Today, in view of registrations, combustion vehicles remain the norm. Nevertheless, in 2019, 42,764 electric vehicles (EVs) were registered in France. When a person thinks about changing vehicles, the classic trade-off between combustion vehicles is changing. Electric vehicles are becoming part of this arbitration, and together we will see the advantages they oppose to combustion vehicles.
First observation we can establish in a simple way: without an exhaust, how could an electric vehicle emit CO₂? It’s simply impossible!
Of course, when you are interested in the environmental impact of a vehicle, you have to look at its entire life cycle. On this point, it is clear that even the electric vehicle has ecological weaknesses and we will see which ones.
First, its source of energy: electricity. Indeed, the production of electricity can be polluting. For example, China produces 70% of its electricity thanks to its coal-fired power stations, and therefore fossil combustion, an activity harmful to the environment. In France, we talk more about carbon-free energy, because production is mainly achieved through nuclear power plants. Nevertheless, it is estimated that the production of renewable energies (photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, etc.) will continue to increase and thus reduce the environmental impact of the production of electricity.
Battery life cycle
Another downside for electric vehicles: batteries. Indeed, many people wonder about the life cycle of this storage medium. What about production and recycling? Lithium-ion batteries are produced in countries with few environmental standards, especially when extracting the raw materials necessary for their manufacture. As for recycling, it is still too unattractive economically and we do not yet have enough perspective on the methods used. Nevertheless, the European Union is committed to this process, which is encouraging. In addition, apart from this recycling process, we must think about the second life that these batteries can have. Although they are no longer usable for EVs, they can be used to store renewable energy.
Another strong point of the electric vehicle compared to a combustion vehicle: its driving comfort.
From the very start you can feel a glaring difference. The electric vehicle is said to be “nervous”, especially over the first hundred meters. This acceleration capacity is due to the torque and the unique transmission system of electric vehicles. These vehicles also offer exceptional handling thanks to the batteries’ weight which sticks the car to the ground.
In addition, quieter than an electric vehicle is not possible and that is very comfortable. Also forget the vibrations that annoy you so much in your vehicle. Many electric vehicle users say it is more relaxing and zen and therefore they pay more attention to the dangers on the road.
Say goodbye to going to the pump
Finally, comfort also means no longer having to go to the gas station to refuel in the morning when you leave for work! You can recharge your batteries at home, in a public place during a meal break, for example, or at your workplace. How wonderful!
Finally, when buying a vehicle, the main questions revolve around its reliability and its cost (two questions often linked, because a lack of reliability leads to costs). We will see that over its life cycle, the electric vehicle has a financial advantage over combustion vehicles.
Electric/combustion vehicle comparison
The purchase: advantage of the combustion vehicle
Let’s start with the only financial point where the combustion vehicle still has an advantage: the purchase price. In 2020, the purchase of a combustion vehicle remains lower than that of an electric vehicle of a similar category. However, this advantage tends to reduce and certainly disappear. This is what a study conducted by Bloomberg estimates. The crossing point, that is to say the moment when the price of electric vehicles will meet that of combustion vehicles is approaching and is expected in 2022. The reasons for this merger lie mainly in the drop in manufacturing costs, and in particular in the manufacturing costs of the batteries.
However, the COVID-19 crisis and the revival of the automotive sector focused on hybrid plug-in and 100% plug-in vehicles could lead to the arrival of this crossing point more quickly than expected. For more information about this relaunch, we invite you to read our article Covid-19: what future for the automotive sector? In addition, there are many aids for the purchase of an EV like the ecological bonus (up to 6,000 €) or the conversion bonus, if you decide to replace a vehicle registered before 2001. Thus, the choice between the two vehicles will soon no longer be linked to its cost.
Maintenance: electric vehicle advantage
The maintenance of your vehicle, whether combustion or electric, is one of the keys to its proper functioning over time. It is therefore an important expense item for any owner and user of a vehicle. Ensuring that your electric vehicle is working properly is less expensive. Why?
On an EV, the mechanics are simplified and mainly boil down to a battery, an electric motor and a transmission system without a gearbox. Thus, the risk of breakage or wear of parts is reduced and the first returns to the electric motor show a certain longevity and almost no maintenance. In addition, goodbye changing oil, the timing belt, spark plugs etc. The maintenance of certain parts remains common to both types of vehicle: windshield wipers, brake pads or tires. The EV must still benefit from a special maintenance concerning the batteries with a visit to check their condition about once a year.
Overall, it is estimated that the maintenance cost of an electric vehicle is around 25% lower than that of a combustion vehicle. It should be added that the cost of insurance is also lower because there are generally fewer accidents involving electric vehicles.
Full of fuel vs. charging: electric vehicle advantage
Finally, in addition to no longer going to the gas station, say goodbye to the cost of refueling! It seems obvious that the cost of recharging your electric vehicle is less than a full tank of gas. Filling up a 22 kW Renault Zoé with batteries costs around 3.50 € with a range of just over 300 km.
However, you still have to think about the variation in the cost of recharging depending on where you do it. To do this, we invite you to consult our article dedicated to this subject.
To sum up, the electric vehicle is overhauling the classic trade-off between combustion vehicles. It has real advantages that will continue to grow, especially financially. EVs have not finished being talked about!