Answers within this article have been put together by members of our community [primarily from this post], of course, you could argue we’re biased in our responses, however, we’ve linked to as many external sources as possible and do encourage everyone to do their own research as well. To be clear, electric cars are not perfect, certain aspects (e.g. UK charging infrastructure needs constant improvement) but they’re superior in many ways to petrol, diesel and Hydrogen cars. Feel free to use all wording and images from this page without crediting this page, although if you’ve found it useful please consider following us on Twitter | Instagram & Facebook + sharing the link with your EV friends.
The environmental impact of electric cars
Isn’t more CO2 produced during the production of an EV compared with a petrol car? / Electric cars are actually worse because of the environmental cost of making the batteries
It’s a fair point on the face of it but you have to look at the whole picture, quite a lot of CO2 is produced when manufacturing an electric car (nobody can deny that, although it’s getting better, but over a lifetime an electric car is up to 73% efficient but an equivalent in a petrol vehicle is only 13% efficient from the fuel you put into them [source], when you look at the lifetime of the vehicle, which is surely the most important factor, considering the vast majority of people drive their cars instead of buying them to stare at the CO2 levels of owning an electric car are dramatically smaller than a petrol or diesel powered equivalent. “Manufacturing a mid-sized EV with an 84-mile range results in about 15 percent more emissions than manufacturing an equivalent gasoline vehicle. For larger, longer-range EVs that travel more than 250 miles per charge, the manufacturing emissions can be as much as 68 percent higher.” [source] “Shorter range models can offset the extra emissions within 6 months—and continue to outperform gasoline cars until the end of their lives.” [source]Also, with economies of scale the CO2 footprint will continue to drop for EV production, already we’re seeing many factories turning to solar and wind power at the bare minimum to power their mega/giga factories!
Cobalt is mined by children
The photos are shocking, nobody should condone such behaviour and it should continue to be irradicated from being a viable method of mining but it’s important to remember that Cobalt is used in the process of refining and cleaning of oil, petrol, diesel, jet fuel etc, the processes are known as desulphurisation & hydrodesulfurization, in short they use Cobalt to help remove sulphur from these fuels [source], not only that but it’s an ingredient in every Smartphone, Laptop and pretty much anything with a battery in so we should all care about this issue and not just point the finger at electric cars. Regardless, I’m sure we can all agree that Responsible Mineral sourcing is vitally important but if there is only an finite amount of it available we should be looking at alternatives regardless, companies like Tesla are soon to remove it completely from their batteries [source] whilst also (like other brands) adding further checks to ensure it’s sourced responsibly. Tesla say “The cobalt content of our Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum cathode chemistry is already lower than next-generation cathodes that will be made by other cell producers with a Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt ratio of 8:1:1. As a result, even with its battery, the gross weight of Model 3 is on par with its gasoline-powered counterparts.” [source] Tesla say “Tesla is committed to sourcing responsibly and considers mining activities that fuel conflict as unacceptable. All of our contracts require suppliers to adhere to Tesla policies, which include our Supplier Code of Conduct, Human Rights and Conflict Minerals Policy and environmental and safety requirements. As part of this, Tesla’s suppliers are expected to use reasonable efforts to ensure that parts and products supplied to Tesla are “conflict free,” meaning that such mining or mineral trading does not directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups in the DRC or any other countries.” [source] Further reading/links:
- Tesla Conflict Minerals Report
- 2018 Q1 report
- Tesla’s Cobalt Usage To Drop From 3% Today To 0%, Elon Commits
The tyres and brake pads still pollute the air so why bother?
The brake pads on an electric car typically last twice as long (if not longer) as a petrol/diesel car, as the energy normally transferred from the wheel to the brake discs/pads is instead sucked up by the regenerative braking system of the car (effectively the motor generates electricity as soon as you from the motion of the car as it slows down) [source] Particles from the tyres should be the same as a comparable ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle.
The cars are heavy, surely that means the roads will wear out quicker?
This dramatically depends on the cars you’re comparing, a Tesla Model 3 is going to be lighter than a Range Rover Defender but a like for like comparison between an electric car and a petrol car of the same exterior size/shape and of a similar performance etc should show the electric car always being heavier, however, there are always going to be heavier cars, vans or trucks out there on the roads and whilst all vehicles cause damage over time it’s going to only ever be marginal compared with large trucks with trailers Example weight difference: Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh = 1685 kg Hyundai Kona Petrol = 1208 kg Land Rover Defender = 2133kg
Electric cars increase the numbers of people on the road, surely that isn’t a good thing?
We’re not really sure how this argument comes about but giving companies like Tesla are pushing for Autonomous Ride Sharing schemes we cannot see how there will be more cars on the roads, as you won’t need to own a car anymore, you can simply rent one by the minute/hour/day etc and it will arrive to collect you and drive you to your destination, what will happen is that individual cars will get used more and have less dwell/idle time, because when you’re not using the car it can be out working for you.
I would be better off and the environment would be better off if I just kept my current petrol car.
It’s a fair point, it might be true in your personal circumstances but the answer will depend on the age, pollution levels, miles driven, value and the cost to fill up your existing car, this will be down to you doing the maths comparison, regardless “In all the cases examined, the electric car has a climate advantage over the combustion engine over its entire life cycle.” [source], so when looking at buying a replacement car moving to a fully electric or even a plug-in hybrid should provide you with much lower running costs, lower longterm environmental impact and most importantly less local pollution. You would also be better off and so would the environment if you sold your existing car and moved to walking, cycling and public transport but considering a large portion of the UK population commute to work via car it’s unlikely that will be convienent for the majority of commuters.
What about the lithium mines? What happens when there is no more lithum?
Most of the lithium found today is extracted from brine reservoirs located in regions of southwestern South America and China.” [source] “Lithium is traditionally processed from brine, spodumene, and clay. But there are new forms may make extraction easier as technology continues to develop.” [source] Lithium mining is not great, but they’re getting better at minimising environmental impact through more recycling, better methods of mining and less lithium being needed on newer batteries. A Tesla battery contains about 12kg of Lithium – which will allow the battery to operate for 20-30 years, you can probably guess how much weight the fuel needed for an oil car is during its 20 year lifetime! “The main finding of this study is that the impact of a Li-ion battery used in BEVs for transport service is relatively small. In contrast, it is the operation phase that remains the dominant contributor to the environmental burden caused by transport service as long as the electricity for the BEV is not produced by renewable hydropower. ” [source, note it’s from 2010]
Electric cars still use oil to create the car itself which is still bad for the environment | The cars are full of plastic which is made from oil
Correct, but no more than ICE (petrol/diesel car) manufacture.
The powering of electric cars
Electric cars are just powered by coal or nuclear power plants
More UK electricity was produced by wind and solar sources in 2017 than by nuclear power stations. [source] “When an internal combustion vehicle rolls off the line its emissions per km are set, but for an EV they keep falling every year as the grid gets cleaner,” Colin McKerracher, a transport analyst at BNEF, said. [source] In April 2018 Britain went 55 hours without using coal power at all – for the first time in 136 years. [source] Electricity production from coal in 2018 was less than any time since the industrial revolution, with the first “coal free day” in 2017 and the first coal free week in 2019 [source] Coal supplied 5.4% of UK electricity in 2018, down from 7% in 2017, 9% in 2016, 23% in 2015 and 30% in 2014 [source] The National Grid consists of lots of energy sources though and even those that appear clean on the face of it aren’t completely perfect, that said even if we were to power ALL electric cars just with coal powered energy it would still be cleaner than powering all cars with petrol! The global share of zero-carbon electricity generation is set to increase from 38 percent last year to 63 percent by 2040, according to projections from BNEF [source] In June 2017 renewables plus nuclear generated more UK power than gas and coal together for the first time and new offshore wind power became cheaper than new nuclear power for the first time [source] More articles:
- Wikipedia UK Energy use
- UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time
- GridCarbon app (shows the current energy mix)
- Gridwatch (web-based live monitoring of the national grid) or Carbon Intensity
Electric cars just move the problem
Electric powered cars do move the problem [the pollution created by generating electricity] but the problem is getting smaller each day and when the grid gets cleaner each month (e.g. like this) everyone wins, that said the main issue with vehicle pollution is people breathing it in (e.g. children that walk to school but walk past / along a road) and it costs us greatly, pollution from cars and vans costs £6 billion per year in health damages [source] and with each car in London costing the NHS and society £8,000 due to air pollution, report finds [source] it’s important to move this problem away from our towns and cities, whilst also removing the need for coal, gas and diesel powered electricity generation. In 2015, diseases caused by pollution were responsible for 9 million premature deaths. That is 16 percent of all global deaths. Fossil fuel combustion in higher-income countries and the burning of biomass in lower-income countries accounts for 85 percent of airborne particulate pollution. [source] [infographic] Air pollution: Half a million early deaths in Europe despite progress [source]
Hydrogen / Fuel cell cars are the future
The current charging infrastructure
Not everyone has a place to charge their cars / Lack of driveways
It’s certainly an issue for roughly 35% of the UK population, thankfully there are steps that address this issue but fundamentally it will be down to councils, government, landlords and businesses to offer options for street, community or local charging options. Copied from Twitter: In the UK 34.85% (RAC foundation, 2009) of car owners don’t have the privilege of off-street parking and 95% of the time cars are parked doing nothing (Guardian, 2017)
What happens if all my neighbours have electric cars and all get home from work at similar times, won’t the power blackout?
The short answer is no, it will be fine. “The electricity networks operators, together, can enable a smooth and efficient consumer transition to EVs” – The National Grid [source] When was the last time you purchased a car? When will you next plan to buy a car? Most likely these dates won’t fall on the same day as the rest of the population of the UK, people buy cars at different moments of their lives and the “the average length of [car] ownership [is] around 4 years” [source] so based on this it’s easy to guess that The National Grid will have some advanced notice so they can plan and implement any changes in power requirements, considering all car chargers installed in the UK need to have a DNO request they know exactly where power is being requested. The National Grid had this to say: You could argue that millions of motorists all needing to charge their electric vehicles would require lots of new power stations just to meet this surge in demand. But in fact this is where better consumer engagement and advances in technology both have a part to play. If every consumer chose to charge their vehicle after getting home from work at 5pm, as System Operator we would face runaway peak demand to manage. The consumer would still have the choice of when and how to charge. In reality, there is already diversity of demand. People arrive home at different times and have different routines, with only one in five expected to charge at peak times. It’s a little bit like every home having a kettle, but we don’t all make a cup of tea at the same time. Solutions lie in a combination of incentives to encourage off-peak charging and smart systems that make the process of charging itself as simple and automated as possible Consumers would likely be just a couple of clicks on an app away from getting the whole thing done with the minimum of fuss.” [source]
The national grid cannot cope if we all move to electric cars
More UK electricity was produced by wind and solar sources in 2017 than by nuclear power stations. [source] and the amount of energy gained from renewable sources continues to grow massively year on year.
The charging infrastructure is awful, I have never seen a charger
10620 charger locations in the UK (source, Jan 2020)
The charging networks are such a mess, some requiring apps, others RFID cards and only a few allow credit/debit card facilities
Fair shout, in some cases it’s a bit of a mess still, thankfully Government have stepped in so all new rapid chargers by Spring 2020 will be required to accept credit/debit cards [source]
Other problems with electric cars
The range is poor / I need to drive 500 miles per day, electric cars aren’t practical
A Tesla will get you 180-300 miles per charge (depending on the model you buy), most other new electric cars on the market will do 150-280 miles per charge and you’ll wake up every day with a full tank! Don’t forget that most UK journeys are under 30 miles [source], so most people spend less time filling up an electric car than an oil car.
I want to drive 500 miles
It’s not even legal for a commercial driver to drive that long without a break for good reasons. If you’re taking a 30 minute break you might as well charge so there is simply no need for a 500 mile battery. Didn’t you say 250 miles 4 years ago? 500 miles! That’s 10 hours driving, you must have a big bladder.
EVs are great but only for short-distance trips
Electric cars will kill/hurt blind people or animals
The cars take hours to charge
The average car spends about 80% of the time parked at home, is parked elsewhere for about 16% of the time and is thus only actually in use (ie moving) for the remaining 4% of the time [source]. If you’re in the 75% of the UK population that has access to a driveway for your car you can have an external car charger installed so when you arrive home you simply plug the car in and it charges. Considering the average UK driver drives less than 30 miles per day, even the shortest ranged EV would be perfectly fine for the majority of car drivers in the UK
Electric car subsidies/grants basically just transfer wealth from the poor to the rich
I’m buying a self-charging hybrid instead, you don’t need to plug those in!
I’ve seen that electric cars go up in flames, do they catch on fire easily?
The batteries cost a fortune to replace, do the batteries end up in a landfill? The batteries cannot be disposed of safely
How many years will it be until I need to replace the battery?
A custom-made robotaxi capable of running about a million miles using a single battery pack, with all the sensors and computing power for full autonomy, should cost less than $38,000 to produce.” [source]
Electric car owners don’t pay their fair share to maintain roads
Tesla just uses government subsidies/loans and don’t pay them back, this isn’t sustainable longterm.
Tesla is going to fail, isn’t it? Have they ever made a profit?
What happens if Tesla goes bust? Will the cars suddenly stop working?
I’ve seen people die in a Tesla, they sound unsafe.
The resale value on them plummets. I’d lose a lot of money.
If there is a lightning strike will my battery explode or be damaged?
What happens if it rains or you need to go to a car wash?
Car insurance costs for EVs are excessive.
Aren’t electric cars slow?
I only drive manual cars so I wouldn’t change to an EV until they do a manual
Wind turbines kill birds
What happens when the sun goes behind the clouds and the wind stops? What are you going to do with that renewable energy then?
Nuclear is far easier, cheaper and cleaner than wind and solar so why the focus on these newer renewables?”
Nuclear is only cheaper because successive governments have chosen to treat the construction and decommissioning as capital expenditure. If the true cost of decommissioning was included in today’s electricity costs, the electricity would be roughly the same cost as off-shore wind.
- Onshore wind power and solar – without subsidies – are now the cheapest source of new bulk power in every major economy in the world apart from Japan
- UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time
- GridCarbon app (shows the current energy mix)
- Gridwatch (web-based live monitoring of the national grid) or Carbon Intensity
Renewable energy will take away jobs
Who is winning Europe’s Renewable Energy Race?
The people on the fence that are genuinely interested but have a problem
How long does it take to charge? What will I do when I’m waiting for it to finish charging?
Considering the average a UK motorist drivers per day is less than 30 miles [source], even the shortest ranged electric car would be perfectly fine for most of the time, however, most wouldn’t recommend one of those, instead you would aim for a 200+ range electric car, so for the occasional longer trips you have plenty of range.
I cannot charge it in my town what do I do?
Speak with your council about installing a nearby charging hub, on street chargers etc, there is a bit Government fund where they provide up to 75% of the cost.
What happens when you run out of battery?
What precautions do you currently take to avoid running out of petrol/diesel? … well, it’s the same precautions you’d take to avoid running out of electrons. Only it’s easier, because you can “refuel” every night at home You can’t accidentally run out at all. It would need to be a deliberate act on your part with plenty of warnings so you would’ve also had a plan ready for what you would do when you run out. When was the last time you ran out of petrol? There are more plug sockets than there are petrol stations. You can charge from any of them!
My local car dealer doesn’t stock them, why?
Will my energy bills go up?
Do I just plug in the car and it charges?
How cheap are they to run?
They’re just too expensive to buy
What happens about servicing?
Will it need an MOT?
They’re boring to drive / they handle like a boat
I’ve heard that repairing a Tesla is expensive
How long are they going to cover the battery warranty?
I can’t afford a Tesla
It’s good for other roads but not for German autobahns where it heats up very quickly when doing high speeds for long periods of time. (Is this true?
What is the cost of ownership?
Useful Links / Quotes:
Pollution from cars and vans costs £6billion per year in health damages – http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2018-06-06-pollution-cars-and-vans-costs-£6billion-year-health-damages In 2015, diseases caused by pollution were responsible for 9 million premature deaths. That is 16 percent of all global deaths. Fossil fuel combustion in higher-income countries and the burning of biomass in lower-income countries accounts for 85 percent of airborne particulate pollution. https://www.thelancet.com/commissions/pollution-and-health [infographic] Onshore wind power and solar – without subsidies – are now the cheapest source of new bulk power in every major economy in the world apart from Japan Air pollution: Half a million early deaths in Europe despite progress https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46017339 Each car in London costs NHS and society £8,000 due to air pollution, report finds https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/cars-air-pollution-cost-nhs-vans-vehicles-health-bills-lung-disease-a8384806.html UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time GridCarbon app (shows the current energy mix) Gridwatch (web-based live monitoring of the national grid) or Carbon Intensity Home Charging if you don’t have a driveway options Cobalt mining Images https://youtu.be/Nn__9hLJKAk Pollution_and_Health_Infographic[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]