Technology has been the driver of human progress since the birth of civilization. However, when new technologies are developed, this capacity to transform lives makes people anxious and is a ripe breeding ground for myths and paranoia. There were fears that the unnatural speeds of locomotive trains would cause people to melt or that harmful radiation was emitted by devices such as television sets and wi-fi routers. Today, one such technology that is surrounded by myths is electric vehicles. Not all of these myths are based in paranoia, some come from skepticism about whether EVs are a viable proposition in India. Either way, it is necessary to dispel these myths because EVs are the future of automobiles, as can be seen by the fact that all major automobile manufacturers are pumping billions into the technology.
Myth #1: EVs are more expensive
There is a perception that EVs are more expensive because the market price of EVs is, on average, higher than their regular ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) counterparts. However, the more prudent view of looking at the cost of a vehicle is to see what expenses are incurred in the life cycle of its usage. There are 3 broad categories of costs: the upfront cost (the cost of purchase), operating costs (fuel costs), and maintenance costs. While the upfront costs of EVs are currently higher than ICE vehicles, this is offset by savings in fuel and maintenance costs. Per kilometer fuel costs are significantly lower for EVs while the lack of both liquid and moving parts means that maintenance costs are a fraction of ICE vehicles. It is therefore possible to make up the increased upfront cost within months of using an EV. Moreover, with increased research both the upfront and fuel costs of EVs will reduce over time, making EVs even more of a viable and economical alternative.
Myth #2: EVs have a limited range
This may have been true at one stage, but developments in battery technology have drastically improved the range of EVs. The advent of lithium-ion batteries in particular has more than doubled the energy capacity of EVs in the last decade. The average range of EVs is now more than adequate for most people to commute to and from work (even if the only charging point is at home), and travel within the city. However, inter-city travel is still a bit difficult with most EVs, especially two-wheelers if the dependence is on a single charge. Charging stations could help address this, especially with the option of fast charging, but there are currently not enough stations to create consumer confidence to travel. That being said, the inter-city range of EVs will only increase as technology advances and more charging stations are set up.
Myth #3: Lithium-ion batteries are dangerous and not suited to Indian temperatures
The same reason why lithium is such a good material for batteries also means that it is potentially combustible. This is, of course, just as true for fuels for ICE vehicles, and like ICE vehicles, EVs go through rigorous testing and regulations to ensure that safety protocols are being upheld. This testing also ensures that battery management systems (BMSs) maintain the optimal temperatures required for the batteries to perform. A lithium-ion battery lasts for 4-5 years on average, but unlike regular fuel, the batteries can be repurposed and used in inverters and UPSs.
Myth #4: EVs just substitute fuel emissions for coal ones
The electricity from EVs has to come from somewhere, and in India, this is predominantly from coal. But it is better to take a longer and broader perspective on this issue. The government is fully supporting a push towards renewable energy sources which would make EVs and hybrid vehicles significantly more emission friendly. The transport sector is a fast-growing contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gases, and shifting to the zero-tailpipe emissions of EVs will significantly reduce this trend.
Myth #5: EVs are slow and have bad performance
This couldn’t be further from the truth as the top speeds of Indian EVs range from 80-170 kph. Many EVs have deliberate speed caps to ensure better range and battery efficiency. EVs are also able to instantly apply torque and can thus easily match or exceed the acceleration of ICE engines. A good example of this is the Tesla Model S which is capable of 0-100 kph in just 2.4 seconds, making it one of the fastest accelerating cars in the world, ICE engines included.
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