E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
As we move into 2022, you're going to see more advertising for hybrids and all electric vehicles from virtually every automobile manufacturer.
Most consumers will have several questions and concerns about electrically powered vehicles as they consider a potential purchase.
These concerns center around the issues of mileage between charges (range), charging times, availability of charging stations; home installed charging options, reliability, safety, warranty, and dealer service.
Electric motor and battery technology is evolving almost daily. Mileage, or range as it is more often referred to in electric vehicles is increasing between charges significantly. The question is, how much of the manufacturing statistics provided on those windows stickers can you believe? The short answer is we really don't know right now. What is obvious is the automobile manufacturers will attempt to make their vehicles look the best by citing the greatest range statistics.
What I suspect the consumer is going to find, is that the actual range of any electric vehicle will vary greatly depending on where it's used and how it's used.
There could be significant differences in the range of an electrically powered vehicle from a cold or cooler climate to a warmer climate. Remember that both heating and cooling will be provided by electric energy drawn from the battery pack. As you use the car's electric energy supply to control the cabin environment, it will reduce the amount of energy available to power the vehicle.
So, the point is, take those range statistics with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, you're not going to know the actual range of any electric vehicle you purchase until you have it and have driven it for some time.
Electric Vehicle Charging
The electric vehicle manufacturers are all faced by the daunting issue of providing charging stations. There is yet to develop a significant model from any of the fossil-fuel retail providers to support a large influx of electrically powered vehicles. Right now, it's hard to make a case for the investment. However, as the number of electrically powered vehicles on our roadways grows exponentially you will begin to see charging stations deployed at what are now traditional gasoline fuel stops.
The daunting issue is using your electric vehicle on longer trips. Electric vehicles purchased for computer use around town, taking the kids to school, going grocery shopping will present few if any recharging problems if a sufficient recharging connection has been created at the home.
So, when considering the purchase of an electric vehicle you must carefully consider exactly what that vehicle is going to be used for. If your daily commute or vehicle usage is well under the vehicles estimated range, then you should have no problem keeping the vehicle sufficiently powered. Just remember, that range should be the actual range not necessarily the range on the window sticker.
Since there are many electrically powered vehicles currently on the road, I would not expect reliability to be a significant issue from the major automotive manufacturers.
There will certainly be problems with electric vehicles just like there are with their fossil-fuel counterparts and recalls. If you are an early adopter of electrically powered cars and trucks, you must make those purchases with the fact firmly in mind that you are part of the electrically powered vehicle development process.
The only real proving ground for automobiles since the beginning of motorized transportation has been the highway and the roadway. No manufacturer honestly knows how things are going to go with any vehicle regardless of its power plant until you put it in the hands of multiple users with multiple applications and widely varying driving styles.
So, if you're early in, look to be part of that process.
Safety, Warranty, And Dealer Service
There's a lot of effort going into making electrically powered vehicles as safe as they can possibly be. However, once again until we actually get them on the road in large numbers, we're not going to know all the answers to the safety issues. From a crash, crunch, and crumple perspective, they should not vary widely from traditionally powered automobiles. From a fire, explosion perspective they present a whole new series of issues for manufacturers, users, and first responders.
I think warranty and dealer service for the electrically powered vehicle will in the near term be exceptional. In the short term, until dealer service departments get their technicians to the factory authorized schools and become proficient in dealing with the electrical portion of the vehicle, service could be a bit sketchy. Wait times at dealers for service appointments related to electrically powered vehicles could be excessive early on and in some cases problematic.
It's certainly in the interest of both the car dealership and the vehicle manufacturer to ensure that the automotive technicians working in the service department get the best and latest training on how to deal with these totally different vehicles.
I don't think this should be a major decision point as you consider buying an electric vehicle, but it should be something you should be aware of. Rolling up to your dealer with your new electric car that has some sort of minor problem, you may not be able to get in for an immediate service appointment. Just something to think about
All in all, I think the electric vehicle is a wise purchase specifically to use as a commuter vehicle to perform all those short trip commuter functions that we do every day.
It won't be long before the over the road; longer haul trip will be just another trip with charging opportunities along the way that will be sufficient to quickly recharge the battery and get you moving on down the road.
For now, that doesn't exist and that should be part of your equation as you evaluate whether or not you're going to go electric.
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