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14 Unfortunate Flaws in Electric Cars That No One Talks About

While we all now know the electric vehicle shift did not begin with Tesla, it is safe to say that the Texas-based automaker sparked it tremendously. Not everyone was on board, but slowly and surely, we’ve witnessed legacy car makers, as well as new entrants like Lucid, join the electric vehicle revolution.

That’s partly because electric vehicle development is improving daily. Unlike their ICE counterparts, electric vehicle engines are sleeker, quicker, compact, and more efficient.

But it’s not all roses and fairy tales. Electric car technology has a few problems, some bigger than others, but most revolve around one thing: its source of power — the battery.

Electric vehicle batteries take significantly longer to charge than gas-powered cars fuel. Charging an electric vehicle is nothing like waiting in line for a free pump—it’s more like planning a dentist appointment, only this time scheduling it more often. Here’s the truth: Humans are impatient, and it’s ingrained in our DNA.

It doesn’t end there. EVs depreciate fast, don’t have enough infrastructure, and beat the logic of going green when digging into the manufacturing process and component costs.

These are just a couple of issues on the surface. Deep down, there are unfortunate flaws that are often overlooked.

Limited Range in Extreme Weather

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In extremely cold temperatures, your EV’s range will decrease due to an increased energy demand to keep the battery pack and vehicle cabin warm.

According to a report by the American Automobile Association, when the weather is at 20 degrees, an electric vehicle could lose as much as 12% of its range. Turning the heater drops it down to 40%. The result is reduced efficiency and increased charging times.

That doesn’t mean extremely cold weather is better for ICEs. Due to dense air, gas-powered vehicles will experience a dip in fuel economy by about 15% at 20 degrees.

Long Charging Time

How to Charge a Tesla Model 3
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It goes without saying that EVs take considerably more time to charge than you’d fuel a regular gas-powered automobile—even if you had to wait in line for a free pump. It gets worse when using a standard domestic charger.

Still, EV charging infrastructure is expanding daily, and fast charging stations are becoming more common. But let’s face it: It’ll take a little longer before we have as many fast-charging ports as gas pumps.

Depreciation Curve Concerns

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It’s a known fact among car sales circles that new vehicles take a hit on their original value in the first year (about a 20% drop). Well, an electric car’s value may experience an even sharper depreciation curve compared to a conventional car.

There are a number of reasons, the most obvious being that consumers are not picking them up as fast out of the dealership yards as expected. Also, prospective buyers are still worried about EV teething problems such as steep initial costs, long charging times, and infrastructure.

Charging Costs

The driver of the electric car inserts the electrical connector to charge the batteries.
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Over the last few years, oil prices have been on a mood swing – thanks to geopolitical issues. They have been up and down, affecting the cost of gas throughout the world. EVs might be efficient, but that doesn’t mean charging is cheap.

No one has time to waste using a slow standard charger, but the faster alternative can be costly. Installing a Level 2 or Level 3 fast charging kit at home is also pricey, about $2,000.

This directly affects the cost of ownership. Additionally, some fast-charging networks require membership, which can rack up the cost, especially on long trips.

Complicated Production Process

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When hybrid vehicles first came out, they were criticized for their tedious production processes. They used materials, some rare, that required shipping across different continents to be processed into batteries and then shipped again to build the car.

While not of the same magnitude, electric vehicles suffer the same issues even though automakers have begun making batteries in-house. EV batteries need precious minerals such as cobalt and lithium, which are sourced overseas in countries like China and Congo.

Lack of Model Variety

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There are enough gas-powered models to go around. Heck, there are too many variants, and most regular folks can’t keep up with brand names or variants. We can’t say the same about electric vehicles.

Even though EV brands are still in their fancy stage, legacy brands have only started including EVs in their lineups, and there are not enough variants to choose from when it comes to features, body styles, and even sizes.

No More Jump-Starts or Easy Fixes

Car battery
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EV owners now and in the future will miss the early morning/ roadside easy fix. Fixing electric vehicles is more technical than jump-starting or tightening a loose hose on a gas-powered vehicle. That’s because modern cars are a little complicated to work on.

It gets worse for future electric car owners. Most auto service shops don’t have the tools, skills, or certifications to work on EVs (especially Tesla). If the vehicle experiences significant damage out of warranty, getting repairs at a regular workshop will be out of the question.

The owner will be forced to go to the dealer – who’ll have the discretion of what to charge for services offered.

Resale Market Volatility

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There’s no doubt that EV market sales have surged boldly over the last couple of years. Last year, global sales rose 35% up from 2022. Still, there’s a lot of uncertainty about EVs, especially among U.S. consumers.

According to BloombergNEF, there are still concerns about whether the American population is ready to embrace electric vehicles on a mass scale, especially for heavier vehicles like pickup trucks.

Also, unlike conventional gas-powered alternatives that have set values in the used-car market, Electric Vehicles don’t, resulting in less predictable returns.

Range Anxiety

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Perhaps the biggest concerns about the electric vehicle revolution are issues with the battery: high maintenance cost, inadequate charging infrastructure, and limited range, among others.

The longest-range EV (Lucid Grand Air) can travel 516 miles on a single charge, which is impressive. However, it costs more than $100,000.

Well, add inconsistent range indicators and a patchy network, and you’ll have the most stressful long trip—even with a high-tier EV model car. Most people would rather enjoy a less stressful drive.

Insufficient Charging Infrastructure

Tesla Idle Fees
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There’s a lot of disparity over charging infrastructure distribution for drivers, even in developed regions in Europe. Single houses might have access to domestic charging kits, but apartment buildings might not share the same luxury.

The U.S. and the UK have taken considerable steps in growing their electric car charging network over the years. In 2022, the American Congress passed a bill to add 500,000 new charging stations, and in February 2023, the UK added more than 18,000 stations.

Still, it will take considerable effort to catch up to gas pump network levels, which took more than a decade to achieve.

Irony of Going Green

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The automotive industry’s goal of going green has its own challenges – the most interesting is also very ironic. As much as EVs produce tailless emissions, it comes at a huge cost.

What most pro-electric vehicle groups fail to mention is the extraction of materials needed for the production of electric vehicle batteries has socio-environmental consequences.

According to a 2021 study on the impact of EV production, 46% of EV carbon emissions are from the production process, compared to 26% for conventional ICE automobiles. Add damage to protected ecosystems and human rights issues in the supply chain of EV production.

Battery Degradation

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One of the main factors considered when buying a vehicle is longevity and reliability. Forget what nostalgic car buffs say about classic cars being bulletproof; modern cars last way longer. They have better build materials, are efficient, and are more reliable.

While Evs share the same characteristics, the battery longevity is still a gray area. Like your favorite smartphone, batteries degrade over time (some more than others), losing capacity.

Still, Tesla’s data looks promising. According to the EV pioneer, its models average up to 200,000 miles to lose 12%.

Battery Recycling

Man throwing old empty car battery in garbage disposal with recycling symbol
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Only 5% of the world’s batteries are recycled. That’s quite shocking, given that improper disposal can lead to environmental pollution and resource depletion. Let’s not forget the socio-environmental impacts of EV production.

Nissan, Renault, and Volkswagen are a few automakers that have set up battery recycling plants, which is a promising start to sustainable practices. However, considering the rate at which EVs are being developed (10 million on the road by 2023), these efforts feel like a drop in the ocean. 

Geopolitical Impact on Raw Materials

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If you pre-ordered a new car between 2020 and 2023, you must have experienced supply chain issues due to the global pandemic or, much more recently, the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Prices fluctuated, components (semiconductors) were scarce, and manufacturing was delayed.

Also, stakeholders have raised concerns over some regions having dominance over scarce raw material supply chains. These rare raw materials used to make EV batteries account for up to 50% of the car’s value.

Author: Humphrey Bwayo

Title: Writer

Bio:

Humphrey Bwayo is an automotive journalist whose love for cars has extended into collecting, driving, and writing about automobiles. His first interaction with cars was with a BMW E36 M3 toy car he got for his 5th birthday, and, as the saying goes the rest was history. 

Growing up as a 90’s kid, he experienced firsthand the height of the great East African Safari Rally. He watched local legend Ian Duncan scoop titles in his Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD and Group A Subaru Legacy RS.

He was fortunate to attend journalism school and later work for a local news broadcaster before diverting into digital print. He’s enjoyed an illustrious career writing and editing for websites like National Monitor, The Clever, Columbia Observer, Gadget Review, Hotcars, TheDrive, and Autoevolution. 

He’s now found a home as a contributor at Tesla Tale, an extraordinary team of automotive journalists, experts, and car enthusiasts curving out new ways unseen on the interwebs of telling car stories — stay tuned!

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