AAA Electric Vehicle Infographic – The Good and the Bad

Originally posted on EVANNEX.
By Charles Morris

Most readers of this column are familiar with electric vehicles, and sometimes we forget that there are millions of drivers who have never driven one, or even sat in one. There is definitely a need for basic articles, what it is, and more of them are appearing every day. Unfortunately, most are written by journalists who do not have extensive knowledge of electric mobility, and they often contain misleading information, even when trying to portray a positive image of electric vehicle ownership.

A recent article from AAA, one of the world’s largest sources of information for drivers, titled “Answers to Common Questions About Electric Vehicles,” is aimed at electrical newbies – someone who can be curious about electric vehicles, but who has no idea what it is. love to own one. As items like this disappear, it’s a mixed bag – some of AAA’s answers will be helpful to a potential EV buyer, but others are likely to leave them as confused as before.

The first question for the layman is usually “How far can an EV go with a charge?” AAA rightly states that most electric vehicles today have a range of around 200 miles. He also points out that while it might seem short compared to the range of a gas burner, American drivers drive an average of 31 miles per day. Potential buyers should think about how they will generally use their vehicles. (Travel, car trips or both?)

Regarding the relationship between temperature and range, AAA skates on thin ice, stating that “EV range is reduced by 41% when temperatures drop to 20 ° F and the car heater is used,” and 17% when they reach 95 ° C. ° F and the car air conditioning is used. EVs certainly lose range in extreme temperatures, especially in cold weather, but as EV drivers know, the amount of range loss depends on many factors and cannot be reduced to a simple formula. like this one.

Of course, the second question is always, “How long does it take to charge a battery?” Yes, dear readers, I can see you roll your eyes. Personally, I don’t know exactly how long it takes to charge my EV, and I never needed to know. At home, it takes the night. On the road, you need a trip to the restroom and a cup of coffee. However, everyone who asks this question is a potential future EV driver, and they are waiting for a specific answer. Here, the AAA article is very unnecessary. Their answer is very misleading: “Charging a dead battery with household current can take 12 hours or more, a problem if you are in a rush but not if you are simply recharging the vehicle overnight. Many public chargers are faster, with some being able to replenish half the battery life in under an hour.

To be fair, it’s difficult to answer the question about charging time in a paragraph, as it depends on the charging speed of the EV model in question and several other factors. However, the EV-curious deserve a clear explanation of the three types of recharging (do not hesitate to copy and paste):

  1. Level 1 charging uses a 120 volt household circuit and can take 12 hours to fully charge a battery, so it is usually only used in unusual circumstances.
  2. Level 2 charging uses a 240-volt household circuit and typically takes 4 to 6 hours, depending on the vehicle. This is the flavor that is typically used for home charging. All new EVs come with a portable charging cable that supports level 1 or 2 charging from a household outlet, but most drivers will want to install a fixed level 2 charging station in their garage. or their driveway.
  3. Fast DC charging is available at public charging stations and can charge an electric vehicle in about half an hour.

Any careful car buyer wants to know what the apple of their eye is going to cost, and every EV owner knows that an EV’s higher sticker price will be offset in a few years by fuel and maintenance savings. The AAA states that “Research from 2019 indicates that … the overall cost of owning an EV is 8% higher than that of a gasoline vehicle.”

Well, that’s a very unusual claim, to say the least. Many, many, many, many, many, many, many studies and anecdotal accounts have shown that the total cost of ownership is inferior for an electric vehicle than for a comparable ICE vehicle, and the gap is widening every year. Most of the articles we refer to are about Teslas, and some (including the editors of AAA) would probably be surprised to learn that these sleek, expensive cars can cost less on a total cost of ownership basis than vehicles with much lower sticker prices. We also recommend that you visit Carbon Counter, which lists lifetime costs (purchase price, fuel, and maintenance) for most models in the US market.

When it comes to electricity and maintenance costs, AAA categorically states, “The cost of electricity to travel 15,000 miles per year averages $ 546; the cost of gasoline to travel the same distance is $ 1,225. Electric vehicles do not require an oil change or engine air filter replacement. If an electric vehicle is maintained according to the recommendations of the automakers, it costs $ 949 per year to maintain, $ 330 less than a gasoline-powered car.

These numbers are approximate, but this is a ridiculous oversimplification (almost checkered, actually). Electricity and fuel prices vary widely across the United States – a more thoughtful cost comparison that has recently emerged in the the Wall Street newspaper found that a hypothetical EV driver in Spokane, Wash. could save $ 899 per year on fuel, while a New Yorker would save only about $ 428 per year.

Maintenance costs also vary widely – no doubt they’re lower than fossil burners, but they won’t be the same for a $ 30,000 Mini Cooper as they are for a $ 100,000 Tesla Model X. . (Maintenance costs for my Nissan LEAF in the past four years, other than tires and wipers, have been nil.)

Most helpful tip the AAA has to offer: Ask friends and family who own electric vehicles what they’ve been through. (You can also contact a local club of electric vehicle owners or check out online consumer resources such as Plug In America, Drive Electric, or fueleconomy.gov.)

What do AAA members who drive electric vehicles think of their purchases? Well, 96% of respondents to a recent survey said they would buy or lease another EV. Some 43% said they drive more now than with a gas burner, and 78% said they have both a traditional vehicle and an electric vehicle in their home, but they drive most of the time. their driving (87%) in their electric vehicle. .

AAA infographic

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