Should You Consider Buying an Electric Car?

Electric vehicles have been around since 1830, and were overtaken in use by the gasoline combustion engine, but are now seeing a resurgence.

On August 5, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order mandating that half of all vehicles be electric by 2030 as a challenge to the executives from Ford and GM joined Biden at the White House as well as leaders from the United Auto Workers. In addition to setting this 50 percent-by-2030 goal, the executive order reversed former President Donald Trump’s more relaxed emissions standards with stricter ones.

This goal of having new electric vehicles to provide zero emissions would include battery electric vehicles, and plug-in Hybrid cars that fall back on gasoline only after the electric powered battery has run out. In addition, this includes fuel cell electric vehicles that burn hydrogen and emit no carbon dioxide.

But are electric cars really the solution? There are a number of reasons I think that they might not be.

They’re Not Very Reliable

Newer electric cars aren’t always the most reliable and when they do break down, it’s difficult to find someone who can fix them. The traditional mechanic doesn’t necessarily have the equipment or expertise to repair them. As they become more common, however, this will be less of an issue.

You Pay More For What You Get

Electric cars depreciate faster than their gas-powered counterparts. That means that if you purchase an electric car, the car won’t be worth as much when you go to trade it in for a newer model. In addition, the parts are expensive to replace. Three to eighteen thousand dollars. An electric car is not for the penny pincher.  

Challenges in Charging Your Vehicle

Charging an electric car can be a challenge. To put in a charging station in your home, a home EV charging station costs $350 to $900 alone, and labor costs $400 to $1,700 to install, and then there’s the increase in your electric bill.

On average, it costs around $0.30 to $0.60 kWh to charge your electric vehicle; therefore, a smaller vehicle could cost around $11 to $25 to charge fully. For larger vehicles, it can cost between $22 to $45.

If you’re traveling across the country in your electric car, you’d better be sure that you know where your next charge will occur before you ever need it. According to statistics, as of January 2022, there are 113,600 charging stations in the US. Almost half of those are in California and many of those are in the hands of private individuals. That means that the rest of the charging stations are spread out over the entire country and most of those are around big cities so if you live in small-town, USA, you might be out of luck when it comes to charging your vehicle when you’re away from home.

In addition, it will take you longer to go across the country in your electric car. Public chargers are split into the standard wall-box type which takes one to six hours to charge your car and rapid or quick chargers. Rapid/quick chargers can recharge the latest electric cars in less than an hour, perfect for a lunch stop on a motorway journey.

Most cars charges last between 10-12 hours but some last only about 4 hours. That means that at the optimal value of the charge, the cost of a charge is comparable to the cost of a fill-up at a gas station. If driving across the country, a charge of your electric car would cost about as much as the cost of a tank of gas in the same time period.

Of course, this problem should be better resolved as electric vehicles become more commonplace.

Does Having an Electric Car Really Help the Environment?

I think, however, the idea that electric cars are good for the environment might be a little premature. I have my doubts about the idea that electric cars will help protect the environment first because we heard this same song and dance when we were told that biofuel would help protect the environment. The fact is, growing grains used in the production of biofuel and the conversion of those grains into biofuel costs more than ten times the energy that the biofuel produced. That, of course, is not what the US government documentation says, they say that the fuel produced requires less energy. But that documentation only considers the cost of producing the fuel AFTER the grains are produced. It doesn’t consider the fact the fuel that is used in the fields are plowed, the grain planted, and the grain harvested and delivered to the grain silos at the biofuel production locations.

The same type of scenario can be said about using electric cars. Electricity is the least efficient form of energy because it is a secondary source of it. The electricity must come from somewhere and if that electricity is something like coal or nuclear power or even natural gas, it relies on a non-green energy source. Solar and wind farms may be produced directly from the sun, but they require expensive metal components that must be mined and in the process of mining, those items are highly destructive to the environment as well.  Hydroelectric power is limited use in that hydroelectric plants require creating reservoirs that disrupt animal habitats.

Conservation Is Always A Better Solution

Sometimes the best solutions are the low-tech solutions. Perhaps a better solution would be in figuring out how we can avoid driving so much and learn to be content with staying closer to home more often. We can save by avoiding getting into our cars at all. There are, of course, many ways to be more conservative getting from place to place, and this sounds like content for another post.

If you have any questions or comments or would like me to write about a specific topic, please let me know in the comments below.

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