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Electric car facts: EV myths busted

Written By Andy Brady

Electric car facts: EV myths busted

What are the facts when it comes to buying and owning an electric car? With so much inaccurate information spoken about EVs we’re here to help with our expert myth-busting guide.

We polled 2000 drivers to find out what misinformation was being spread about EVs, and we found that 74% of those surveyed said their understanding around electric cars was shaky. Perhaps that’s no surprise when we found that social media and the pub were the top two places where people got their information from. 

Worries about the practicality and cost of EVs were the biggest concern understandably. Fears around how much does it cost to charge an electric car, the range of an EV, how expensive they are and if they’re reliable are all major misconceptions. 

To help sort the EV facts from fiction, we’ve created this electric car facts guide where we debunk all of those incorrect EV myths. 

Audi Q4 e-tron Review 2024: exterior dynamic
Most electric cars can now travel more than 200 miles between charges, while a range of 300 miles or more is becoming increasingly common.

Myth 1: Electric range isn't good enough

Reality: Worried about running out of electricity when driving an electric vehicle? You're not alone - range anxiety is a big obstacle that stops a lot of people buying an electric car.

But, as technology progresses, the range of an electric car is becoming less of an issue. Most electric cars can now travel more than 200 miles between charges, while a range of 300 miles or more is becoming increasingly common. The average UK car commute is a round trip of around 20 miles - so, if you're using your car just for commuting, you might only need to charge it once every 10 days.

And what about those occasions when you need to travel further? There are now more than 53,000 charging locations in the UK with 81,000 charging points. Many of these are rapid chargers, capable of boosting an EV's battery from 10% to 80% in just half an hour. So all you need to do is stop for coffee every 200 miles or so and an electric vehicle is just as capable at travelling long distances as a petrol or diesel car.

Myth 2: Electric cars are too expensive

Reality: Around 80% of car buyers state that the purchase cost of an EV is stopping them going electric and there's no denying that the list price of a brand new electric car is usually more expensive than an equivalent petrol or diesel car. That's because you're paying some of the development costs - EVs are still relatively new technology - while government incentives to buy new EVs have now been dropped.

There are exceptions, though. The latest Chinese electric cars are undercutting mainstream competitors, with the MG4 EV - as an example - priced from around £27,000 (about the same as the most affordable Volkswagen Golf). Tesla, meanwhile, recently shocked the market by drastically reducing prices on its electric vehicles.

And you can save a lot of money by searching for a used electric car on heycar. A budget of just £12,000 gets you a choice of two-year-old electric city cars, such as the excellent SEAT Mii Electric or Renault Zoe - all with low miles and a transferrable manufacturer warranty.

Myth 3: Electric cars cost more to run

Reality: With sky high electricity costs and petrol prices falling to the lowest level in years, you might question the sanity of swapping your petrol or diesel car for an EV. But doing so will save you money.

As an example, an electric Volkswagen ID.3 Pure Performance with the 45kWh battery pack will cost you around 6.7p per mile in electricity (based on charging at home with a tariff of 27p per kWh). An equivalent Volkswagen Golf (with the 150PS 1.5 TSI petrol engine) will cost 17.9p per mile (based on petrol costing £1.43/litre).

That means, if you cover 10,000 miles a year, your annual electricity bill to power a Volkswagen ID.3 will be around £670. A petrol Volkswagen Golf will cost you around £1790 in petrol each year. And that's before we look at other savings - such as servicing costs, road tax (which is currently free for EVs) and congestion charges.

Myth 4: Charging an electric car is inconvenient

Reality: The easiest way of charging an electric car is by plugging it in at home. You can have a typical 7kW home wallbox fitted for around £1000 and it'll be able to fully charge the average EV in around eight or nine hours - perfect for an overnight top-up. This is something most electric car drivers soon get into the habit of - it's just like plugging your phone in overnight, and it's less of a faff than visiting a petrol station.

If you need a quicker charge (or can't charge a car at home), EV rapid chargers are springing up at motorway service stations and dedicated EV charging sites - capable of providing a significant boost in as little as 20 minutes. You'll pay a premium for these (up to 85p per kWh) but it'll still work out cheaper than fuelling many petrol or diesel cars.

EV rapid chargers can top up the battery on your electric car in as little as 20 minutes.

Myth 5: Batteries on EVs need to be changed every two years or less

Reality: Anyone who's owned a smartphone will know that batteries degrade over time - and more than a third of respondents to our survey said they thought EV batteries would need to be replaced every two years or less.

That's not the case, though. Most manufacturers will provide a warranty of at least eight years or 100,000 miles for the battery - that's much longer than you'd get for any significant part of a petrol or diesel car. And we're finding that early electric car batteries are lasting significantly longer than this - as an example, the Nissan Leaf has been on sale since 2011 and most examples are still on their original battery.

Myth 6: EVs are more susceptible to breaking down

Reality: While many drivers worry that the complex nature of electric vehicles makes them more likely to break down, they're less likely to go wrong than a conventional petrol or diesel car. That's because combustion-engined cars rely on a complicated mix of mechanical parts working together. You only need one of these to go wrong (and, with time, it will...) to leave you stranded on the motorway and facing an expensive bill.

On an electric car, you don't need to worry about iffy spark plugs or a failed cambelt. There aren't any fluids to top up (apart from the screenwash) and the regenerative braking system (which uses the electric motor to slow down) means even the brakes should last longer. There are very few parts to an electric car that can fail, while consumer motoring website HonestJohn.co.uk receives very few reports of issues involving electric vehicles. In fact, in its latest ownership satisfaction survey, two pure-electric vehicles (the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Kia e-Niro) made the top five most dependable cars to own.

Myth 7: Electric cars are more likely to set on fire

Reality: Several high-profile car fires have been incorrectly attributed to electric vehicles. Remember the hysteria around the Luton airport car park fire that led to speculation that it was caused by an electric car? Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service were quick to confirm that it was actually started by a diesel car, but that didn't stop rumours spreading quickly across social media.

In reality, an electric car is no more likely to go up in flames than a petrol or diesel car - if anything, it's even less likely to spark a fire. This is supported by figures from Sweden, where electric vehicles account for around half of all cars registered each year. Data from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency reveals that there were just 23 fires involving electric vehicles in the country in 2022 - compared to around 3400 petrol or diesel car fires.

To understand why that is, it's important to look at the science behind car fires. Electric vehicles can go up in flames if cells within the batteries are damaged and overheat. But this rarely happens - and, as the figures suggest, you're much more likely to be involved in a car fire when driving a vehicle that's carrying a tank full of highly flammable fuel (such as petrol).