If there’s still any doubt in your mind about the potential of electric vehicles, let’s bust some myths about EVs: That they don’t work in extreme cold, can’t go fast, and that they won’t grow up to be heavy-duty vans or big trucks.
As EVs drive into the mainstream, it’s time to shatter those misconceptions and myths.
Myth: Electric vehicles don’t operate well in cold weather
Wrong. The London Taxi Company recently took prototypes of its new EV version of the iconic black taxi to the Arctic Circle, where temperatures can cool down to a brisk 49 below. Just like a test drive you would take to decide whether or not to buy a particular model, LTC researchers focused on several things.
Some testing in the extreme temperatures was to monitor battery performance, including for the quality of heating and ventilation inside, no matter the temperature outside. Other tests focused on drivability, including road grip, and ease of steering and braking, regardless of conditions.
The EV taxis did well on all counts. The London Taxi Company (LTC) EV test in the Arctic has generated interest from other cities interested in the benefits of zero-emission taxis, including Paris, where winters are similar to London, and Moscow, where winters are longer and colder.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has made cleaner air a top priority, requiring ever newly-licensed taxi to be “zero-emissions capable” by 2018. So there’s an incentive for LTC to develop this EV version.
It also helps that the company is now owned by the deep-pockets Chinese auto company Geely, which also owns Swedish car company Volvo, which also knows a thing or two of operating vehicles in extreme cold. Geely also manufactures and sells EVs under its own brand name in China.
Wrong. A street-legal EV recently reached a certified record speed of 209MPH. The little-known Genovation Cars, based in Rockville, Md., has been testing its GXE supercar at Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds adjoining the Kennedy Space Center.
The Genovation GXE is a highly modified Chevy Corvette with a 150-mile range on its high-tech batteries, and a 7-speed manual or a paddle-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission that’s unique for an EV. If you want to buy one, you’d better have $750,000. But the bragging rights will be priceless.
There’s also new a Formula E race circuit, with races in Europe and the USA. Challenges go beyond speed, to include managing battery consumption and power regeneration during the race.
Races last 50 minutes and include a mandatory pit stop, in which drivers switch to a second car. It’s all in the interests of R&D. Jaguar’s first EV racecar, the I-Type, is helping the company learn best practices for the EV Jaguars and Land Rovers in the pipeline. Ditto for the BMW and Mercedes-Benz EV racecars on the Formula E circuit.
There also have been EV racecars on the Le Mans circuit. An Audi e-tron Quattro (pictured here) won the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race way back in 2013, and lessons learned on the track have been adapted for the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid.
Myth. Electric vehicles aren’t meant to be big.
Wrong, There are EV vans and pick-ups, and a 18-wheelers are in the pipeline. Nearly all are from small specialty manufacturers, plus one from Tesla.
Nissan reports its e-NV200 is the best-selling EV van in 17 countries in Europe. It’s the electric version of the conventional gas powered NV200 van, with biggest sales in UK, France and Norway, where winter temperatures often snuggle up – or down – to Arctic levels.
Cincinnati-based Workhouse Group is marketing an EV pick-up, W-15, with an 80mile range and a range extender for fleets.
Bollinger Motor Sports, based in upstate New York, just launched its EV full size sport utility truck this summer. The company claims it’s capable of going off-road, making it an ideal choice for ranchers, builders and off-road enthusiasts who want to avoid the carbon footprint of a traditional gas or diesel truck.
Pictured here is the Nikola One heavy duty truck, named for the first name of electric genius Nikola Tesla, since there already is another EV company named for his last name. The Nikola One promises to deliver that will deliver more than 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 ft. lbs. of torque – nearly double the horsepower of any semi-truck on the road – all with zero emissions.
Wrong. Yes, it’s true that most EVs have a range of 100-125 miles between charges. But since it’s also true that the majority of us drive far less than that each day, the range is more than enough for most of us to get to work and home between charges, and all of us to get our errands and shopping done between charges.
And with the growing network of fast-charge stations, it’s becoming easier to go on a longer road trip over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house, recharging along the way at shopping malls and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, and even at ski resorts while we are driving our tips from the chairlift downhill.