25 Red Flags Before Buying a Green EV
By Mark Schwendau
WASHINGTON: Electric vehicles (EVs) are Joe Biden and the liberals’ answer to climate change. It is part of AOC’s “New Green Deal”. The problem is EVs are not all that efficient and to think they do not leave a carbon footprint is as stupid as the woman who once went viral on the Internet saying, “I don’t need any farmers. I get my food from the grocery store.”
The problem is experts state that there are an estimated 275 million vehicles on the road in America and only 2.5 of those are EVs. Experts agree if just 1 million more EVs were now added to replace gas engine vehicles, they would crash our electric power grid.
Two other major issues involved with EVs, as far as the public is concerned, are they are comparatively high cost ($50,000-60,000) and have a low driving range between recharges (less than 300 miles). But here we note many other issues these vehicles have that most new car buyers are not even aware of. For EVs to replace gas engine vehicles they will need to function with many of the same capabilities and as of now, they do not. Both petroleum and lithium have a finite amount of availability on the earth which means sooner or later, both are going to run out.
This fact should be our main motivation to look for better modes of transportation, not climate change.
For those who have studied and thought critically about the transportation problem, finite resources of renewable fuels, and climate, many believe hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) vehicles are the best answer for the future. The Toyota Mirai is one such vehicle available right now for around $50,000. This vehicle takes hydrogen from a fuel tank and mixes it with air entering from the intake grille meeting in a Fuel Cell Stack. Inside there, a chemical reaction involving the oxygen in the air and hydrogen fuel creates electricity. The only by-product is water. Other vehicles like the Toyota Mirai are the Tesla Model S, Honda Clarity, and Hyundai Nexo. All three of these vehicles offer a range greater than the 300-mile electric vehicle range before refueling with hydrogen. The EVs require downtime for recharging where the HFC vehicles do not. The problem with switching America over to HFC vehicles is we lack the infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations right now.
25: EV Tax Credits and Government Subsidies
Whether you like EVs or not you, as an American taxpayer, are helping to promote them. On the front end of the deal, manufacturers get government subsidies to produce them while on the rear end of the deal customers get tax credits to buy them.
It has been said that the average American would not even consider purchasing a Hybrid or EV vehicle without the government picking up some of the tabs of making these vehicles upfront.
24: EV Cabin Climate Control
Heating and cooling the occupants of an EV will cost you range off the battery. For example, for those who live in the cold climates of the north, it is important to be warm as you travel in the cold. An EV has an electric heater that draws off of the battery. A gas engine vehicle uses the heat of the engine to heat the vehicle so no electricity is required other than a small amount for the fan to move it through the vehicle cabin. A logical question comes up; How long will an EV battery last in bumper-to-bumper traffic in a large city such as Chicago in the middle of winter with the outside temperature below freezing?
23: Electric Vehicles Can be Deadly Quiet
The first time I was ever almost hit by a car was a Tesla backing up at a trade show! It is to be noted this was one of the very first models for sale as Elon Musk was just getting started. Back then one could not hear an electric car rolling silently on the carpet. Since 2019, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has required EVs to make noise when they are traveling slower than 18.6 miles per hour. Back in 2014, the television news magazine show “60 Minutes” got into some hot water when they dubbed engine noises and a downshift over the Tesla Model S running footage. The show later claimed it was an editing error.
Another factor that makes EVs deadly is first responders need to know how to work with them at accident scenes. Early models caused some firefighters to get electrocuted as they worked to extricate trapped victims in EVs. Fire science courses are now taught how to react to EV accidents based on information provided by manufacturers.
22: Lithium is a Mineral Fuel, Not a Fossil Fuel
Lithium is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal that is both highly reactive and flammable. It is an essential mineral for “Li-ion” batteries because of its low electrode potential and low atomic mass. This gives it a high charge and power-to-weight ratio making these types of batteries more compact and powerful than previous rechargeable batteries. While lithium is not categorized as a fossil fuel comprised of dead plants and animals of the past, it is categorized as a limited mineral. Lithium comes with an energy-intensive mining process whereby the extraction process itself may reduce the potential climate benefits when it comes to its role in minimizing harmful emissions.
The US Geological Survey reports the world’s most lithium-rich countries are Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Australia, and China but some were recently found in the State of Maine.
21: Lithium Batteries Are Toxic as Waste and Can Be Dangerous
Poor handling of lithium batteries during the end-of-life cycle related to storage and disposal can increase risks such as fire and poisoning. While lithium-ion battery recycling is starting to become a widespread practice (even though it is a difficult process), there are few recycling centers around the nation. Furthermore, only about 50% of these types of batteries are recyclable. EV batteries are though. Concerns are threefold; Some metals in lithium-ion batteries are toxic to the environment. Lithium ion batteries are toxic to humans when broken or damaged. Lithium ion batteries can create a potential fire hazard.
20: Lithium Batteries are Expensive to Replace
Batteries degrade over time as a result of a phenomenon called “calendar aging.” Battery degradation is dependent on variables such as time but also temperature and use. Batteries do not like heat as much as cold. If an EV battery is within its manufacturer’s warranty, typically 8 years and 100,000 miles, then you should get a replacement battery at no extra cost. But as time goes on, the range of the vehicle drops from the widely stated 300 miles which many find annoying. To replace the battery can cost anywhere from 25% to 35% of the retail cost of the vehicle. Experts claim the costs range between $10,000-$25,000 in American dollars. EV owners are warned not to perform this maintenance themselves.
19: Charging Station Network
Like any new technology such as gas-powered vehicles 100 years ago, a network of refueling stations needs to be developed around the nation. That said we are seeing more and more charging stations added to America every day. But those living in rural America will be lagging with this development the same way they were with high-speed Internet. For those who live in these parts of the country, an electric vehicle won’t be a practical option anytime soon.
This year 2022 the Biden Administration announced nearly $5 billion over five years to help states create a network of EV charging stations if the states meet certain conditions.
18: EVs are Heavy
EVs are heavier than gas-powered vehicles. Because EVs use a massive battery to power them, these batteries can weigh thousands of pounds. There are exceptions to this observation. The Tesla Roadster was amazingly lighter for its form and function.
17: No DIY Repairs
The auto mechanics of the past have given way to the automotive technicians of today. Electronic measuring machines similar to what is hooked up to our human bodies in hospitals are becoming more and more the norm to “diagnose” vehicle problems. The idea of the “grease monkey” is rapidly being replaced by the “computer geek” with the care of today’s EVs. Many Americans have had the ability to perform routine maintenance on their own vehicles for independence leading to the personal satisfaction of achievement. Of course, the original intention was to save a little money doing it yourself (DIY). But, when it comes to maintaining or repairing your own EV, you won’t be doing it yourself.
16: The Range Is Less Than 300 Miles
Many EVs are sold with the dealer telling you the vehicle has a range of “about 300 miles”. A more complete sentence and honest sales pitch would be, “The car will have a range of about 300 miles when the car and its battery are new.” Thus the range of the EV will be better suited for those living in urban areas using the vehicle to run errands around town than those living in rural remote areas. EV drivers have to carefully plan their trips ahead of time and know where to find charging stations. It has been reported many EV drivers fear not being able to find a charging station and getting stuck somewhere.
15: Slow Charging Times
Charging of EV batteries has been reported as taking as little as 30 minutes to as much as 12 hours with a typical full recharge taking about 8 hours. Variables include the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point. A typical electric car (60kWh battery) charges fully during an 8-hour work shift from empty to full with a 7kW charging point.
This technology is always improving though EV car makers and government officials sold on EV technology as a good alternative to gas engine vehicles know this is a weak point in selling this technology to the public. They know that until battery technology and charging times improve, most American consumers will not buy into EV technology.
14: Rapid Charging Can Damage Batteries
Rapid charging stations around major cities in the developing EV charging network have reported instances of damaging batteries in some EVs. The intent of these rapid charging stations was to fully charge an EV in as little as 30 minutes. But when this rapid charging technology is applied to a battery it sometimes degrades the battery more rapidly too. Because of the cost of EV batteries, consumers will be both disappointed and angry if they plugged their EV car into a charging station ruins the life of their battery.
13: EV Batteries Wear Out
Back 25 years ago young people in high school were counseled that “battery engineer” would be an up-and-coming career option. Presumably, the futurists who made this prediction saw electric cars coming and knew that the battery technology was not up to par for the need. It is said the average gasoline engine vehicle has a lifespan of 140,000 miles. Because of the newness of EV technology, no data has been gathered yet to say what their lifespan will be for them. On top of that, no side-by-side comparisons have been done to compare the overall costs of ownership with each of the two types of vehicles. It is suspected the cost of ownership of EVs will be significantly higher than gas engine vehicles when such a study is done.
The reliability of a vehicle is one of the most important factors in the problem of transportation. Electric vehicles are still new and there hasn’t been much proven about them when it comes to reliability.
12: High Price Tag
Many EVs cost more upfront than many gas engine vehicles. This sticker shock can be a deterrent to many consumers. The government provides a tax break of $7,500 to EV customers for qualifying EV new vehicle purchases. The EV price tag makes the EV about the same as a luxury gas engine vehicle. When your goal is affordable transportation, you aren’t looking to spend the price of a Cadillac or Lincoln.
Some manufacturers were cognizant of this problem and tried to respond with more scaled-down models but they did not seem to take hold in the market.
11: Fire Hazard
There have been reports of electric cars catching on fire. Some of these fires were the result of accidents but some of them were simply the result of charging them. Because EVs are all Lithium electric, the incidents of fire are higher than the average gas engine vehicle. Some people charge their EVs out in their driveway rather than in an attached garage of their home as a JIC (Just In Case).
Prospective buyers may want to check a vehicle’s track record before committing to purchase.
Just this month of June (2022) a news report came out about a Tesla S that caught fire in an auto salvage yard. According to a report issued by Metro Fire of Sacramento, their firefighters recently experienced their first EV fire at an auto salvage yard. The vehicle was totaled in a previous accident.
10: Poor Acceleration
Tesla may have been the leader in the EV market but the other big name brands have since entered the field. The technology has come a long way but one of the first criticisms of all the EVs was their lack of pickup sometimes measured as to how fast a vehicle can go from 0-60 mph. EV makers heard this complaint and responded. Performance-wise, most electric cars are quite fast nowadays.
A Tesla Model S Plaid is one of the fastest EVs with a claimed 0-60 mph time of 1.99 seconds. Most other models of all manufacturers come in between 2 to 3 seconds.
9: Lack of Availability
EVs are still a relatively new concept with the technology improving rapidly from year to year. What this can mean is at times the supply does not meet the demand. This means that finding an EV you desire may not be as easy as you think. Tesla only builds dealerships in large metropolitan areas. Other dealerships to come into the EV market after Tesla is said to maintain a low inventory of EVs.
The Rivian pickup truck is another example of an EV that might be hard to get. Rivian entered into an agreement with Amazon for $2.5 billion in funding. As a result, Amazon will be acquiring 100,000 electric vans which mean consumers may be in for a long wait before they get a shot at ownership of this vehicle. It is to be noted that other pickup trucks are also available in EV form from companies such as Ford, Chevrolet, and Tesla.
9: Lack of Service Centers
As mentioned before, there is no longer much in the way of DIY repairs or maintenance that can be done on EVs. The vehicles require specially trained technicians in service schools of the manufacturers. Most automotive repair businesses won’t touch these vehicles as they know their limits. To deal with EVs requires a special knowledge base, sometimes special tools, as well as certification are required to do the work. The cost of maintenance and repairs on these vehicles either in or out of warranty is reported as higher than usual.
8: Engineering Architectural Changes
The nation’s power grid may not be able to handle millions of EVs charging in the future and require additional engineering of the power grid. The EV concept is relatively new in the last 20 years. Electric power companies in the country have to change and adapt to this lifestyle change as it becomes more prevalent.
Similarly, existing homes were not built with dedicated charging station lines to their garages or outside driveways. If you live in a rental property or condominium, you may not have a say in such a required building modification without cooperation from the landlord or condominium owner’s association.
The same way the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now has concerns about lithium batteries in flight, architects will now have to show that same concern for EVs housed in garages.
7: High Electric Bills
If you are thinking going to an electric vehicle will end your high gasoline prices and you will be money ahead in the end, think harder. Whether you are charging the vehicle in your home, or on your credit card at a charging station out in public you are going to pay more per mile in the long run. What you make up for in the price of gasoline will be offset by your increased charges for electricity. Even at 5 bucks a gallon, owning and driving an EV is going to cost you more.
6: Limited Cargo Capacity
EVs are known for their limited cargo capacity. The massive size of the battery takes up a good portion of the trunk and/or engine bay. In some models of crossover or hybrid-style vehicles, this is less of an issue but then again, those are not strictly EVs.
5: Climate Change and Carbon Footprint
Whether you consider electric generation by coal, nuclear, solar, or wind, all leave their mark on the earth. The concern about fossil fuel burning generation electric plants is carbon emissions in the air. The concern of nuclear generation electric plants is a nuclear waste cannot be recycled and will live on as a contaminant for at least 4000 years. The concern for solar-generated electric farms is there is new evidence that indicates that solar panels themselves contribute to global warming with reflected heat off of the panels. Finally, the concern with wind electric generating turbine farms is the turbines are not recyclable and are being buried in their own landfills. All of these methods generate pollutants that have not been fully addressed or understood long term.
4: EVs Produce Zero Emissions is a Lie!
While an EV doesn’t burn fossil fuel or put out emissions into the atmosphere, the power for the vehicle is generated by methods of electricity generation that do produce emissions as noted previously. To date, the majority of electric power still comes from burning fossil fuels in America. To say an AV produces zero emissions is a lie. The emissions to make your electricity were made before your trip begins.
2: EVs Resale Value is Questionable
Just like other electronic products, such as televisions and computers, the technology is evolving which means an EV you buy today as state-of-the-art technology could be outdated just two or three years down the road. Right now the demand for used gas engine vehicles is at an all-time high as the younger generation struggles to get into slightly older reliable transportation at a price point they can afford. This trend may soon carry over to EV models as well.
1: EV Parts are in Short Supply
Because of the newness of the technology, EV parts can be difficult to come by. This is a serious drawback for somebody looking for reliable transportation who needs to get back on the road as rapidly as possible.
Conclusion: Whether climate change is man-made or naturally occurring is being debated in the scientific community globally. What is most interesting though is a new debate is now raging that even if the amount of carbon dioxide is increasing in the world due to man’s “carbon footprint”, this is actually a good thing as plants breathe carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Once scientists recently lamented how the South American rainforests are coming back with such a vengeance, they are overgrowing paved roads! The entire matter is as confusing as it is humorous.
The bottom line though is to think before you buy when it comes to an EV. To me, electric vehicles would be better for those who live in large urban areas where destinations are closer together than those who live in rural areas where we have to drive long distances to accomplish our tasks.
Mark S. Schwendau is a retired technology professor who has always had a sideline of news editorial writing where his byline has been, “Bringing little known news to people who simply want to know the truth.” He classifies himself as a Christian conservative who God cast to be a realist. Mark is an award-winning educator who has published 7 books and numerous peer-reviewed trade journal articles some of which can be found on the Internet. His father was a fireman/paramedic while his mother was a registered nurse. He holds multiple degrees in technology education, industrial management, OSHA Safety, and Driver’s Education. His personal website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech.