Myths about Teslas and EVs

There are a few commonly held myths about Teslas and EVs in general.  Some are held by those who have little knowledge of the cars.  Some are held by those who believe that Electric Vehicles (EV) couldn’t or shouldn’t replace the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE).  Here are some of those myths and the real facts:

  • “How big is the engine?” – It’s probably one of the most common questions to be asked.  Many people believe that Teslas have an engine to back up the electric motors – a so-called hybrid.  Teslas are entirely electric.  The battery sits in the floor giving them a very low centre of gravity and maximising the available space for passengers.
  • Teslas are not emission free – This is a myth often upheld by defenders of the ICE.  After all, where does the electricity come from?  Doesn’t it just transfer the production of CO2 to the power stations?  Doesn’t it just move the problem elsewhere?…  On the whole, not true.  The majority of EV owners choose to drive with electric propulsion because they believe in promoting zero emissions technology.  As such, many EV owners invest in self-generation technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines so that they can charge their cars from their own self-sufficient energy source.  For those that still charge from the grid, many purchase their energy from renewable or low-carbon sources.  Now while none of those folk can claim to have all the electrons sourced from a single renewables source; they can claim that the flow of cash moves from their bank accounts to those of low emission providers – and that essentially amounts to the same thing.
  • There’s no point in getting electric vehicles yet because they have low range – While limited range is true for some EVs (100-150 miles), those cars are designed for urban use where there are charge points in many locations around the area; but more significantly the cars get plugged in over night and so they are always ready to go every morning.  Therefore limited range is not, in reality, a big issue.  Conversely, Teslas are a big step up from the majority of other EVs in terms of range.  The 75D can do around 215 miles on a full battery.  The 100D can do around 375 miles.  And while those numbers are much lower than most ICE cars can manage, the Tesla is charged every night and so is ready to go every morning.  For urban driving,  the battery rarely gets below 50% charge.   However, Teslas perform well over long distances having a Supercharger network across Europe, the US and beyond.
  • It takes hours to charge up a Tesla – Well okay, if you have 0% in the battery and you put it on a supercharger, it will take about 90 minutes to charge to 100%.  However, how often do drivers of petrol cars run their tanks to empty?  It is rare to run a Tesla to below 10% before charging.  Equally, charging up to 100% is not really necessary – most will charge up to 90%, even on long journeys.  That last top 10% takes a long while to charge as the battery management system tries to trickle amps into the final remaining capacity of all the individual battery cells – and so going from 90% – 100% on a Supercharger will normally take 30 mins.  The upshot of all that is that charging from 10% to 90% will usually take about 45 minutes.  Remember that Supercharging is only really used for long distance journeys (because local travel allows charging at home overnight), so if you’ve just travelled 200 miles (75D) or 350 miles (100D), then you’ll have been driving a few hours so you’ll want a break.  Once you’ve been to the loo, grabbed lunch, a snack or a coffee, you’ll have used up most if not all of your 45 minutes you need for a full recharge on a Supercharger.  The Tesla’s SatNav will route the car via Superchargers and gives the driver info such as remaining battery life on arrival and how many cars are already at the Supercharging station.  And for the most part, Supercharging is free – so a Tesla can drive from Aberdeen to Rome and not pay a penny on fuel.
  • The batteries degrade over time – Again, yes that’s true.  However there are now leading Teslas that have done over 500,000 miles (mainly sales executives, etc).  These cars are showing 95% battery efficiency – so the degradation is negligible.  In addition, the batteries have a lifetime warranty – in effect, Tesla own the battery rather that the driver.  So if the battery malfunctions at any point, Tesla will replace it for free.
  • Teslas are fully autonomous – Not yet they’re not.  They have the technology on board to do fully autonomous driving, and indeed Tesla have put videos on-line where the car drives itself, reads traffic signals, and even goes to find a parking spot by itself after the driver has stepped out of the vehicle.  However, that level of autonomy is not licenced in most parts of the world, and certainly not in the UK; plus the software continues to be in development.  Teslas have over-the-air software updates, much like mobile phones, which add features and improves the driving software.  Incrementally the car is becoming increasingly autonomous.  It will only be a matter of time before we will see fully autonomous cars on the UK’s roads.
  • Autopilot is dangerous and the cause of accidents – Much like anything, if something is abused or used beyond its design capabilities, then accidents can and will happen.  Tesla is clear that the current Autopilot technologies are driver aids and the driver remains responsible for the safety of the vehicle.  Autopilot and the Traffic-Aware Cruise Control are designed for motorways and dual carriageways where the traffic flow is much more predictable than in an urban space where cars can pull out of side turnings, etc.  If used as intended, the car’s semi-autonomous features are extremely safe.
  • Tesla are about to go out of business – While I may be proved wrong by this, and only time will tell, people have been saying they will go out of business since their inception ten years ago.  Their sister company SpaceX continues to launch rockets (and Tesla Roadsters) into space.  The new Model 3 is hitting production targets.  Teslas stock prices have been steadily rising (at least to date, in June/July 2018).  Even Elon Musk himself has tweeted sarcastically about going bust.  All indications are that Tesla will be around for some time to come.