Buying an Electric Vehicle: Part 3
Everything You Need to Know About Buying an Electric Vehicle
PART 3: BATTERIES
Welcome to Part Three of our Five-Part series: Everything You Need to Know About Buying an Electric Vehicle. In this installment we’ll focus on the two things that electric vehicle buyers worry about most: range and battery life.
Range is less of an issue than you think. Really. Modern EVs can go upwards of 350 kms on a single charge, and PHEVs and HEVs can boost that range to a mind-blowing 1000+ kms on a single tank. In this article we’ll focus mainly on how far each type of electric vehicle will take you so you can make the best decision for your lifestyle, now and into the future.
Batteries are the single-most feared subject when it comes to buying an electric vehicle, second only to perhaps range-anxiety, both of which we’re covering in this article. We’ve all heard how expensive they are to replace, and it seems every internet know-all has an opinion. We’ll take a look at the facts and take a peek into caring for your battery to ensure it lasts for years and years to come. Buckle-up, this is a good one.
RANGE AND DISTANCE-TO-EMPTY
Electric-Only Vehicles (EVs)
With the current generation of EVs able to run more than 350 km on a single charge, the range shouldn’t be a factor holding you back from purchasing an EV. In Victoria, most residents would never have need of greater range for day-to-day commuting or errands, or even a trip to Mount Washington (with a short stop at a DC Charging Station in Nanaimo or Courtenay). Nevertheless, you will still want to make sure your car’s range is at least sufficient for your daily commute and regular weekend activities.
Ideal consumer: With a range of 250-350 kms, EVs are the perfect fit for most drivers when it comes to work, errands, and play. However, if you go on frequent high-mileage road trips that exceed your range, a PHEV or HEV might be the better purchase. But if you only go on long road trips once or twice a year, many drivers are opting to rent a gasoline-powered vehicle for their annual Albertan pilgrimage to visit Cousin Joe, or that once-in-a-lifetime fishing expedition up north. Many two-car families purchase an EV as their primary car, retaining a secondary vehicle for their other driving needs.
A note of caution: If you only have on-street parking or live in an older condo or apartment building without a charging station you will be limited in your charging options. We believe that with some judicious planning, and a dose of passion, you can get by solely using public charging stations. Or you may find that an HEV is a right option for you right now.
Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs)
If you are worried about the range of an exclusively electric vehicle, go on frequent long road trips, or do not have regular access to a charging station, PHEVs are a fantastic option. The Kia Optima PHEV and Kia Niro PHEV can both travel 40+ kms before the gas engine turns on, less than a typical commute from the Western Communities into downtown. In Victoria, most residents with a PHEV would never have a need for a gasoline-powered engine during their day-to-day commutes. This makes them a great compromise between conventional hybrids and battery-only electric vehicles: minimal environmental footprint for day-to-day driving combined with the benefit of long-range gasoline-powered reliability when you need it for extended road trips and holidays.
Ideal consumer: With a range of about 40 kms, PHEVs are a great commuting vehicle. Because you can rely on the gas-powered engine when the battery is low, they are ideal for drivers who do not have at-home access to a charging station, such as people with on-street parking only or people who live in older apartment buildings on condos that do not yet have a charging station installed. With a PHEV, you still need to watch your battery gauge, but it takes a lot less time to charge. They’re also ideal for wandering souls who go on frequent high-mileage road trips: keeping your daily commute emissions-free while affording yourself the freedom to travel greater distances without worry.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
If you are looking for a lower entry price-point but still want a smaller environmental footprint, an HEV might be more your style. The Kia Niro HEV has outstanding fuel economy and range but runs $8,000 less than the Kia Niro PHEV. And what a range it is: the 2017 Niro received a Guinness World Record title for the lowest fuel consumption driving across the USA from coast to coast in a hybrid car. The new record-setting mark is an incredible 32.57 kms/litre (76.6 mpg).
Ideal consumer: HEVs are great commuting vehicles for drivers who do not have regular access to a charging station, such as people unable to install an at-home charging station due to factors such as not being able to upgrade to 200 amp service, or only having access to on-street parking. They’re also ideal for people who live in older apartment buildings or condos that do not yet have a charging station installed. They’re also great for people just looking for phenomenal mileage on a single tank.
BATTERY LIFE AND LONGEVITY
Arguably the biggest roadblock holding people back from EV ownership is fear that the battery won’t last, and will cost a fortune to replace - or will dramatically lower the value of the car if you try to sell it in the degraded condition. We’ll try to address those fears here.
Electric vehicle battery lifespan, like engines in conventional vehicles, is designed for a long life but will wear out eventually. Currently, Kia Canada offers an industry-leading 8-year/160,000-kilometre warranty for their vehicles, including the batteries.
The cost of batteries has dropped dramatically in recent years. That’s why you see the MSRP coming down significantly on most EV models compared to 10 years ago. Lower battery costs mean lower EV prices and lower replacement battery prices. Most drivers will never get to that point, however, especially if they follow proven advice.
Manufacturers have built-in precautions so you can’t overcharge, over-discharge, or overheat: the three biggest killers of battery longevity. But while you don’t need to baby your battery, you do need to respect it.
Driving habits and conditions will affect battery life. All batteries have their life shortened by heat. So in the absence of a quality thermal conditioning and cooling system all batteries will lose more life in Mexico versus Canada. The good news is, the Kia Soul and Kia Niro have a state-of-the art liquid cooled battery pack that isn’t available in similar models from other manufacturers.
Driving aggressively or in extreme conditions (such as extreme heat, or altitude) will cause the battery to lose capacity faster. Keeping your battery in good condition by driving reasonably, charging regularly (but not constantly), plugging in for battery conditioning during severe weather, and maintaining regular inspection schedules will all have a positive impact on the lifespan of your battery. With some simple precautions, you should be able to reach your destination with battery life to spare for years and years to come.
Check out the article written by our experts at Kia Victoria, The Seven Biggest Mistakes That People Make with Their EV Battery That Will Cost You, for a definitive list of everything you need to know about your battery.
TIP: Take care of your battery by keeping up with regular scheduled maintenance and inspections, and by following all manufacturer schedules and advice.
We hope you found this article helpful. Stay tuned for Buying an Electric Vehicle PART FOUR: Cost Savings and Carbon Footprint. We’ve included everything you need to know about the true cost of your vehicle, for your wallet and the planet.
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