For years, critics derided the impracticalities of electric vehicles. Now, the tables are starting to turn
Electric vehicles are usually considered to be limiting compared to their gas counterparts. The range is too short; it cover cover your daily commute, but it can’t complete your summer trip to the mountains. And even if you dared attempt it, the frequent charging stops would add many hours to your itinerary. And of course, good luck finding a charging station. These factor are clearly an important barrier to electric vehicle adoption: in a recent survey of US adults, 61 percent of people cited range as a top consideration in choosing an electric car, while 43 percent chose charging infrastructure and 36 percent recharge time.
While it’s fair to say this was the case in the early stages of electric cars, it’s no longer true. Recently, Hyundai announced the specs for the new Ioniq 5 (pictured above), which will begin deliveries later this year. The specs were highly impressive: while the range has yet to be officially certified, it is estimated to be nearly 300 miles (~475 km) per charge. Yet, that’s perhaps not even the best part. In just 18 minutes, the car can charge from 10% to 80% — adding more than 200 miles (~330 km) of range.
So how does that look on your average road trip? According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average long distance trip (defined as a destination more than 50 miles from home) is 194 miles (312 km). Meaning that given you set out with close to a full charge, you won’t have to stop at all on-route.
But let’s say you’re going much further — a trip of 400 miles (644 km). At a fairly typical highway speed of 75 mph (120 km/h), this trip would take you about 5 hours and 20 minutes of driving time. A trip of this distance would require a charging stop, though most owners of gas vehicles would likely stop to fill their tank as well. If a typical fueling and bathroom stop takes 5–10 minutes, driving the Ioniq 5 adds only about ten minutes to a 5+ hour trip. Not so bad.
None of this matters if you can’t find a conveniently placed fast charger though. Yet, this is now less of an issue than ever.
A map of Europe looks even more encouraging. While there certainly was a time when fast charging stations were difficult to find (and often limited to lower charging speeds when you did find them), North America now has thousands stretched across the most frequently travelled highways. While it’s true that dead spots still exist (particularly on the backwater routes less travelled), this is becoming less of an issue each day as more charging stations come online.
While the Ioniq 5 is impressive, it’s not the only offering with such impressive specs. The best-selling Tesla Model 3 has even better 353 mile range (568 km), though with slightly slower charging speeds. An increasingly large number of electric cars are offering long ranges combined with impressive charging speeds. Over the coming years, electric vehicle manufacturers will begin to offer ranges that eclipse even most gas cars.
While the inconvenience of an electric car is now fairly minimal, long distance trips still aren’t their strength. When it comes to your everyday routine, electric vehicles beat gas cars handily. If you have a charging option at home or at work, there is no need to go out of your way for special trips to fuel your vehicle. Consumer Reports has found that the typical electric vehicle owner would make about six stops per year at public stations. In total, it actually seems that owning a gas car will cost you more of your time. For those of us in winter climates, less time in the cold refueling is a nice benefit.
And of course, the simplicity of electric motors requires less maintenance; meaning fewer trips to the mechanic for oil changes and other other maintenance. These savings likely amount to about $300 per year for the average driver.