Why does an electric vehicle (EV) get better mileage in summer than in winter? Why does an EV lose range when driving fast on the Interstates as compared to slower on two-lane highways? Why does an ICEV internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) get better mileage on the highway compared to city driving?
Let’s try a simple thought experiment: Say your main vehicle was a ten-wheel dump truck. Would you expect that a trip downtown and back to buy a newspaper would take less fuel than the same trip to pick up a bag of concrete? Probably not noticeable, wouldn’t you say? In fact, it does cost a significant amount more energy to move the concrete bag back home than to move the paper; but that extra amount of fuel for the concrete is dwarfed to insignificance by the massive amount of fuel required to just get the 12-ton vehicle there and back.
Similarly, an ICE car is about 24% efficient overall; an electric car is about 91%. So, given the comparatively small amount of energy used by the EV, increased energy needs for heavy loads, or fighting wind resistance at high speed, or even cold weather driving become noticeable and, since we’ve come to ignore ICEV energy wastefulness, it’s irritating. Likewise, cell phone reception is horrible; but there are other considerations that have made them, over time, preferable to landlines for many of us.
ICEVs also suffer losses from wind resistance and colder weather, but they’re hardly noticeable, even hidden, when compared to their overall wastefulness and horrendous stop and go and idling losses. ICEV engines run and pollute even when your car is stopped at a light, in traffic, and drive-throughs. This is not the case for EVs.
ICEVs carry a lot of extra weight and complexity, therefore, using and wasting a lot of energy to deal with excess heat, friction and noise. EVs use a little extra energy to heat and cool the cabin and have no noise suppression needs. During acceleration, ICEVs struggle and get very poor mileage. Acceleration affects EV energy use relatively little. ICEVs need transmissions because their operating efficiencies and abilities lie within a very small RPM range. EVs need no shifting transmission, because they can operate at full torque from one RPM up through 15,000 RPM.
ICEVs have about 2,300 moving parts in their drive trains. EVs have about 23. ICEVs need constant monitoring, maintenance, and replacement and repair of their drive train parts throughout their short lives. EVs commonly need no drivetrain maintenance beyond brake pads (and even those last longer than ICEV’s). ICEVs need seasonal maintenance and preparation. EVs only need windshield washer antifreeze, winter wipers and tires.
Car fires per 100,000 cars: ICEV 1,530; Hybrid 3,475; EV 25. ICEV 60 times as likely, hybrid 120 times as likely to catch fire as an EV! bit.ly/kbb-fire and bit.ly/ct-gsuv-fire. Hybrids are NOT a “bridge” to EVs (except emotionally); they contain the worst of both worlds: bit.ly/ct-phev-fake (see last 3 paragraphs).
Charging is difficult: For just our family and the neighbors we know personally in Central VT, our EVs go to Quebec City, Ohio, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Ann Arbor, MI, and Boston. Might you be willing to spend another 40 minutes at a service area every few hours on a trip in order to halt your car’s contributions to deaths and injuries of people and the environment?
Mining the raw materials and manufacturing EVs is detrimental to the environment and indigenous peoples: Absolutely. But FAR less than for gasmobiles. When fuel is also considered, the balance is tipped to vertical bit.ly/ct-ev-source].
Why are car manufacturers pushing ICEVs so hard right now? Why are dealerships so reluctant to show off (or be honest about) EVs? As Upton Sinclair said, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it.” When an EV leaves a dealership, they know that it’s not the oft-returning cash cow that an ICEV would be.
A variation of Sinclair’s observation can also explain why fossil fuel companies and some ICEV owners’ strain so hard to protect their own status quo. If one doesn’t want to face the unknowns of switching, then rationalizing with anti-EV myths helps: bit.ly/ct-uk-myths (see sidebar, too.)
It is a mistake to only apply the typical assessment and cost analysis strategies we developed during the ICEV years. For example, one would then be ignoring that ICEVs are far more dangerous as well as worse for everyone’s health and the environment than EVs; or, one would be assuming that somehow all of the damage done by continuing to run ICEVs will somehow disappear when one finally does stop.
Buying a used EV is more like buying a used book than buying a used ICEV. Of course, you want to kick the tires, check out the appearance all around and inside, but wondering about whether the engine oil was changed regularly, how much the engine or transmission was abused, how soon the exhaust system might need replacement – these considerations no longer apply. We’ve bought used LEAFs. Checking out the current health of the battery is quite easy; www.LeoSons.com in Lawrence, MA will do it for free!
In Vermont you can reduce the upfront cost of purchasing a new EV by as much as $13,000 thanks to federal tax credits and local incentives. As recently stated by a local engineer on his town’s listserv, “I’m driving a 2020 Chevy Bolt, and I love it. I have 40,000 miles on it without a hiccup. The federal tax credit and utility incentives got it under $25,000. It is a great car. Quick, smooth, quiet, steady, 260-mile range. I’ll never go back to gas power. Now when I occasionally have to drive a gas car it feels like driving farm machinery.” bit.ly/devt-compare
EVs cost more because they’re worth so much more, to you! Review the past few years of your gasmobile’s maintenance, repair, and fuel costs; then compare that to an EV’s lack of maintenance and repair and low fuel costs, as well as its MUCH higher resale or trade-in value. Consider shifting some of that wallet-bleeding up front to the initial cost of the car. Use Efficiency Vermont’s cost of ownership tool to see the long-term savings that can come with an electric car: bit.ly/devt-tco. Our own EVs have needed only tires, wipers, fluid and electrons over these past seven years.
For most people home charging compares to $1.50pergallon of gas. But you say you can’t afford a Level 2 (L2) charger at home? We personally have owned EVs for seven years – only EVs for three – and we charge from a regular 20A 120VAC wall socket with 16A Level 1 (L1) “trickle” chargers. Many EV owners all over the world have no at-home charging available, due to living in condos and apartments. They fuel up at work, while shopping, or at a station (like ICEVs). We almost never charge away from home, except on long trips. A 16A Level 1 charger will give you three to five mph (miles every hour); so overnight will supply 35 to 60 miles depending on temperatures and speed when driving.
However, L2 chargers are becoming easier to install and more flexible. For homes with small, low amperage main panels, there’s the www.dccelectric.com/dcc-12/; for long or expensive-to-access sites there’s the bit.ly/mtr-charger; for quickie “let’s share the existing electric dryer socket” people there’s the bit.ly/dryer-charger. These are just examples; contact your EV charger experts for more help.
You can, like us, also run your house off your EV for several days during a power outage then drive your EV somewhere where there’s power for a recharge. A typical 65 kWh EV holds as much power as five 13 kWh Tesla PowerWalls, and is more portable. Running a gas generator during an outage is like opening your fridge door to cool your house. The pollution only further aggravates the climate crisis while poisoning your air.
ICEVs as a class are already losing value fast. EVs lose so little value over time that Tesla and Ford aren’t allowing lessors to buy out their EV leases any longer. The cars don’t wear out like ICEVs do; the batteries last far longer than originally expected and can be repurposed, or fully and cheaply recycled (bit.ly/ct-eolb, bit.ly/ct-ev-batt). Right now, three-year-old Kia Niro EVs exactly like ours are listed at 90% to 105% of what we paid originally (bit.ly/ct-ev-tips3).
The point is EVs aren’t just a stepwise improvement. It’s more like moving from horses to cars. A hybrid would be like towing a horse and trailer behind your car in case you ran out of gas. EVs offer improved efficiency, safety, fuel, emissions, reliability, longevity, resale value and total costs. Oh yeah, range anxiety is a real thing! But we all get over it, some sooner than others.
The Whitchurches drive only EVs and use induction cooking in their Net Zero+ Middlesex, Vermont Passive House. Search “whitchurch ev” on www.greenenergytimes.org to learn more.
Great article. I get so much satisfaction from my Chevy Bolt.