I am very excited about electric vehicles and only more so since I've started driving one. This often leads to conversations with friends and colleagues, and in many of these conversations concerns and fears often surface. Some are loosely based on reality but many are simply myths. A pattern started to emerge, themes. Three themes in particular show up time and time again in these chats: Range, acceleration, especially on hills, and traffic jams or being stuck in slow traffic.
Most folks’ sum total knowledge about Electric Vehicles (EVs) has little basis in fact. This is not surprising, when I first became interested in EVs I too had preconceived notions. Over time I spent many hours researching the topic. I did most of my research on the Internet and found that compared to the enormous wealth of information on internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs), the amount of EV information is not as great or easy to search, and it isn’t as factual.
Range anxiety is the (often unreasonable) fear of being left stranded with a spent battery. This is probably the most common concern or fear regarding EV ownership. Due to the complexity of the topic and the variables involved it deserves its own article, so we will focus on the other two themes: Acceleration and being stuck in traffic.
Acceleration - The concerns I have heard regarding acceleration have mostly been from folks whose only EV experience is with golf carts or similar vehicles. Today's conventional EVs such as the Leaf, with 100% of the torque available off of the starting line, accelerate as well or better than most ICEs in the same car class. For example, my own 2015 Leaf takes me from 0-60mph in approximately 9.5 seconds, while Teslas achieve 60mph in 7 seconds or much less depending on model.
Traffic jams – While chatting with a friend about my Leaf on a recent visit to New Brunswick, he said that he thought the Leaf works well for me because I live in a small town. His thought was that if I lived in a larger city where I would be much more likely to encounter frequent traffic jams and therefore likely to spend significant time stuck in traffic, this would deplete the battery faster. Reality is that in this particular scenario, driving an ICE should be of greater concern because in reality one would be more likely to run out of fuel in an ICE than in an EV. This is because an EV, my Leaf for example, expends an imperceptible amount of the overall percentage of the fuel (battery), even with the AC on while intermitently stopping and moving slowly in heavy traffic. This is because there is no engine, or in an EVs case, no motor running constantly. No motor running means no energy consumption.