Electric car crusaders must recognize the problems or the revolution will fail


As electric car sales continue to rise in Europe and politicians accelerate the demise of conventional motors, the media reports a constant rate of dissatisfaction from those who actually drive on the battery, which needs to be addressed. so that the advance continues.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) experts often turn out to be almost religious devotees who don’t want to see, hear, see or say anything negative about electric cars. It hides real-world issues in a haze of false optimism. The current record demand is likely to run out of steam when all of the early affluent users buy their BEVs, and if the next level of real-world demand is to succeed, these fundamental issues need to be addressed.

According to Fitch Solutions, sales of electric cars in Europe jumped by around 72% in 2021, but growth will slow significantly in 2022 to 28.4% for an annual volume of just over 3 million. Sales will slow down as many large automakers focus on selling as many internal combustion engine models ahead of the next tightening of carbon dioxide (CO) emissions in the European Union (EU) in 2025. This slowdown presents a great opportunity for automakers and infrastructure providers to seize store and solve some of the most glaring problems so that the next and most important round of the electric revolution can succeed.

Electric car drivers mainly complain about the clunky and unreliable charging infrastructure that makes long-distance travel a nightmare, although operators regularly claim that this has been miraculously improved. The price of vehicles makes even the cheapest versions too expensive for the average wage earner, and the cost of batteries is not about to plunge to match the internal combustion engine (ICE), as the industry likes to. ‘to assert. Raging demand and commodity bottlenecks are pushing prices in the opposite direction. There are some issues that automakers don’t shout at like the recommendation to rarely charge more than 80% capacity or let it run below 20%, with the best fill policy when you hit 50%. This of course makes fun of battery life claims and capacity data.

Manufacturers, with a few exceptions, offer official range figures that typically deviate 20-30% of actual battery capacity, while the problem of scary rapid evaporation at legal cruising speeds at high speed is another problem that does not dare to pronounce its name (see data sidebar). This is a big deal in Britain where the legal speed limit on motorways is 70 mph, but in mainland Europe, where the speed limit on the massive network is often 130 km / h (81.25 mph ), it is likely to be chronic. And in Germany, some sections of the motorway are not speed limited at all.

The European Union uses CO2 regulations to ensure that it will be very expensive for automakers to sell new ICE vehicles after 2030, while Britain has specifically banned their sale, with a few exceptions. hybrids. So, if the mass market is to be fully electric, what happens to apartment and townhouse dwellers who cannot install their own chargers? An electric car owner without a home charger will be a very frustrated individual, not least because the price of electricity at public charging stations is extremely expensive and comparable to gasoline or diesel. And of course, average workers risk being excluded from the new car market.

Among the high profile media exposures of electric car problems, BBC Radio 4 “You and yours” The Consumer Program cited a woman who attempted a 200 mile round trip from Oxford to Cambridge in an old electric car, across the country rather than on the highway, and barely got there, ahead reduce speed to 30 mph and turn off the phone, air conditioning and radio to make sure. On the way home, every charger she was looking for was broken, and she eventually had to stay overnight in a hotel and charge the car through her bedroom window and the regular hotel room outlet.

Channel 4 television “Dispatches” The program recently reported a similar worsening of charging and published a survey showing that one in 20 charging points in Britain were not usable, around 10% of fast chargers were out of service and 3% of new ultra chargers. fast were defective.

Mass circulation Sun The tabloid reporter also suffered from acute anxiety as the broken chargers were a major headache.

“Knowing that there was a charging station less than a mile from my house (in London), I was jaded when the battery turned red and the car started to display warnings. But all three charging points at the station were broken and the same thing happened at the following location, ”the Sun reporter said.

She also highlighted another negative point that will worry women users of charging stations in public places.

“Sitting in the slow charging Tesla

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(Model 3) in the back corner of a supermarket parking lot in the dark, I felt like a duck sitting, ”she said.

Another problem with the charging network is the lack of a common payment system. If you buy gasoline or diesel, you just pay with your credit card. But this is often not the case with electric recharging when you have to present on your phone an application that will contain your bank details. If you are planning to travel 400 miles across Britain, it would be wise to make sure you have maybe half a dozen different apps that are downloaded and ready to go. This is another problem that the industry recognizes and claims to solve, but it begs the question, why has it ever been considered a good idea in the first place?

My own research shows the scandalous habit of BEV manufacturers to exaggerate battery capacity. Typical is the 95 kWh Audi e-tron – official WLTP claim 241 miles, actual average mileage of my home charger 180 miles. The 58 kWh VW ID.3 and Vauxhall Corsa were just as bad. The Electric Mini was even worse – claiming 145 miles, actual capacity 98.5 miles. This data ignores the 80% rule, so the actual results will be worse.

Next, we come to the highway cruising debacle. Drive over 100 km / h and the energy is draining from the battery at a staggering rate. If you go down a highway in an Audi e-tron with the range indicator at 100 miles, you will only get about 75 miles at constant legal cruise speed, Polestar 2 and you will only get to about 41 miles, Jaguar I- Pace close to 67 miles.

These problems suggest that politicians are trying to force the industry to prematurely dump ICE cars and embrace BEVs as if the former are evil embodied and the latter, the Holy Grail, are making a huge mistake. Only Stellantis Leading automotive executives CEO Carlos Tavares had the courage to say loud and clear that this will be an inexcusable waste of precious ICE resources.

Meanwhile, if electricity fanatics continue to forge policy, my take that BEVs are desperate at high speed on the highway will not lead to an improvement in engineering, but to a limit of. general speed of 55 mph.

“Worth it if it saves the planet”.

I can hear it now.