13 Harsh Realities Electric Vehicle (EV) Owners Face Silently

The last ten years have seen a boom in electric vehicles (EVs), attracting drivers with cool perks like zero emissions and enhanced performance. But there are less talked-about ‘harsh’ truths about this green revolution.

The High Cost of Going Electric

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Switching to electric vehicles involves a higher upfront vehicle cost and also increased ongoing expenses. In 2023, the average new car price was pegged at $48,000, while EVs stood at an average of $60,000. This price differential means additional costs in financing, which escalates further when you factor in higher insurance and maintenance expenses. 

Despite the availability of tax credits, the economic equation still challenges many potential buyers, making electric cars a less attractive option financially.

Repair Costs Skyrocket for Electric Vehicles


While electric vehicles promise a greener future, the reality of their maintenance costs can be quite shocking. Companies like Tesla Inc. have struggled to establish a robust service network comparable to those of traditional automakers. This gap has led to situations where even minor damages (like those to radar assemblies) can result in exorbitant repair bills. For instance, the US rental-car giant Hertz Global Holdings Inc. found themselves discarding Teslas because the cost of repairs far exceeded practical thresholds.

Moreover, a Mitchell report highlights that EV repairs demand nearly 90% of parts directly from the original manufacturers, compared to about two-thirds for gasoline vehicles. This not only boosts the cost but also complicates the repair process. The scarcity of specialized EV mechanics only exacerbates these issues, presenting a significant barrier to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

Limited Choices Deter Buyers

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The EV market is currently experiencing a bottleneck in variety. With only 40 models available as of March 2023, the options for potential EV buyers are significantly limited, especially considering the U.S. has over 232 million licensed drivers. 

Although automakers are frequently unveiling new models, it appears it will take several more years before the market can offer a diverse range of electric vehicles that caters to various consumer preferences.

Limited Range Challenges Long-Distance EV Travel

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Electric vehicles are making waves, but their range still lags behind gasoline-powered cars, posing challenges for long-distance travel. Typically, all-electric vehicles offer a driving range of about 60 to 120 miles per charge (though some high-end models boast up to 300 miles). 

In contrast, most gasoline cars can travel about 300 miles on a full tank, with some even exceeding this range. This disparity can make all-electric vehicles less suitable for lengthy journeys, especially given the current sparse distribution of charging stations. For those who frequently hit the road for longer trips, this limitation requires careful route planning to ensure accessibility to charging points, which may not yet fully support extensive travel as conveniently as gasoline stations do.

Recharging Still a Slow Process for Electric Cars


The convenience of recharging an electric car has yet to match the quick refueling times of traditional cars. For electric vehicles, fully recharging the battery using standard Level 1 or Level 2 chargers can take an exhaustive up to eighty hours, severely impacting the appeal of vehicle use. Even with fast-charging technology, achieving 80% battery capacity can take about 30 minutes. 

This requires electric car owners to plan their driving and charging sessions meticulously (particularly on longer journeys) to avoid the inconvenience of extended downtimes, which starkly contrasts with the quick stops at gas stations familiar to gasoline vehicle drivers.

Depreciation Hits EVs Harder


Electric vehicles face a steep depreciation curve, losing about 52% of their value within just three years of ownership, compared to 39% for traditional cars. 

This rapid value decline can make reselling an EV particularly challenging, offering owners a lower return on their investment. This aspect of EV ownership is often overlooked but critical for potential buyers to consider, especially when evaluating the long-term costs and benefits of going electric.

The High Cost and Complexity of Replacing EV Batteries


Replacing an electric vehicle battery is not just a simple trip to the auto parts store—it’s a significant financial and logistical challenge. While swapping out a traditional car battery might cost around $50-$200, replacing an EV battery can set you back anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000. 

This stark difference stems from the high cost of the batteries themselves and the complexity and labor involved in the replacement process. Such expenses can make EV ownership daunting, especially when considering long-term maintenance and the potential need for battery replacement after significant degradation.

A Long Road Ahead for Charging Stations


Despite governmental support and significant investments, the public charging infrastructure for EVs still leaves much to be desired. The reality hit us when the U.S. Secretary of Energy embarked on a cross-country EV road trip and encountered numerous issues with the charging stations—from scarcity to malfunctioning ports. 

Though a $100 million funding boost has been approved to enhance these facilities, the current state suggests that a considerable amount of work and time is required before the infrastructure can fully support the growing EV market.

Costly Home Charging


While the convenience of charging an electric vehicle at home may seem appealing, the reality of installing a home charging station can be daunting and expensive. 

Installation costs can range between $1,000 to $2,500, which is a significant amount compared to monthly gasoline expenses. This upfront investment adds another reason to consider EVs.

Electric Vehicles Struggle in Cold Weather

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Cold weather significantly impacts the efficiency of electric vehicles, reducing their range and performance. Consumer Reports has found that in sub-freezing conditions, the driving range of EVs can decrease by about 25% on average during highway travel. The situation worsens with frequent short trips—each stop allows the cabin to cool, demanding substantial energy to reheat upon restarting, thus doubling the range reduction. 

While modern EVs are increasingly equipped with efficient heat pump systems to mitigate these effects, they too have limitations. These systems are less effective in extreme cold, typically under 14 degrees Fahrenheit, requiring drivers to consider these conditions when planning winter travel in EVs.

Environmental and Ethical Concerns of Electric Vehicles


Electric vehicles are often touted for their environmental benefits, primarily due to their zero tailpipe emissions. However, the overall impact of EVs on the environment is less perfect than it might appear. The production of EV batteries involves the extraction of lithium and cobalt—processes associated with significant environmental degradation, pollution, and human rights abuses. 

Furthermore, EV batteries pose challenges in terms of recycling and disposal. Recent studies have even indicated that EV tires may produce 20% more particulate pollution than those of gasoline cars. 

Challenges in the Used EV Market


Finding a used electric vehicle can be a frustrating experience. Given that the technology is relatively new, there are few used EVs available on the market, which diminishes the chances of snagging a good deal. 

This scarcity affects both buyers and sellers–sellers face depreciated resale values, while buyers have limited options and little leverage to negotiate prices. For those looking for an affordable “cash car,” the likelihood of finding a budget-friendly EV is currently low, steering potential buyers toward more abundant and less expensive gas-powered vehicles.

Limited Service Options


One practical consideration when purchasing an electric vehicle is the availability of service and repair options. Unlike traditional gasoline cars, which can be serviced at numerous locations nationwide, EVs often require specialized service centers. 

This can be particularly challenging in less urbanized areas where such facilities are sparse. Additionally, because EVs are more technologically complex, the cost of even routine maintenance can be significantly higher than for conventional vehicles. This lack of convenience and the potential for high repair bills can deter potential buyers who need reliable and economical vehicle maintenance options.

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