- Published: Monday, 11 December 2017 13:20
Here are five things most people get wrong about electric vehicles (EVs)
There’s a revolution coming to the world of mobility, and you may not have heard it. In fact you may not have even smelt it either. That’s because electric vehicles only emit a quiet whirr and don't emit any local pollution as they glide past.
You probably already know about the existence of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) from BMW, since BMW is the first carmaker in Singapore to offer a full range of EVs and PHEVs from its BMW i and BMW iPerformance Automobiles range of models.
But like any new technology and progressive steps forward, change takes time, and there’s often plenty of scope for misconceptions and mistrust along the way. You’ve probably also heard a few things about EVs/PHEVs (collectively known as electrified vehicles), and just as it is with the new and unfamiliar, many of those things can be half-truths or flat out wrong.
Here are five of the commonest things we’ve heard about electrified vehicles that simply aren’t true.
Myth 1: EV batteries surely need replacement
The plug-in hybrid system of the BMW 225xe
A popular misconception we’ve heard about electrified vehicles is that their batteries will go kaput after a short while. How did this mistaken idea come about? Possibly because people like to use smartphones as an analogy - with all the abuse of numerous charge cycles, overcharging and temperatures, smartphone batteries tend to drop off in performance after a few years, or even less.
The same is resolutely not true of electrified vehicles. Without going too deep into the science, batteries are like people: Regular routine, without extremes of charging/discharging and fluctuations in temperature all keep them happy.
A key difference between a smartphone and an EV is that the latter has been specifically engineered for long life and performance. The BMW i3 EV for instance, has advanced cooling and battery management systems on board so the lithium-ion cells are always kept in a ‘happy’ state.
Experts on the subject have said that EV batteries can last as long as 20 years or more, which is impressive given the average expected lifetime for a car, globally, is now eight years.
Far smarter - and longer lasting - than a smartphone: BMW's iPerformance Automobiles are plug-in hybrids built for the very long run
Confidence in its technology is why BMW issues a six-year, 100,000km battery warranty for all of its PHEVs, while the batteries of the BMW i3 and i8 have eight-year, 100,000km warranties.
It’s also worth noting the cars themselves also have better-than-industry-standard five-year, 200,000km warranties, which are longer than the standard three-year warranty for a regular car.
Finally, some conventional (i.e. non-plug-in) hybrids have battery warranties that last for 10 years. This is because the battery technology may be different, and because conventional hybrids do not have a significant electric-only range.
To conclude, yes, the batteries of an electrified vehicle will ‘surely’ need to be replaced - but you can say that same thing about literally ever part of a gasoline-powered car as well.
Myth 2: EVs and PHEVs are dull to drive
The BMW i8 might be the poster child for fun, electrified driving, but all of BMW's iPerformance cars have extra electric kick that makes them great to drive. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it!
This myth probably comes about as a result of the popular idea of a hybrid car: Frugal, environmentally-aware, good for the environment, but about as exciting as sorting rubbish for recycling.
While numbers often don’t tell the whole story, they do reflect a strong trend here: If we look at BMW’s iPerformance cars in Singapore, namely the 225xe, 330e, 530e and 740Le xDrive, most of them are quicker in the 0-100km/h sprint than their internal combustion-only equivalents.
Electric motors generate instant torque, which is why EVs and PHEVs are so much fun to drive: Hit the gas and they go like nothing else. That’s the same reason the humble i3 is almost as quick from 0 to 60km/h than a BMW M4 high-performance coupe.
Electric boost lets the BMW 225xe iPerformance crack 0-100km/h in only 6.7 seconds
And anyone who thinks electrified cars don’t mean electrifying performance obviously hasn’t laid his or her eyes on the BMW i8: It’s the sort of machine that tells you almost everything you need to know about how it drives in one glance.
Of course we can tell you all about it, but experiencing it yourself is another thing altogether. Why not head down to the BMW showroom, consult a Product Genius to find the perfect EV/PHEV for you, then go for a test drive? We double dare you, because you might be shocked.
Myth 3: EVs/PHEVs will only make my bills bigger
A BMW 530e iPerformance doesn't cost much more than a normal 530i in Singapore, and is cheaper to run no matter how far you drive
Super-advanced cutting-edge technology means super-advanced, cutting-edge bills, right?
In a word, no. At least in the case of BMW’s iPerformance cars.
According to the Land Transport Authority figures, the daily average distance for a Singaporean driver is 50km, but most of us do far less. Assuming you live less than 20km from your office, driving the BMW 530e iPerformance will cost you only $0.606 a day in ‘fuel’, or roughly $221.19 a year. That’s less than it costs to run two medium-sized refrigerators.**
Take the 530e iPerformance as an example again: It costs almost exactly as much as the BMW 530i Luxury, and is cheaper than the BMW 530i M Sport. So overall, they’re just as affordable as the regular cars, and can be far cheaper to run - which leads to our next point.
*EMA electricity tariff of $0.203/kWh Oct-Dec 2017.
**Hitachi R-S700P2MS 595-litre capacity, 544kWh annual consumption
Myth 4: Servicing costs for an electrified vehicle are higher
This one’s quite easy to explain: It’s the bane of early adopters that new technology might break down or be costly to service/replace.
For PHEVs like the BMW iPerformance range, given average, non-extreme usage, they utilise their combustion engines less often since they have an alternative source of energy. Using the electric motors for braking regeneration also means the conventional brakes work less hard.
It’s even more extreme for an EV like the i3: It’s not unheard of that real, Singaporean owners of the i3 come in for regular service and need nothing replaced. No engine, no conventional cooling system, less use of conventional brakes all means less wear and tear items and none of the usual fluids needed for service.
|Gasoline-powered car regular service items
And since we’ve already busted the myth that EV batteries aren’t reliable or trustworthy, it’s a strong possibility that the owner of a BMW iPerformance vehicle who uses the car for urban commuting could pay far less in average upkeep costs than for an equivalent combustion engine model.
Myth 5: An EV/PHEV just isn’t 'worth' it
Those who don’t know would say: “Why not just get a conventional car - a EV/PHEV just isn’t worth it!”
By this point, you’re probably already thinking differently, as we’ve discovered that it’s not about bare financial sense when it comes to ‘worthiness’ of EVs/PHEVs. And now, the question of whether or not an EV/PHEV is ‘worth it’, is the same as it is for any car : What do you, the owner, value?
Do you value the idea that convention has to be followed, even if it’s logically proven that an alternative means can do things just as, if not better?
Do you believe that it’s possible to have luxury and performance in a desirable automobile, but one that acknowledges sustainability and gives the owner efficient running costs?
It’s true that an electrified vehicle may not be for everyone. But now that we’ve cleared up the big myths surrounding them, you may find that the many benefits of BMW’s iPerformance and BMW i models are in fact perfect for you.