Pros and cons of electric vehicles in SA - reader


UPDATE: This is an opinion piece from Wheels24 reader Dewald Carsterns. If you agree, or not with this article, please email us.

Cape Town - If you’ve experienced the adverse weather pattern deviations in South Africa over the past year – crippling drought in the Cape, biblical flooding in Gauteng – the question of carbon emissions accelerated global warming is no longer in the realm of academic theory.

Although the automotive industry has done more than any other – especially industrial transport, which uses highly pollutant heavy furnace diesel – to reduce its carbon footprint, the future of personal transportation will not be hydrocarbon fossil fuels. They’ll have to be renewable energy. 

READ: Future fuels

We asked readers whether they would switch to electric/hybrid vehicles.

Reader Dewald Carsterns said: "I truly believe that electric cars are the future. Here's a quick list I made of pros and cons for battery electric cars."

Do you see yourself switching to electric/hybrid vehicles soon?
 Tell us your story via emailFacebook and Twitter.

We'll start with the cons.

Electric car Cons

1 Limited range (this only really comes into play if you drive long distances as an electric car can drive between 200 to 400km (depending on the vehicle your drive) every day after your night time charge, also a company such as Tesla have supercharges along most highways, this is also improving every year as new technology becomes available.
2 Slow charging time when compared to filling up with petrol / diesel. This is a problem that they are working on, and currently some Teslas can fast-recharge in about 20min from empty to full.
3 Price, this is still a problem but as more people buy them, they will get cheaper due to mass production, also one has to look at the whole price of the car including fuel cost, which levels the playing field somewhat.
4 Local government currently gives no incentives to purchase electric cars (except for no emissions taxes).

Electric car pros

1 Safer than conventional cars because there is no solid metal engine in front of the car, therefore the crumple zones work much better.
2 Safer because the center of gravity is much lower due to a heavier battery.
3 Safer because braking is a lot better due to the electric motor doing most of the braking (and recharging while doing this).
4 A lot more brute power for even the cheapest electric car, electric cars have a lot of torque from standstill. The top-of-the-range Tesla has 1171Nm of torque at standstill, the Lamborghini Aventador has 689Nm at 5500rpm
5 0-100km/h is better than conventional cars (check the Tesla 0-100 time, it is staggering)
6 Space inside of cars is better, due to a flat floor with batteries and no engine, driveshaft, gearbox, petrol tank, starter motors etc.
7 Boot space/luggage space is more due to no engine upfront and the electric motor only being the size of a watermelon (some electric cars even have a boot in the front and back of the car.)
8 Almost no maintenance because the motor has fewer moving parts compared to hundreds of in a conventional drivetrain, some electric car companies don’t ever require you to do any maintenance or have a maintenance plan, Electric vehicles require no traditional oil changes, fuel filters, belt replacements and spark plug replacements... As an electric vehicle, even brake pad replacements will be rare because regenerative braking returns energy to the battery, significantly reducing wear on brakes
9 Electric cars are automatic (this might be seen by some as a con and not a pro)
10 You can, but really shouldn't, do 'one foot' driving, due to the electric motor assisting in applying the brakes. You only need to step on the brake at the last second to come to a standstill, the rest of the braking is done by the motors.
11 There are very few items that can break on the car, no clutch to replace, no gearbox that can refuse to work, no alternator, no oil , no spark plugs, no belts, no radiator, no coolant for the engine.
12 The car can be driven hard even if it is cold outside
13 You can cool and heat the car before you get in with an app on your phone
14 It is quiet, which actually helps you relax more on a long journey. Just think how quiet it would be to live next to a highway...
15 Because there is are no gear changes and vibrations from an engine, the ride is extremely smooth
16 You wake up every morning with a full tank (assuming you charged your battery). Al ot of electric cars can travel up to 300km per charge
17 You never have to take time out of your busy day to head to the petrol station again
18 No tailpipe emissions, The statement that if you charge (refuel) an electric car with dirty Eskom (coal) power you might as well use a petrol engine is not entirely true, yes renewable power is better, but moving the tailpipe (exhaust) out of the city is good. But not only that, an electric car is about 90% efficient whereas a petrol car is only about 10% efficient.(most of a petrol and diesel engine’s power is wasted as heat at the engine.)
19 An electric car is much more efficient, so much so that the electricity used at the refinery to make a litre of petrol is enough to move and electric vehicle a longer distance than what you would have been able to drive with if you would have used the petrol in a normal car.
20 Cheaper to operate than a combustion car, the electricity cost to charge the car is allot less than what your petrol bill would be
21 Some governments provide incentives to purchase cars.
22 Contrary to popular believe electric car battery packs last longer than most engines, some of the older battery cars out there still works fine after 8 years of working every day
23 The electric motors can last longer than the body of the car will.
24 Software updates can be done on the car for changes to drivetrains and electrical components
25 The government does not need to import oil from some foreign country in dollars, electricity can be made locally in a multitude of ways which is good for the economy.
26 You can install solar panels and power your car with the sun for free (after the panels have been paid off)
27 It is good for the environment, especially if you use clean electricity, just think no more smog in cities

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