Friday, February 23, 2024

Practically Living Green

Showing practical reasons to live green.

Journal & Opinions

Electric Car Batteries: Are They Practical for Driving?

An argument I hear a lot from anti-electric-car people is how the distance provided on each charge isn’t worth the price of the vehicle. But in reality, electric car batteries deliver more miles than many people will drive on any given day.

Of course, this greatly depends on the person driving. For me, I probably put about 5 miles per month on my van. That’s because I walk everywhere or I hang out with my friend who drives.

In any case, I don’t think electric car batteries are as bad as many might think.

Reality of Electric Car Batteries

Less than a decade ago, people were appalled they could only drive 300 miles on a single charge. With Tesla’s Model S, that distance has increased to 375 miles.

Still, that’s not an extraordinary distance. However, it may be less of an issue than what you might think.

To put this into perspective, the entire width of Colorado, from north to south borders, is only 280 miles. In the Model S, you could cross Colorado and have plenty of juice left over.

Traveling Distance of the Average Driver

According to the US Department of Transportation, the average person in my age group, 35-54, only puts on 41.9 miles per day. Keep in mind, this is an average of both men and women drivers.

I use this age group because it is the one who logs the most miles per year.

This means the average person would drive throughout his or her day, and only use up less than 25% of the total charge. After four days, you could plug it into a Level 2 charger, at 220v, and be ready the next morning.

440v Charging Stations

Now, there is some speculation on how fast charging depletes electric car batteries over time. In one study, it was found that fast charging can lead to a 78% increase in resistance over the span of 120 charge cycles with the most common battery type.

This means the battery is not holding as much of a charge and shows severe signs of degradation.

How long is 120 cycles to the average driver? If I’m still using my age group as a comparison, this would be over the next 480 days, or 1.32 years…which really isn’t a lot of time considering how expensive these batteries are.

Keep in mind, that is if you use fast charging every single time.

I would like to point out how IR-based charging results in a 29.4% increase in resistance over the same number of cycles. I suppose wireless does have its benefits to some degree.

Saving Money at the “Pump”

One of the highlights of electric car batteries over gasoline is the cost to drive. In one comparison, Enel X breaks down the average cost of a full tank of gas at around $39.34. Of course, this also depends greatly on the vehicle and location.

The cost full a full charge in an electric car sits at around $6.86.

As long as you avoid fast charging as much as possible, you could save an incredible amount of money each year in gas alone. And I’m not even adding in the overall maintenance costs of keeping the car on the road.

Because there are far fewer moving parts in an electric car and fewer needs as opposed to a combustion engine, the upkeep over time is also lower. That is unless you need a battery replacement.

For instance, the Nissan Leaf battery can set you back $5500! And that’s not including installation costs. Even though there is a $1000 core charge, that’s still quite a bit.

The offset, however, is how many of these electric car batteries come backed with one hell of a decent warranty program. For instance, Nissan provides a 5-year warranty on charge capacity and 8 years on any defects you may experience.

This means that even with fast charging stations, you’re covered for five years should the battery degrade. And, you’ll still save more money from gas even with the $5500 battery every 5 to 8 years.

Quite a Long Time to Charge Electric Car Batteries

Perhaps the major downside to owning an electric car is the time it takes to charge one to full capacity. Then again, it also depends on who you are and how often you drive.

On the lowest 110v charger, the same that comes out of your regular house power outlet, it takes around 96 hours for a full charge. If you’re like me and don’t put many miles on the vehicle, then it doesn’t really matter.

I’ve driven once this past week, and it was to Walmart at just over a one-mile round-trip.

But if you like to travel, a lot, then it might cause a bit of concern.

On the other hand, many hotel chains are installing charging stations. In fact, there were four of them at the Hampton Inn I stayed at in April.

The Practical Perspective

For someone like me, it’s still incredibly more practical to own an electric car. Even if I were to travel, there’s enough charging stations popping up all over the country to make any trip worth the travel.

But in reality, I’d probably only have to charge it once every two to three weeks. I just don’t put enough miles on the road as opposed to many others.

For someone like my friend, though, she’d save a small fortune in gasoline alone considering how far she drives every week. Even with the extra costs of battery replacement, she’d still save literally several thousand dollars each year.

Electric Car Batteries Will Only Get Better

Much like everything else, innovation and development is driven by consumer interest. The more people want electric cars, the more money is dumped into research and development.

Consider how most rechargeable batteries in the late 1900s were nickel-cadmium. Nowadays, it’s lithium-ion. In the next 20 years, I’m sure humanity will develop yet another rechargeable combination that is more efficient.

Until then, I’ll still drool over the original Tesla Roadsters while crossing my fingers that someday I’ll own an electric Corvette while I’m still young enough to enjoy the vehicle.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been interested in the practicality of living green for quite some time. He works closely with GreenGeeks Web Hosting as the Content Marketing Team Lead and an author of various articles.

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