If you’re thinking about getting behind the wheel of an electric vehicle, find out what to expect – the good and the bad – with this Canstar Blue guide.
What are the pros and cons of electric cars?
As with any purchase, there’ll be pros and cons. But what exactly are the pros and cons of buying and owning an electric car? We’ve listed a few of the major pros and cons in the table below:
|Pros of EVs||Cons of EVs|
Advantages of owning an electric vehicle
The main advantages of having an electric car include:
- Less greenhouse emissions
- Cheaper to run
- Lower ongoing servicing and maintenance costs
- Quieter to drive
- Driving dynamics
- Additional storage space
Less greenhouse emissions
Arguably the biggest incentive for motorists to get behind, electric cars don’t emit exhaust, meaning they release less greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere than traditional combustion engines, reducing your carbon footprint. While the jury is still out as to whether electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than petrol or diesel engines (as we generally burn fossil fuels to create electricity, which is needed to power the car), electric vehicles at least lower your emissions due to less exhaust.
Cheaper to run
Electricity is (generally) cheaper than fuel – and less likely to drastically fluctuate overnight – meaning that in the long run, an electric car is cheaper to fuel than a petrol or diesel engine. While how much it costs you to recharge your electric car’s battery will depend on the car’s battery size, your electricity provider and local tariffs, electric vehicles generally work out cheaper than filling up at the bowser. And the other benefit? You won’t have to deal with long lines at the petrol station!
- Check out our guide to see how much you might save with electric car running costs.
Lower ongoing servicing and maintenance costs
Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than traditional combustion engines, meaning that servicing and maintenance costs are generally cheaper. Tricky parts such as spark plugs, valves, pumps, brakes and oil changes don’t have to be inspected or replaced as frequently – or at all – meaning that dropping your electric car off for a service isn’t as expensive. However, you’ll generally only be able to drop it off for a service at the dealership rather than any old mechanic to ensure you stay within your warranties, meaning you may sacrifice some convenience for a lower bill.
Quieter to drive
The lack of a combustion engine also means that getting in the driver’s seat of an electric car can be a quieter experience, allowing for a more comfortable journey without road noise in the cabin. That being said, some models also add noise for when you put the foot down, meaning you don’t miss out on the engine roar.
While there’ll be motoring enthusiasts out there who will prefer to stick to the traditional models, electric cars offer plenty of zip for drivers, with most electric models providing more torque to allow you to get off the mark quicker, as well as offer a smoother drive thanks to the improved torque and lack of gearbox. As the battery is also generally attached to the chassis underneath the floor, the car’s centre of gravity is often lower than other cars, altering the handling when you’re behind the wheel and giving you some additional thrills.
Additional storage space
While it may not be the deciding factor as to whether you head to your nearest dealership, electric cars generally have space for a frunk – also known as a front trunk – where the engine traditionally sits in a petrol or diesel model. Electric cars generally have the battery pack mounted underneath the floor, and as they require less parts to get started and keep moving, there’s more space for you to put your bags. However, this doesn’t mean that electric cars have the largest storage capacity available, so if you’ve got plenty to pack, be sure to check out what the total storage capacity is before you start playing luggage-tetris.
Photo credit: carsales.com.au
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Disadvantages of having an electric car
The main disadvantages of having an electric car include:
- Higher upfront costs
- Range limitations
- Time to recharge battery
- Lack of charging stations and infrastructure
- Lack of car models available
- Resale value
Higher upfront costs
A new car isn’t a cheap purchase to make, with this especially true for electric cars. The cheapest electric model currently available in Australia – the MG ZS EV – is still priced at over $40,000, around double the non-electric MG ZS version, with many electric cars costing well over $100,000. The reason behind this price difference is due to how new electric vehicle technology is, and that it’s currently not the most popular option for motorists. However, as the technology grows more popular and more manufacturers make the switch, the high upfront cost is likely to drop in the future.
- You’ll also have to factor in purchasing charging stations for your house, as well as any infrastructure changes that you may need to ensure that you can charge your electric car at home.
While this con has largely been addressed, when electric cars first hit the open road, they were limited to a range of under 200km until the battery ran out of juice, meaning most motorists had to stick relatively close to home. However, most modern electric cars can achieve between 300km and 400km on a single charge, with some models able to achieve closer to 600km. However, a wide variety of petrol and diesel cars are able to travel around the 600km mark on a single tank, with some diesel engines even capable of going over 1,500km (although this is dependent on a variety of factors). While you can mitigate some of the issue with a bit of planning, and ensuring you’re charged up before you head off, it is something to keep in the back of your mind if you want to head off on a road trip.
Time to recharge battery
Unless you have a few gremlins under the hood, most of us can simply jump into the car, turn the key and head off. For electric cars however, there’s a bit more planning involved if you’ve got errands to run or a busy weekend ahead, with some electric cars taking well over half a day to fully charge depending on the battery’s charge level and what type of charger you’re using. As a result, having to wait around until your car is charged impacts on the convenience of having a car in the first place, although you can always invest in fast chargers to help cut down on some of the wait time, although this may not suit every household and car model available.
Lack of charging stations and infrastructure
While the technology of electric vehicles becomes more widespread, motorists currently don’t see many charging stations around like they do petrol stations. And even if you’re lucky enough to come across a charging station in a public space like a hotel, it’s not often that you find more than one, so if someone has already jagged it, you may be waiting a while before you can start recharging.
Lack of car models available
While more manufacturers are slowly coming to the fray, Aussie motorists currently don’t have a lot of variety when it comes to choosing an electric car. While big names like Tesla offer multiple models, and manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Jaguar, Range Rover, Mercedes, MG, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche and Volvo each offering some type of electric model, there’s a lot less available than in comparison to the petrol or diesel-powered markets. As a result, you may not find exactly what you were looking for.
They say that a car is the biggest depreciating asset that you’ll ever own, and that can particularly be the case with an electric car. With the technology steaming ahead, older electric vehicle models may not be as valuable as owners may hope them to be down the line, meaning if you’re looking to upgrade, you may be left out of pocket when it comes to reselling your old wheels.
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Is it worth getting an electric car?
As more Australians become more environmentally-conscious, it’s no surprise to see that electric vehicles are becoming more commonplace out on our roads. But while there might be plenty of long-term benefits to driving and owning an electric vehicle, the higher upfront costs and lagging infrastructure may continue to prove to be a barrier for many to get behind the wheel of one.
However, with more manufacturers investing in electric vehicle technology (and pledging to move away from combustion engines), as well as more infrastructure being built in Australia, electric vehicles may become more accessible in the future, meaning there are some benefits to getting in ahead of the curve.
Picture credit: Matej Kastelic/shutterstock.com, riopatuca/shutterstock.com, RossHelen/shutterstock.com, Moab Repubic/shutterstock.com