April 2024. EVeryman and his Motor Car.

EVeryman and his Motor Car.

Believe it or not, given my passion for four wheels, I’ve never actually inspected an electric car, static, in the round, therefore I convinced myself a correction was needed so I could at least legitimately consider this modern phenomenon that seems to cause so much angst! Having been in production for a number of years, and despite the possibility, they appear to be somewhat rare in this neck of the woods. But the other day I came across one in the car park of our local ‘super’ store - well it is when the next largest shop is a paper shop! Given that description you’ll understand why electric cars are somewhat rare. The most noticeable thing about this car was the size. A tad smaller than the school bus! I was not impressed, as size equates to cost, and goes hand in hand with available disposable assets. The vehicle also carried foreign number plates which suggested the vacation season was on the horizon and such long-distance travellers had to plug in every time they stopped, adding to their journey time. Thus, it was attached to the charging point, and also straddled half the space of the next bay, normally occupied by a regular vehicle. My interest thus waned with a shrug. Such a vehicle would be of no use to me. In any case, I had the more important matter of the evening meal, - et al.

But events, as they say, nearly always come in pairs, and three days later I came across another electric car which, at first sight, I considered a quite different matter. Two in three days! I needed to get up to speed. Therefore, I pursued a little research to round up the pros and cons, so I could present them for consideration.

This car park was in an ‘out of the way’ place, discreet is a convenient word that comes to mind, which suggested a local owner. The vehicle was low, white, and a sensibly sized, Tesla, remembering this famous mark came in with the help of Elon Musk. Alright, I know he didn’t create the model, but it’s where the money is! A shade under 40,000 Euros, or if you’re hard up, the equivalent of 11,000 Euro’s a year on the ‘Never-Never’ which includes full costs, maintenance, insurance and finance repayments. A modern version of the classic “on the drip”! Not so good perhaps in a vehicle that is said to depreciate 30% a year in value. I’m doubtful, but these are strange times.

I have to say it looked very well made, and I don’t doubt, performed well. But the elephant in the room with EV’s remained. One volt being proportionate to one watt - or one’s bank account to one’s pocket! Electric cars are expensive, and if they weren’t, there must be a caveat in the paper work somewhere.

Good looks or not, I decided it would still suffer the massive problem of the charging infrastructure, in no way as convenient as the petrol station. If you run out of volts there’s no such thing as that “petrol can in the boot”. Not even a walk to the nearest garage. You’re stuck, and can see the money piling up as you wait for the rescue truck to pick you up. Charging itself can also be a nightmare, it seems. Unlike “one-make fits all petrol pumps”, charging points have a very different philosophy, and EV chargers come in a variety of versions, meaning the chargers themselves have to have a comparable matching connector. So, pulling in to charge up may turn out to be impossible. If you’re low on volts the problem can be dire! Perhaps a published list of stations would help - but seemingly such doesn’t exist! I leave you to work out the inconvenience of that. It’s worse apparently if you’re on a long-distance trip and are running on fading time as well as volts, as it can take half an hour to bring the battery back to scratch! Cross your fingers there’s a restaurant attached to the station and one of the chargers isn’t occupied. You’ll also need a look out, as you can’t book a slot when the system runs on a ‘first come first served’ basis!

Performance is no longer of massive interest to me as going round corners sideways is a facet of my youth. But electrical vehicles seem to be capable of holding their own, but naturally there’s a caveat. If the weather is particularly cold, then their range and speed can suffer visibly. Another factor to take into account if you need a dependable set of wheels.

At the same time, you don’t want your investment to deteriorate at the same rate as an ice cream on a summers day. And there’s the rub. Electric cars are said to be the fastest depreciating of all listed vehicles, despite being heavily supported in some countries. Indeed, apparently all the top depreciating cars are electrical. Added to maintenance costs being 10% higher than normal vehicles, that doesn’t tend to give a good look. These EV’s appear to be full of hidden costs not always applicable to its conventional petrol competitors. As an example, due to the massive weight of the battery, the tyres have to be capable of supporting the vehicle. On average they last for approximately 30000 miles and cost c.300 Euros each. €1200 for a full set. The average conventional vehicle would expect its rubbers to last longer, and cost less. If the battery for example goes “phut”, think in terms of approximately 8-10,000 Euros - then add the fitting cost of 5-7,000 Euros. I would suggest that should be a massive consideration for anyone buying a second-hand EV.  It certainly would be for me, who believes in getting the maximum value out of one’s money.  

Then another hidden problem is the increased drain on the battery during the winter months, for example. Quite obviously using heaters and windscreen wipers will affect the range of the vehicle adding further strain on battery life.

Of course, it’s not alone. Italy has one million natural gas vehicles on the road, but seemingly, they can only travel 200 miles before needing a gas station. But I won’t go down that road!

However, besides a host of irritations, a new electric car has reportedly, and I can understand why, high marks as an actual driving vehicle. It is very quiet, and also stable, given the heavy battery under your seats. These are all good points, but you cannot escape from the fact that they lose value at a very high rate, and this is their main Achilles heel causing irritation, and outright anger, to motorists who believe they are being press ganged by governments, and other interested groups, into purchasing vehicles that lose value before your very eyes!

Perhaps this loss factor is one of the reasons ‘Electric Vehicles’ are becoming quickly referred to as “Disposable Vehicles”. Buy it, and throw it away!

A good buy? I think not. To put it right they’ve sadly got a very long way to go!