They are fast becoming a mainstream choice but some common misconceptions remain

Electric vehicles are fast becoming the preferred choice among consumers, both private users and commercial fleets like cabs and last mile delivery fleets. Backed by solid government support through central and state level policies and schemes, and the automotive industry itself investing heavily in going electric, the world’s fourth largest automotive market is actively transitioning to electric.

While awareness around the environmental and cost benefits of electric vehicles is growing, there are still some common myths or misconceptions about vehicle range, battery technology and charging.

In this article, we bust seven common myths about electric vehicles.

MYTH 1: Electric vehicles are slow and have a very low range

FACT: Contrary to this belief, electric vehicles have better acceleration than ICE versions as they are powered by an electric motor that generates 100% available torque immediately without the use of any gears. The most affordable EV in the market - Tata Nexon EV max - can accelerate from 0 - 60 kmph in 4.6 seconds in sports mode and 6.4 seconds in city mode, compared to its petrol version which takes 5.93 seconds. A TVS Ntorq takes 9.2 seconds for 0 - 60 kmph and Ather takes 8.92 seconds, much faster than ICE scooters.

Fig 1 - The much awaited IONIQ 5 by Hyundai with over 500 kms range at full charge

With innovations in vehicle technology, there are several EV models across two, three and four wheelers that provide a range comparable ICEs. EVs can easily accommodate the average daily mileage of Indian drivers. For instance, an electric Tata Nexon can provide a range of 400+ km or a Hyundai IONIQ 5 has a range of 600+ km at full charge. Similarly, a few electric two-wheelers like Gravton Quanta and Simple One have a certified range of 300+ km, which is almost the same as a petrol two-wheeler.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency states that the average range of electric two-wheelers currently available in India is around 84 km per charge, which is enough for day-to-day travel within a city. The average range of electric cars is between 150-200 km per charge. Furthermore, with the expansion of battery swapping technology in India, recharging two and three wheelers will be as fast as fuelling one’s vehicle, further improving the range of EVs.

MYTH 2: India’s charging infrastructure makes electric vehicles an unfavourable choice

FACT: India’s charging infrastructure has seen rapid growth since 2020 and as of January 2023, the country has 5,254 public EV charging stations to cater to a total of 20.65 lakh EVs. Also, global estimates suggest that nearly 80% of EV charging happens at home or when the vehicle is stationary in parking lots. Therefore, a better assessment of charging infrastructure growth is the availability of charging points in homes and public places. This is fast growing in many cities, especially Delhi which has close to 2,452 charging points.

Fig 2 - Charging points set up in one of Delhi’s public parking spaces

Further, the Ministry of Power’s guidelines state that there should be at least one charging station available in a 3x3 km grid across the country and one charging station every 25 km on both sides of highways and roads. In a bid to accelerate the mass adoption of EVs, several state government policies have also mandated new buildings, parking areas and office spaces to have established charging facilities. Oil companies have announced the setting up of 22,000 EV charging stations in prominent cities and on national highways across the country – 10,000 will be installed by IOCL, 7,000 will be installed by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL), and 5,000 will be installed by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HPCL). This shows that EV charging infrastructure is on the right track in the country.

MYTH 3: Electric vehicles take a long time to charge

FACT: One of the major concerns among consumers is the charging time of EVs and battery durability. Technological advancements have reduced the charging time of EVs considerably. Some four-wheeler EVs like Kia EV6 can reach 80% charge in around 18 minutes on a rapid charge, whereas the Tata Nexon EV Max takes around 56 mins for the same. Electric two-wheelers like the Ather 450X can be 80% charged in 4 hours and 30 minutes and can be fast-charged to a 15 km range in 10 minutes.

Fig 3 - Companies like Log9 and Kazam are installing fact charging stations all over India

The time of charging depends upon the type of charger used. As per the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, currently available electric vehicles across two-wheeler, three-wheeler, and four-wheeler segments can be charged from 0%-80% in around 1 – 5 hours from slow to moderate chargers. If using a fast charger, EVs can be charged in less than 1 hour.

MYTH 4: Electric vehicle batteries only last a few years

FACT: Most EV batteries have a life beyond that of the vehicle for storing energy as the batteries used are superior and designed to offer a long service life. Going by current industry standards, most EVs today offer a battery warranty of a minimum of eight years and 1,60,934 km. For instance, Tesla offers an eight-year battery warranty and coverage of between 160934 – 241402 km depending on the model. Meanwhile, Hyundai IONIQ 5 offers a coverage of 10 years or 1,60,934 km. It also covers battery degradation if the pack loses no more than 30 per cent of its original charge during the warranty period.

MYTH 5: Electric vehicles aren’t safe for waterlogged roads

FACT: All electric vehicles come with compliance to an Ingress Protection (IP) standard which signifies that their electrical components are well-sealed and unlikely to provide an electrical hazard. Most EVs have an IP67 rating or more – where the 67 represents the protection against two elements, dust and water. An IP67 rating allows an object to remain submerged in water up to 1 metre for 30 minutes without any harm. Anything past 67 is generally used for specialized equipment such as submarines.

Fig 4 - Tata Tigor EV being tested to drive through waterlogged areas

MYTH 6: India’s electricity grid doesn’t have enough power to support electric vehicles

FACT: India has committed to having 500 GW of installed Renewable Energy capacity by 2030. The current weighted average emission factor of India for the national grid has been nearly constant between 2013-2019 at 0.82 tCO2/MWh. As the share of renewables increases and dependency on coal decreases, the overall emissions from electric vehicle use will also decrease further.

If India achieves 33% EV sales penetration by 2030, it will result in an additional 37 TWh of electricity demand. During the same time, India’s electricity production will grow to 2074 TWh. EVs would account for less than 1.3% of overall electricity demand, thereby proving little impact on India’s grid.

MYTH 7: Electric vehicles are prone to catching fires

FACT: The recent spurt in electric vehicles, especially two wheelers, catching fire has impacted consumer confidence in the new technology. While these incidents have been unfortunate, studies actually point to the fact that electric vehicles are least prone to catching fire compared to petrol and diesel, or hybrid. In the US, a more mature EV market, an assessment of fires shows that EV fires were only 25 in 100,000 units sold, compared to 1,529 for ICE in the same units sold.

MYTH 8: Electric vehicles aren’t as energy efficient & clean for the environment as they claim to be

FACT: Electric vehicles can convert about 59%–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Meanwhile, conventional petrol vehicles can only convert around 17%–21% of the energy from burning fuel. In addition, EVs can convert over 85 per cent of electrical energy into mechanical energy, or motion, compared to less than 40 per cent for a petrol engine. This signifies that an EV is roughly three times as efficient as an ICE vehicle.

EVs also typically have a smaller carbon footprint than ICE vehicles, even when we take into account the carbon footprint of manufacturing batteries or the electricity used for charging. Studies have shown that on average, petrol or diesel cars in Europe emit almost three times more carbon dioxide than an EV. Another popular argument against EVs is that they are not a clean source of transport until the electricity used to charge them is also generated from renewable or other clean energy sources. However, various studies have shown that even if EVs are charged by electricity produced from fossil fuels, they still emit less carbon. Further, EVs have no direct tailpipe emissions, which is a huge contribution to reducing air pollution as vehicular emissions are rapidly becoming the leading cause of pollution in many cities.