This is a contributed article from Kevin focused on problems with electric cars.
The new car sales of electric cars has surged, and those increases are projected to continue. Electric cars are zero-emission. They do not use fossil fuel electric cars are seen as one of the answers to combat climate change. They continue to grow in popularity as more models are released with better features and upgrades.
However, electric cars are not without their share of problems. There are some common and known problems with them.. This can also give you an idea if you bought an electric car was a lemon.
Over the past few years, it was determined that vehicles in the United States are the most significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Vehicles are thought to contribute as much as 29% of the total greenhouse CO2 emissions in the U.S.
As a result, by 2030, the expected growth of electric car sales is 29.5% of the sale of all new cars. In addition to being better for the environment, electric cars are modern, fun, and trending.
Unfortunately, just like with anything, there are some defective electric cars in the bunch.
Common Problems Associated with Electric Cars
If you are interested in or currently have an electric car, here are some of the common problems of which you should be aware.
Many of the electric car manufacturers have faced some type of recall due to the risk of fire. Some of the risks are associated with manufacturing defects in the lithium-ion battery pack. Other fire concerns are related to malfunctioning software that runs the car.
The battery in an electric vehicle operates at a low range, 15 degrees Celsius to 45 degrees Celsius, which is lower than a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. The battery of an ICE vehicle operates from 30 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius. The components inside the battery of an electric car are quite flammable. This makes it susceptible to a fire starting at any time.
Manufacturers have made attempts to prevent this from happening by creating firewalls between smaller cells in the battery. This was intended to stop thermal runaway from happening. In addition, some are working creating a battery with as few harmful chemicals as possible to make the battery less flammable. Manufacturers are working towards correcting these problems and reducing the risk, but nothing is foolproof yet.
When an electric vehicle catches on fire, it is more difficult to extinguish. If the battery catches fire, water will not suppress the fire. If the fire has not been put out thoroughly and does not cool, there is a chance it may reignite. There is a need for excessive amounts of fire suppressants if the car catches fire. Some are recommending that electric car drivers carry fire extinguishers in their vehicles.
Electric cars are powered by a large amount of technology. They have gadgets and enhanced features, power equipment, and updated infotainment systems. As these cars are being developed at a fast rate, quality control may not be what it should be. However, no matter how quickly they build them, they cannot keep up with the ever-changing updates to technology.
The tech in the cars rapidly becomes outdated and problematic. This makes electric vehicles depreciate in value faster than ICE vehicles. Therefore, you should not expect to keep an electric vehicle as long as you would an ICE vehicle. It is estimated that an electric car has depreciated more than 50% after three years.
Driving Range Limitations
With all the advancements of electric cars, they have a limited driving range on a charge. The 2020 version of the Nissan Leaf can drive about 150 miles on one charge. The Model 3 Tesla has an extended range and goes about 370 miles on one charge. There is no comparison between a traditional combustion powered car and an electric car in the range they are able to go between refueling. The driving range for an electric vehicle decreases in cold weather. It can reduce by as much as 41% if the temperature drop by about 20 degrees and the heater is on in the electric car.
While this is an improvement over the electric cars available a few years ago, it may not be enough for more people to make the switch. If the technology continues to improve at the same rate of speed, it may not be long before the range improves enough for more people to have an interest in electric cars. Right now, electric cars are not the best option for long distance drivers and those with range anxiety.
Amount of Time for Charging
Another problem with electric cars is the low driving range, the amount of time it takes to charge the car is high. In a conventional vehicle that is combustion powered, you can easily take your car to a gas station and spend 10 minutes or less fueling your car. However, that is not true of electric cars. It takes a significant amount of time to charge an electric vehicle. At the same time, the speed of the charger makes a difference in how quickly the car charges.
The standard wall charger for the Tesla Model S takes as much as eight hours to charge the car. A supercharger shaves about an hour off of that charging time. There are other chargers that can charge a fully discharged battery in less time, but it will take at least two hours. Still, it takes longer than it does to fill up the gas tank of a conventional car.
There are more electric vehicle chargers showing up in shopping centers and parking lots that offer fast charges. This makes it possible to charge your vehicle while running into a grocery store or other errands. This can help save time and allow you to charge your car while running other errands.
Hacking and Fraud Concerns
There have been increasing concerns over the security of electric cars and their vulnerability to hackers. There have been instances of the autopilot feature being hacked into, causing the car to move in the wrong direction or brake unexpectedly. Hackers flashed phantom images while the vehicle was in autopilot mode, and the car reacted to something that was not really there. In addition, there has been some research to show that the chargers are vulnerable to attacks.
While electric cars are not the only cars that have been hacked, they are more susceptible due to their high amount of technology. The mobile key FOB for ICE cars has been hacked in the past, making them vulnerable in some cases. However, the electric car has high level technology and a connection to the internet, which makes them a more likely target for hackers. Hackers can access data and steal your car but also can remotely control it. This could lead to accidents, destruction, and possibly death.
Trained and Qualified Mechanics
Currently, it is difficult to find a trained mechanic to work on an electric car. They are new and have incredibly high technology, but there are not many people qualified to work on them. While the expectation is that more and more people will become qualified to work on electric cars, we are not there yet. So while you can take the vehicle to the dealer, that may be the only place you can take your car when it needs service or repair.
There are not many households or public charging stations available because of the cost of a charging station. A level two charger starts around $2,500 and quickly goes up to $35,800 for a D.C. fast charger. This is just the cost of the charging station. This does not include the cost of installation, permits, regulations, and connection with utilities. These costs and installation process may be a deterrent to someone interested in an electric car.
In addition, while most car manufacturers, with the exception of one, use the same charge port model, they use different fast chargers. Many of the automakers use the SAE combined charging system, but Nissan and Mitsubishi use the CHAdeMO while Tesla uses the Tesla Supercharger. With a lack of access to universal chargers, it is going to be challenging to get to a widespread purchasing of electric cars. No matter what ICE vehicle you have, you can go to just about any gas station. You do not have the same luxury as an electric car, and that may be a barrier for some.
Electric Car Costs
The initial investment in an electric car is more substantial than a conventional ICE vehicle. An electric vehicle uses more expensive materials in the manufacturing process. Plus EV batteries are still costly. Even though the prices have come down over the past ten years, the approximate price of a new electric car is $30,000 to $40,000. While this may be the initial cost, there are some cost savings over time with an electric car.
An electric car can save a driver anywhere from $4,500 to $12,000 over the long run. There are quite a few variables in this savings amount. They include the price of gasoline, the cost of electricity, charging modes, and cost. It also includes the type of driver that you are. Finally, you have to calculate how many miles you drive over the period of a year.
Problems With Electric Car Coolant
An electric car has coolant running through it just like a conventional ICE vehicle does. An electric car needs to coolant to prevent it from overheating. Electric cars are sensitive. Running the heater and air conditioning can cause the car to lose battery power, especially in extreme temperatures. Electric cars are built with the ability to cool themselves; however, there could be problems with the coolant. It is critical that you replace the coolant in your electric car to ensure it is using clean coolant. As with an ICE vehicle, if the coolant is dirty, it is not going to do its job effectively. It is not recommended that you change the coolant yourself. It would be best if you took it to a qualified service technician, or you may risk voiding the warranty.
Electric cars have a regenerative braking system. These systems conserve energy when the vehicle is slowing down or stopping. Basically, it is using the energy used to stop or slow your vehicle to charge the battery cells while you are stopping. Some electric cars have a one pedal driving system. You use the same pedal to accelerate and brake. When you push down on the pedal, it accelerates. When you lift your foot off the pedal, it slows down the car.
This regenerative braking system can help extend the life of your brakes and brake pads. It is not a set them and forget them deal. The brakes do not receive as much pressure but still need servicing. The brake fluid also needs to be changed on a regular basis. If you do not monitor the status of your brakes and brake fluid, you could see a degradation in your ability to slow down or stop.
How Do the Batteries in Electric Cars Work and Do They Have Common Problems?
There is a significant difference between the batteries in electric cars and those in traditional gas vehicles. Electric vehicles have a rapid and extreme increase in temperature that can spread through the cells of the battery as it moves. This is called thermal runaway. This thermal runaway is what makes the batteries in electric cars highly flammable. This can cause some electric vehicles to catch fire. In addition, the batteries in an electric car are heavy, weighing around 1,000 pounds.
For comparison, the battery in a conventional car weighs about 15 pounds to 40 pounds. This large battery is critical to the functioning of the vehicle. If it is defective, it makes the electric vehicle useless.
While an electric car may reduce the carbon emissions of greenhouse gases, it has other environmental implications. The battery requires a large number of minerals that must be mined and transported. For one thousand pound battery, there are about 500,000 points of earth moved through mining.
Many of these mines are not in the U.S. This has caused significant delays in the supply chain as well as considerable implications for the supply chain. As a result, if you need a replacement battery for your electric car, it could take several weeks or several months to get it.
Do Electric Cars Have Infrastructure Problems?
There is a significant infrastructure problem when it comes to electric cars. When someone purchases an electric car, it means that there needs to be changes and updates to their home, such as installing a home charging station.
This may be a deterrent to many that prevents them from making this purchase. In addition, some people who own electric cars may be dependent on the availability of public charging stations. This may make traveling long distances challenging because a driver has to plan their route based on where public charging stations are available. The landscape of charging infrastructure should change as more people purchase electric cars. However, at this time, charging stations are more scarce than are available.
Electric Cars and the Lemon Law
Every state has its own lemon law, but each one may be slightly different. Each state has a process when it comes to buying, interacting with dealerships, and rules that manufacturers must follow before the car is able to be called a lemon. The lemon law for each state does apply to electric vehicles. The owner of electric cars can follow the same process for their cars as they would for an ICE vehicle when they think it is a lemon.
Electric cars have fewer mechanics than their gas powered counterparts. They do, however, rely on software. This can open electric vehicles up to a new set of defects and the potential for the car to be a lemon. The software of an electric car is the control for everything in the car, from the distribution the battery power to self-driving features.
In addition, the software controls other items like the lights and radio. This also means that the car has hundreds of millions, possibly, billions of lines of code in an electric vehicle. There are bound to be some mistakes with all of that technology.
While there have not been a large number of lemon law cases with electric cars, it is expected that there will be a higher number of lemon law cases. The software is such a crucial part of the car and will continue to be as more drivers choose electric vehicles, the cases will become more common. It is critical that all aspects of an electric car function properly as they contain features that allow the car to take over driving capabilities. There is an expectation that there may be new lemon laws created to cover defects related to the software in electric vehicles.
There are many challenges and opportunities with electric vehicles. Electric cars will fail from time to time. But they are getting better.
Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.