. As we explained in our article "smart charging: benefits for the grid, businesses and e-car owners," electricity providers can use smart charging to develop dynamic energy systems that include electric cars. Electricity demand can thus be shifted to times of low demand and power does not need to be increased. our article "why electromobility is the key to climate change" also shows how electric vehicles in combination with bidirectional chargers have important storage capacities. Making sure that power grids with a focus on renewables are unburdened rather than burdened. Thanks to the combination of both technologies, the burden on our current energy infrastructure can therefore be reduced. Electric cars can be charged overnight, for example, when demand is lower, and then the stored energy can be used to charge the home or sell the electricity back to grid operators at peak times.

An electric vehicle is an investment in the future

Sales of electric cars in the first half of the year are down in all markets due to the coronavirus. But interest in electric cars continues unabated. For example, in the uK, registrations of electric and plug-in hybrid cars have increased significantly (english link), although the total number of registrations has fallen to half of the expected figures. In the USA, too, consumers are showing great interest in taking the step toward electrification, and not only as the first choice for their private cars. They also call for more investment in charging infrastructure, electric public transport and changes in taxation. The public’s willingness to embrace these changes will play a fundamental role in the transition to electric vehicles and the slow but sure phasing out of cars with internal combustion engines. The choice is yours, and the decision is easier than you think. Because an electric vehicle can be just as practical, inexpensive and pleasant to drive as a gasoline or diesel vehicle. In many cases the stromer is even superior to the gasoline engine. And you are driving to a more sustainable future.

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