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What is the downside of electric cars?

Pros and cons of electric cars

Electric vehicles offer many benefits, but they also have some disadvantages when compared to conventional gasoline-powered cars. One of the biggest questions prospective electric car buyers face is whether to purchase an all-electric vehicle (AEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), or a gasoline-powered new car.

Compare and discover new electric vehicles

How do electric cars work?

An electric car is any vehicle that is powered by a battery that has been charged by an external electricity source. There are many different categories of Electric and Hybrid vehicles including all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids that use both electric and internal combustion engine technology.

Pros and cons of electric cars

Electric cars are growing in popularity every day. Just like conventional cars, there are certain benefits and drawbacks of using an electric car compared to using a gasoline-powered car. Here are the top few to keep in mind:

Pros of electric carsCons of electric cars
Electric cars are energy efficientElectric cars can’t travel as far
Electric cars reduce emissions«Fueling» takes longer
Electric cars require lower maintenanceElectric cars are sometimes more expensive

On the pros side, electric cars are energy efficient, are net good for the environment, and don’t require as much maintenance as traditional gas-powered cars. On the cons side, you can’t travel as far between refueling, the actual refueling process takes longer than filling a car at a gas station, and upfront costs are sometimes a barrier.

Below, we’ll explore these pros and cons in further detail.

Advantages of electric cars

Electric cars are energy efficient

Energy efficiency refers to the amount of energy from the fuel source that is converted into actual energy for powering the wheels of a vehicle. AEVs like offerings from Tesla are far more efficient than conventional gas-powered vehicles: AEV batteries convert 59 to 62 percent of energy into vehicle movement while gas powered vehicles only convert between 17 and 21 percent. This means that charging an AEV’s battery puts more towards actually powering the vehicle than filling a gas tank.

Electric cars reduce emissions

Emissions and carbon footprint reduction, including reduced usage of fuel, is another pro for all-electric vehicles. Because they rely on a rechargeable battery, driving an electric car does not create any tailpipe emissions, which are a major source of pollution in the United States. In addition, the rechargeable battery means much less money spent on fuel, meaning all energy can be sourced domestically (and often through renewable energy resources such as solar panel systems).

Improving battery technology in today’s light-duty AEVs means they can drive 100 miles while consuming only 25 to 40 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. Assuming that your electric car can travel three miles per kWh, the electric vehicle can travel about 43 miles for $1.00. By comparison, if we assume that gas costs $2.50 per gallon, an average gasoline vehicle with a fuel efficiency of 22 miles per gallon will only be able to travel 10 miles for the same price. The distance traveled for a fuel cost of $1.00 is nearly four times as far with an electric vehicle.

Electric cars perform well and don’t need much maintenance

All-electric vehicles are also high performance vehicles whose motors are not only quiet and smooth but require less maintenance than internal combustion engines such as an oil change. The driving experience can also be fun because AEV motors react quickly, making them responsive with good torque. AEVs are overall newer than their gas powered counterparts and are often more digitally connected with charging stations, providing options such as controlling charging from an app.

Disadvantages of electric cars

Electric cars can travel less distance

AEVs on average have a shorter range than gas-powered cars. Most models ranging between 60 and 120 miles per charge and some luxury models reaching ranges of 300 miles per charge. For comparison, gas powered vehicles will average around 300 miles on a full tank of gas, and more fuel efficient vehicles getting much higher driving ranges. This may be an issue when looking at AEVs if you frequently take long trips. Availability of charging stations can make AEVs less suitable for activities like road trips.

Electric cars can take a long time to recharge

Fueling an all-electric car can also be an issue. Fully recharging the battery pack with a Level 1 or Level 2 charger can take up to eighty hours, and even fast charging stations take 30 minutes to charge to 80 percent capacity. Electric car drivers have to plan more carefully, because running out of power can’t be solved by a quick stop at the gas pump.

Electric cars can be expensive

Electric vehicles (EVs) usually have a higher price tag upfront, though you can save money owning an EV over time since there is generally less maintenance on an EV and it’s less expensive to charge than fuel with gas. Also, while battery packs are more expensive in EVs than conventional vehicles, they last a significant amount of time and come with 8-10 year warranties. So you’re not likely to have to pay out of pocket for a replacement. EVs also have federal incentives available as well as sometimes state-specific incentives to help reduce the initial purchase price. More and more automakers than ever are offering EVs, including BMW, Hyundai and Chevrolet.

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Pros and cons of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles

Many of the same benefits of all-electric cars also apply to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. PHEVs are great vehicles for reducing emissions and reducing fuel usage. For short trips, your PHEV may not need to switch away from its all electric motor, in which case the car emits no tailpipe emissions. Even more, PHEVs use 30 to 60 percent less fuel than conventional gas powered cars. If the electricity is sourced from renewable resources, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced even further.

PHEVs also make great vehicles for those who cannot commit to a fully electric vehicle because of driving and recharging needs. While AEVs are limited to their battery range, the fuel backup in a plug-in hybrid means that when the battery runs out the vehicle can continue to run and even recharge the battery by using fuel. PHEVs usually have a better fuel economy than their conventional gas powered counterparts.

Much like an AEV, one of the hurdles to owning a PHEV is the amount of time it takes to recharge the battery. While PHEV batteries are smaller on average than those found in AEVs, a Level 1 charger may still take several hours to charge. A Level 2 charger can take one to four hours. In addition, while fast charging does exist most PHEVs do not have this charging capability.

Another factor to consider is cost: like AEVs, PHEVs have a higher price tag than many gas powered vehicles. There are fuel savings, tax credits, and state incentives that can help offset these costs, and as production of PHEVs expands, these prices may come down.

Are electric vehicles worth it?

All-electric cars and plug-in electric cars are great for drivers who want to reduce emissions, reduce fuel costs, and drive nice vehicles. However, battery charging can take a long time which may not fit driving needs and the upfront costs mean that the vehicles are a larger investment. It is ultimately up to the driver to decide if this kind of vehicle is the right fit and if so, taking steps even further to reduce emissions by integrating solar panel systems into their vehicle charging.

Compare and discover new electric vehicles

Frequently asked questions about electric cars

What is the downside to electric cars?

Some disadvantages to buying electric cars include the fact that electric cars can travel less distance than gas-powered vehicles, being able to find EV charging stations, and higher initial costs.

Is it worth buying an electric car?

Electric vehicles can be potentially less expensive than gas-powered vehicles because of a combination of saving money in maintenance as well as spending less to power your car compared to using fossil fuels.

What is the range of electric cars?

Most electric cars have a range of between 60-120 miles per charge with luxury cars having ranges of up to 300 miles on a full charge.

How do you charge an electric vehicle?

All AVE drivers have to do is find a charging station and plug-in wherever you park. Depending on where you go you may need to use an app, or debit/credit card.

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The pros and cons of electric cars

Red sports car parked in the driveway of a home

There are many reasons to consider purchasing an electric car than sticking with a conventional car. Although electric vehicle ownership is on the rise, there are common concerns that may be holding you back from making the leap from a gas-powered vehicle to an electric vehicle. This guide will take you through the numerous benefits of owning an electric car, while also tackling the three main cons of electric vehicles—upfront cost, charging time, and range anxiety. By the end, you will feel confident in knowing the truth about EVs and the countless upsides to moving away from a gas vehicle.

What are the pros and cons of electric cars

The main crux of the electric vehicle conversation is around cost, misconceptions about battery life, performance, and convenience. However, when facts regarding the pros and cons of electric vehicles are laid out, it is immediately clear how worthwhile shifting to electric can be.

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The pros of owning an electric car

Electric vehicles offer a wide range of benefits for both EV owners and the environment. Some of the high-level pros of driving electric include:

  • Reduced emissions – Not only do electric cars produce no tailpipe emissions into our ailing atmosphere, but these positive effects can be further enhanced by powering your car with electricity from renewable energy sources, like solar power. When compared to a gasoline vehicle, electric vehicle emissions are significantly lower, which reduces CO2 emission, lowering your carbon footprint.
  • Electrifying performance – Because electric cars don’t rely on internal combustion engines, you can enjoy a smooth, quiet ride with better acceleration and less required maintenance than a conventional vehicle.
  • No more gas costs – On average, Americans spend around $3,000 every year on gas, depending on their state and car’s fuel efficiency. With a fully electric car, your gas bill will be reduced to zero, so your wallet can feel just as good as your smooth, electric ride.
  • Lower maintenance costs – Do electric cars save you money? The short answer is yes. Because electric cars are not powered by a complex internal combustion engine, the recurring costs associated with gas-fueled vehicles don’t apply. Gone are the days of oil changes and costly, inconvenient engine work. Not to mention, with regenerative braking your brakes won’t wear as quickly and will not need replacing as often.
  • Incentives and rebates – Depending on which country or state you are in, you may be eligible for many attractive tax credits and incentives that lower the cost of your electric vehicle considerably, offsetting the upfront price of electric cars that usually turns new buyers away. This is further outlined in the Infrastructure Bill EV Credit.

Debunking the cons

Although the benefits are attractive, many consumers are hesitant to pull the trigger on an electric car due to concerns over range, charging, and costs. Not only do the benefits of owning an electric car far outweigh the costs, but also many of these common concerns are either misapprehensions or will soon be non-issues due to rapid technological improvements.

Range anxiety

Range anxiety is perhaps the most pervasive fear of driving an electric vehicle. Concerns that the range of EV models will leave drivers stranded or inconvenienced as they wait for drawn-out charging times. While these concerns are understandable, they are often blown out of proportion and do not reflect the realities of driving an EV.

Here’s why you shouldn’t worry:

  • Electric vehicles can go far on a single charge. For the 2021 model year, the median range for EVs was 234 miles. While this pales in comparison to many longer-range electric models, this range still exceeds the distance that most consumers commute on a day to day basis. As long as drivers plug in every night or two, even the lowest range EVs can fulfill most drivers’ needs.
  • As technology improves, electric vehicle ranges will increase rapidly. Some EVs are already exceeding 500+ miles in range. Range anxiety will soon be a thing of the past.
  • Just like driving any gas-powered car, you will know when your car is in need of a charge and can thus make charging decisions around your commutes to avoid inopportune driving situations. Rest assured, you will not unexpectedly run out of charge in the middle of the freeway.
  • Most electric vehicles are designed with a “turtle mode,” which reduces power when the car is at a low battery, giving you a few more miles to drive to your nearest charging station before your car stops completely.

At-home charging and installation

Consumers may find it inconvenient and even intimidating to charge electric vehicles. However, as the electric vehicle market grows, finding where to charge an electric car won’t be difficult. There’s certainly no shortage of public charging stations or at-home charging options to choose from. Even tenants can urge property managers to install EV charger at an apartment for their convenience. Many drivers are also concerned that charging takes too long, however, as battery technology improves this too will be an issue of the past.

Here’s why you shouldn’t worry:

  • Charging your electric vehicle overnight as a habit will mitigate concerns of long charging times, as you can charge your battery and wake up in the morning with a full charge with no inconvenience to your daily routine.
  • If you need to charge your car away from home, public EV charging stations are springing up everywhere, providing a convenient means to charge up while running errands or while at work.
  • With the JuiceBox home EV charging station, you can easily, quickly, and affordably charge your electric vehicle at home. With smart capabilities, such as a mobile app that allows you to schedule your charging session, monitor your charging status, and optimize your charging to reduce energy costs, home charging has never been easier.
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Battery life and maintenance costs

Although electric vehicles have lower maintenance costs when compared to internal combustion cars, some consumers have concerns regarding battery wear and costly battery replacement. These concerns, though valid, will soon be squashed by improved battery efficiency and forthcoming engineering developments.

Here’s why you shouldn’t worry:

  • Electric vehicle batteries are getting more efficient every year. Lithium-ion cell energy density increases at about 7% yearly, resulting in better performance at a lower cost.
  • Because electric vehicles are still in their infancy, there is a lot more data required to make any conclusive claims about EV battery life. Although most claim electric batteries last about ten years, Tesla’s batteries have shown to only decrease in approximately 10% of their energy capacity after 100,000 miles of driving.
  • Furthermore, most popular electric car manufacturers offer attractive warranties on their EV battery packs that mitigate many—if not all—the costs associated with replacing said batteries.

If battery life is still a concern, here are a few ways to improve your electric car’s battery life:

  • Reduce exposure to high temperatures – If you are in a temperate climate, you’re in luck. If not, consider storing your car in the shade, and be mindful of garage temperatures.
  • Don’t overcharge your battery – Charging your electric car past its voltage limit can damage the battery and reduce its longevity. Most cars have built-in management systems to prevent this.
  • Do not drain the battery completely – Your electric car battery capacity will decrease over time if you frequently drain it completely. Try to avoid this by introducing regular charging to your weekly routine. Think about it like charging your phone—make it a habit you don’t even have to think about.
  • Avoid aggressive driving patterns – This involves not pulling excessive amounts of current from your battery in a short amount of time. Just practice safe and steady driving and you’ll be killing two birds with one stone.

Electric cars are more expensive

Finally, one of the biggest issues surrounding EVs: are electric cars more expensive than conventional cars? Currently, yes. However, many studies have shown that as technology advances, the costs associated with owning an electric car may be lower than those of gas-powered cars as early as three years from now.

Here’s why you shouldn’t worry:

  • Just by cutting gas costs alone, an electric car will be less expensive in the long run. Currently, electric cars pay themselves off in about six years, depending on local gas prices and the type of car. However, as batteries get better and lighter, this payoff time will decrease even further.
  • Powering your car with electricity generated from at-home solar panel charging can eliminate higher costs and further present a financial advantage by reducing your energy bill for the rest of your home.
  • Although the upfront cost of owning an electric car is still higher than purchasing a comparable conventional vehicle, this cost can be viewed as a worthy upfront investment for valuable long-term benefits in cost and energy savings.

Choose the right car for you, today

It is evident that the advantages of owning an electric vehicle far outweigh the disadvantages, but it is also important that you choose the right electric car for you. Some factors to consider are:

  • Battery life – Different models of electric cars use different methods of battery cooling that may affect battery longevity.
  • Driving range – Depending on your typical commute and driving habits, it may be worth it to shell out a bit more money for a more expensive electric car with a higher driving range. Also take into consideration the charging infrastructure of your local area.
  • Battery warranty – Consult your manufacturer before purchasing an electric car to better understand your rights should once your battery ever needs replacing.
  • Price point – As the electric vehicle market blossoms, the variety of electric vehicle options is steadily increasing, with many affordable options coming to market that are worthy considerations for a new consumer.

Most importantly, enjoy your smooth electrifying ride and rest assured that as you step on the pedal, you are doing both your planet and your wallet a favor.

Pros and Cons of Electric Cars

There are positives and negatives to owning a battery-electric, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid vehicle.

By Brendan McAleer Published: Sep 29, 2022

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If the forecasts by regulators and automakers are correct, the future of the automobile is going to be heavily reliant on battery-electric propulsion. But we don’t live in the future, we live in the present. It’s a time of great transition for the industry, but there are a few kinks that still need working out.

Electric cars are efficient, quiet, and torque-rich. They can also be expensive, tend to be heavy, and are plagued by a limited public charging infrastructure—something we expect will get better in the coming years. There are a number of benefits to choosing some level of electrification in your next vehicle, but some tradeoffs do apply.

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What Defines an Electric Car?

In today’s automotive landscape, an electric car is defined as a passenger vehicle that uses an electric drive motor for propulsion. This broad definition, which technically encompasses a number of powertrain setups, includes hybrid vehicles.

2021 toyota prius prime


A hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius, burns fossil fuel to power the vehicle’s internal-combustion engine, which subsequently plays a part in generating the electricity needed to power the car’s electric drive motor (an onboard battery pack stores this energy). Plug-in-hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) take this same concept and add the option to pull power from an external source, such as the energy grid itself, courtesy of an external charge port. PHEVs allow for short-range operation on battery power alone. Once enough of the battery’s energy is drained, PHEVs rely on the gasoline engine to serve as a generator and/or power source for the drive wheels.

Those in search of emission-free electric driving currently have two options to choose from: hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (HFCVs or FCEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). The former setup uses onboard fuel cells to react with hydrogen fuel (stored in an onboard tank) with oxygen to produce electricity to power such a vehicle’s electric drive motor. The combination of these two chemicals (hydrogen and oxygen) results in HFCVs exhausting water vapor.

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Alas, the limited hydrogen infrastructure in the U.S. makes it difficult to refuel HFCVs. As such, the two HFCVs currently offered in the U.S., the Toyota Mirai sedan and the Hyundai Nexo SUV, are strictly sold in California, a state with an existing—but still subpar—hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

Thus BEVs are the sole option for those looking to switch to an emissions-free car. Like PHEVs, BEVs feature an external charge port that allows owners to charge their car’s onboard battery pack using energy from an external source, such as the local energy grid. Unlike PHEVs, BEVs have no internal-combustion engine (ICE) onboard to serve as a generator or propulsion source. Without an ICE to lug around, BEVs feature larger-capacity battery packs that allow them to drive farther between charges.

2018 honda clarity plug in hybrid

Pros and Cons of Partial Electrification

PRO: Hybrids deliver better fuel economy without lifestyle changes.

Hybrids don’t require you to change your driving habits in order to change your impact. These vehicles are not dependent on electricity, as both have internal combustion engines onboard that burn gasoline (or diesel in other markets), which is easy to find at any gas station. PHEVs are just the same, however, they offer owners the opportunity to dip their toe into the proverbial EV pool. Want to limit your emissions? Then plug in and charge the battery pack to enjoy a limited range of strictly battery-electric power.

PRO: PHEVs suit the average commute.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the average one-way commute for American drivers is up to about 28 minutes each way per day. PHEVs, such as the Toyota RAV4 Prime or Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid, are capable of driving between 30–40 miles on battery power alone. In PHEVs like these, it’s possible you may only find yourself burning gas when you go on an extended drive.

PRO: Charging is less of a concern.

It’s not possible to buy a jerrycan’s worth of extra electrons (yet) for an EV that runs out of juice. However, all it takes is a couple of gallons of gas to get a hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle back on the move. Plus, unlike our charging infrastructure (which, admittedly, continues to improve and grow by the day), there are gas stations everywhere.

CON: Combustion engine maintenance.

Because there’s an ICE on board, hybrid and plug-in-hybrid vehicles still require the typical maintenance you expect of any gas-powered car. Electric motors, meanwhile, need comparatively little maintenance. Still, it’s not all bad news. Thanks to the use of regenerative braking from the electric motor, an electrified vehicle’s brakes often last longer and require less service than those of strictly ICE-powered vehicles.

CON: Still burning fossil fuels.

Gasoline-electric hybrids still burn fossil fuels, which means these vehicles still produce harmful emissions. A PHEVs ability to putter about on battery power alone means it’s possible for consumers to largely avoid firing up the gas engine. Still, it will inevitably turn on and begin combusting fuel.

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toyota mirai at fueling station 2022


Pros and Cons of Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicles

PRO: The technology works.

The California-only Toyota Mirai has a range of up to 402 miles and can be refueled nearly as quickly as a gasoline-powered car. It’s as smooth and refined as an EV, and less complex than a PHEV.

CON: Good luck finding a fuel station.

If the infrastructure for electrical charging is still young, then hydrogen infrastructure is embryonic. Currently, HFCVs really only make sense in limited applications (mostly in California), or perhaps for fleet use.

tesla model s ev charging electric car

Pros and Cons of Battery-Electric Vehicles

PRO: Performance and power delivery.

BEVs have the potential to be insanely quick. Just look at the Rivian R1T, a more than 7000-pound electric pickup truck that shot to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds under our watch. But the benefits of an electric motor are not limited strictly to straight-line acceleration. Thanks to the near-instant torque production of an electric motor, even more modestly powered BEVs tend to feel pretty peppy in typical driving situations.

PRO: Clean motoring.

With no exhaust (and thus no tailpipe emissions), electric motors are far cleaner than gas engines. Of course, just how much cleaner electric cars are compared to their gas-powered kin is dependent on a number of factors. For instance, if your local power plant produces electricity by burning fossil fuels, then the net environmental benefits of your EV lessen. That said, not all is lost. While many of America’s power plants do burn fossil fuels, solar and wind farms can supplement the grid, further countering any emissions indirectly produced by EVs.

PRO: Less maintenance.

Due to the fact electric motors have fewer moving parts than combustion engines, electric vehicles require less maintenance relative to their gas- and diesel-powered counterparts. Even better, the fact EVs use regenerative braking to slow down, means these vehicles use their mechanical brakes less frequently. As such, the braking components on EVs tend to wear at a much slower rate than those of cars with combustion engines.

CON: Battery blues.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the expected life of an EV’s battery pack is between 10 and 12 years. That said, battery packs can last longer than their estimate. Once a battery pack bites the dust, though, replacing it is rather pricey. As of this writing, new battery packs cost thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars to replace. These prices will likely come down as more battery-electric vehicles enter service. Likewise, consumers can save some money by purchasing a refurbished battery pack for their EV.

CON: Charging hassles.

America’s EV charging infrastructure is still rather weak, which means it can be difficult to find an available charger, let alone a functioning one, in public places. On the plus side, the most cost-effective and efficient way to charge an EV is via an at-home charger. Specifically, when hooked up to a 240-volt Level 2 charger, which ought to ensure your EV gets a sufficient charge overnight. Depending on the specific EV you own, the range added overnight should be more than enough to cover your daily driving needs.

CON: Towing troubles.

The hassles of America’s charging infrastructure are exacerbated when towing, too. With the likes of the Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T capable of towing up to 10,000 and 11,000 pounds, respectively, the era of towing with an EV is upon us. Unfortunately, doing so takes a toll on range. We discovered both the Lightning and R1T’s EPA-rated ranges were cut by nearly two-thirds when towing a 6100-pound camper. Unless the campsite or boat ramp is close by, then you may still be better off relying on a vehicle with an internal combustion engine to do your towing duties, as, in today’s environment, it’s far easier to find a reliable gas station over a charging station.

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Contributing Editor

Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and photographer based in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He grew up splitting his knuckles on British automobiles, came of age in the golden era of Japanese sport-compact performance, and began writing about cars and people in 2008. His particular interest is the intersection between humanity and machinery, whether it is the racing career of Walter Cronkite or Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century obsession with the Citroën 2CV. He has taught both of his young daughters how to shift a manual transmission and is grateful for the excuse they provide to be perpetually buying Hot Wheels.

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