Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Here is what’s holding electric cars back in South Africa

Here is what’s holding electric cars back in South Africa
A rather poorly researched negatively biased article full of electric vehicle misconceptions from Business Tech. It seems they're more concerned with the potential drop in the demand for platinum as less ICE vehicles get produced and there is less need for platinum for catalytic converters for them. Below I try and counter their arguments.

  • Time to fill up/charge: It takes say 10 minutes to fill up with petrol and 5 hours for a EV. This means that petrol is 30 times more time efficient.This is simply not true. A Tesla Supercharger station will charge a Tesla Model S battery up to 50% in 20 minutes or 40 minutes to 80%. 50% charge in a Tesla should give you a 200km range. Tesla isn't yet available in South Africa but should be here within a year or two with the Model 3 and at the same time they will no doubt start to roll-out charging infrastructure as they have in the other markets they are active in. What the author means about petrol being 30 times more efficient, I don't know?
  • Range on full tank/charge: Petrol is ~1.5 times more efficient.Hmmmm... once again difficult to fully understand what point the writer is trying to put across. Electric vehicle ranges vary from 135km per charge for a Nissan Leaf to over 500km for the top of the Range Tesla Model S. Obviously someone who busy a Nissan Leaf is someone who doesn't plan doing many journeys over 135km and who's daily motoring will generally be under that mark. If you are never going to do more mileage in a day than the maximum range of your electric vehicle then you have nothing to worry about. Do whatever driving you need to do for the day, come home at night, plug your EV into the mains electricity and then in the morning it's ready to go again.
  • Price: A more affordable electric car has a range of 100 km and takes around 8 hours to fully charge at home, and even these cars are still expensive when compared to similar petrol engines. Tesla’s are 50% more expensive than similar petrol cars.Most people sleep for about 8 hours a night so of course it makes the most sense to charge your electric vehicle at the same time. Admittedly some current electric vehicles such as the two available in South Africa, the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 do have ranges on 135km and 160km respectively on a single charge. This is probably more than enough range for 95% of the populations motoring needs. However more and more electric vehicles are coming out with ranges of 300km plus. These include the already released Chevy Bolt & Tesla Model S/X, the upcoming Tesla Model 3 and the second generation Nissan Leaf. Prices of electric vehicles are more than a comparative fossil fuel powered one but the initial extra expense will be more than made up for by saving in fuel costs after a few years. Prices of electric cars are coming down all the time and at the same time their ranges are increasing. The Tesla Model 3 should be around the same price as a BMW 3 series of Mercedes C class, so not 50% more expensive.
  • Green: In countries like South Africa (and India, Australia, China etc), where coal is the main source of fuel for power generation, the carbon footprint is roughly equal. The carbon footprint of an electric car In South Africa is five times that of an electric car in Sweden.
    Even if the carbon footprint is roughly equal, it's still better to have electric vehicles than fossil fuel powered vehicles. Besides everything else, power stations don't blow their exhaust gases straight into the faces of pedestrians and other road users, the don't create air and noise pollution in the middle of cities where most people are. At least you'd be able to walk down the side of a busy road without having to shout to make yourself heard over the noise of petrol and diesel engines and without having to breath in exhaust fumes. As electricity gets greener as solar and wind get cheaper then the carbon footprint from all EV's will also drop.
  • Heading off the beaten track (driving in the bush) is out of the question.Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana and Londolozi Game Reserve are already using electric vehicles for game drives.
  • Towing a trailer or a caravan severely restricts range.
    Just like it does with a petrol or diesel vehicle.
  • Back-yard DIY maintenance and servicing is off the table.This has to be the most nonsensical and ignorant argument of them all. An electric vehicle literally needs little or no regular maintenance, apart from topping up the window washer fluid and rotating/replacing the tyres. Compare this to modern ICE vehicles which are so complex nowadays, you have  to get them serviced by the official agents.
  • The anticipated advancements in technology is perversely a negative against buying an electric car today. There are clearly going to be great advances in EV technology in the years and decades to come. However, this will make the (expensive) car that you buy today quickly obsolete. The likelihood is that as with any technological advance, EV’s may become a more affordable alternative much later in its evolution.Quite the opposite is true. If you buy a Tesla for instance, it gets upgrades downloaded via the internet. A good example of this is the Tesla Autopilot self driving system. Most Teslas have the hardware already installed and as the Autopilot software improves, Tesla will automatically update your vehicle. If you were to buy a Tesla today, in a couple of years you'd probably have the option of the same vehicle being able to drive fully autonomously.

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