Electric cars are increasingly popular, but among hardened petrolheads there are a few outdated misconceptions that continue to linger. With climate change and regulations leading us on a seemingly unstoppable march away from internal combustion, we thought we’d set about debunking a few of the myths.
Myth 1: They're slow
The idea that electric cars are slow comes from golf carts and milk floats, but today’s reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Electric cars have no gears, meaning all of their pulling power is available from a standstill. 0-60mph in the i3 arrives in just 7.2 seconds – as fast as many souped-up hot hatches, and more than enough to surprise a few competitors away from the lights.
Myth 2: I'll run out of juice and end up stranded
Battery technology is advancing quickly, meaning electric cars’ have ever-more impressive ranges based on a single charge. The i3, for instance, has a range of up to 195 miles.
That’s much further than most of us drive in a single day. According to figures from 2015, the average British driver travels 7,900 miles in a year – or just over 21 miles a day. So, in truth, you could recharge as little as once a week. And when you do, you can give the i3 an 80% recharge in just 40 minutes.
If you do regularly make longer journeys, the i3 Range-Extender model includes a small fuel tank that powers an electricity generator, for added peace of mind.
Myth 3: They're no fun to drive
No BMW could wear the badge if it couldn’t be described as The Ultimate Driving Machine. So the BMW i3’s 125kW electric motor powers the rear axle, ensuring rear-wheel drive handling characteristics.
And then there’s the BMW i8. It’s not strictly an electric car – instead, it’s a plug-in hybrid supercar that marries the best of electric power with the added range assurance of a petrol fuel tank. A 228bhp turbocharged petrol engine sits behind the driver and powers the rear seats; a 139bhp electric motor powers the front. In combination, they give instant, four-wheel drive acceleration.
Myth 4: They're expensive
While some electric cars can be higher priced than their petrol counterparts, they’re often cheaper to run. Firstly, zero-emissions models are exempt from road tax. And then there’s maintenance: there are fewer moving parts, using electrical rather than mechanical energy to move the car. There are no oil filters to change, because there’s no oil. There’s no oil because there’s no pistons or gaskets, meaning there’s no cambelt to replace. And there’s no clutch to replace, because there’s no gearbox.
Myth 5: The power grid can't support mass adoption
It’s certainly true that the National Grid, in its current form, would struggle to support the demand for electricity if everyone went out and bought an electric car tomorrow. But as the source of power in our cars is changing, the way we generate and harvest electricity is changing.
Who's to say we won’t each be charging our cars with power from our own solar panels one day? Or even that our cars can't integrate their own solar panels? It seems an inevitable next step for future hybrid and electric models.