The 5 biggest problems with electric vehicles

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Tesla

The electric vehicle market has been on a roll lately and shows no signs of slowing down. We have awesome cars and rugged electric trucks. And while most electric vehicles are sleek, fast, powerful and offer the latest luxury features, it’s not all good news.

They promised us zero emissions and rechargeable ecological vehicles that can drive for days, but we have not yet arrived. There are still some downsides when it comes to electric vehicles. So, while a future with electric cars is just around the corner, how fast is the most important question.

Availability of electric vehicles

Rivian R1T electric truck
Rivian

While electric vehicles are exciting and new, buying and receiving one is perhaps the biggest issue right now. After the government mandated the rise of electric cars, we’ve seen all the major players in the automotive space make moves, but not fast enough.

Manufacturers like Ford, KIA, Subaru, Toyota, GM, Jeep, Chevrolet and more have announced upcoming electric cars or plans to offer EVs soon. A fascinating but also worrying area is electric trucks. We’ve seen newcomers like Rivian launch the R1T, but supply constraints and creating a new automotive brand from scratch have proven challenging.

Even an established brand like Ford is also struggling. Ford hopes to build and sell approximately 40,000 units of its newly released F-150 Lightning EV this year. For comparison, Ford sold more than 700,000 gas-powered F-150s in 2021, which is a substantial difference. The company cannot manufacture enough F-150 Lightning trucks to meet demand.

Another great example is Tesla. In early 2022, Tesla broke all of its delivery records despite supply chain issues, but it’s still not enough. If you ask for any Tesla model today, it will not be sent to your door for several months, if not more. In fact, many models are completely exhausted until mid -2023.

While all the major players in the automotive sector are working on fully electric cars and trucks, finding one in stock is a problem. Then, when it does, some merchants add incredible margins, more than double the price.

The demand is huge, but the supply is minuscule. And don’t get me started on some of the prices lately.

handling area

EV charging ahead sign
Albert Pego / Shutterstock.com

We recently saw a scary story on social media claiming that electric cars are more likely to die and get stuck during a traffic jam. Which suggests they’re dangerous, they don’t come with heaters, the air conditioning isn’t efficient, and electric vehicles will run out of battery in about three hours during a traffic jam.

That’s completely untrue, but it’s not hard to see why some are hesitant to get an EV. Range anxiety is real, but it’s not hard to avoid if you plan accordingly. That said, you can’t just go to a nearby gas station to get fuel, and instead have to search and find a charging station. Then once it does, it takes a little longer to recharge than it does to fill a tank with gas.

For example, the base Hyundai IONIQ 5 SE with all-wheel drive only gets about 256 miles of range on a single charge, but upgraded models get it closer to 300 miles per charge. Tesla’s cheaper Model 3 in the standard range option (which is no longer available) only got about 220 miles per charge. That’s not bad, but it’s certainly not very good either.

By comparison, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra gas vehicle can achieve around 462 city miles and around 602 highway miles on a full tank of gas.

Electric vehicles are coming with more efficient motors, larger battery packs, and faster charging speeds every day. But for now, range anxiety will remain something for many. The future looks bright, but it’s not quite here yet.

Charging time and speeds

Tesla Model S parked next to a line of superchargers
Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock.com

Another aspect of EVs that old gas-vehicle fans are quick to point out is charging times and speeds, and they’re not wrong. It certainly takes longer to charge an EV than it does to put gas in my truck.

Electric vehicles are supposed to be easy, they require less maintenance and make driving again. But when you start worrying about where your car will charge, how long it will take, and whether or not you’ll be able to find a fast-charging station, some of that fun quickly dissipates.

In 2021, Business Insider reported that 1 in 5 electric vehicle owners in California switched back to gas-powered cars due to charging issues or problems. Keep in mind that new charging stations are appearing every day, but you’ll still need to factor that into your purchase decision. More importantly, you’ll also want to factor charging times, speeds, and prices into travel plans. That said, for short commutes to work, it’ll be fine and you can just charge at home.

We didn’t want to dive too deep into the cost of charging an EV here, as it constantly changes based on location, time of day, and more, but it’s another concern. While it’s undoubtedly cheaper to charge an EV than it is to buy gas these days, electricity prices are rising.

electrical network

graph showing the power grid, households and electric vehicles
petovarga / Shutterstock.com

Speaking of electricity, what about the electrical grid? This is another common argument on social media, but honestly, the question is still up for debate. I have read countless articles suggesting that the grid can handle the rise of electric vehicles well, provided it is managed properly. You’ll also find reports from The Washington Post and others suggesting the grid isn’t ready yet.

I’m not so sure. We have seen problems with the power grid in California and Texas. Also, here in Las Vegas, there were times last summer when the power company asked everyone to use less air conditioning during peak hours. Imagine those same struggles but with millions of electric vehicles needing juice too.

Considering that the battery inside the F-150 Lightning EV can power a house for between 3 and 10 days, depending on usage, it shows how much power electric cars really need. As of 2020, there were approximately 276 million registered cars in the United States. Yes, many of them are not daily drivers, but what happens when 20 million electric vehicles need to be charged or 50 million?

How will the electric grid handle electric vehicles from almost every major manufacturer that need power to keep the battery charged and ready for a daily or road trip? Now, I’m not saying that the power grid can’t handle it or that it can’t scale. with growth of electric vehicles, but it remains a concern.

It’s a potential issue that will need work, just like battery capacity, range, and other issues need some improvement. Otherwise, EV owners may end up charging their vehicles outside of business hours to try to save money.

Trailer

F-150 Lightning towing an Airstream trailer
oneguynick

Americans love trucks. The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling truck in America for 45 years in a row. That’s because it’s the perfect blend of utility, commute, work, and freedom. You can go to the workplace, take the family out to dinner, then charge it up and go camping for the weekend.

However, over the past few months, we’ve learned that while electric trucks are incredibly exciting and show a lot of promise on and off the road, towing will remain a sore spot for the foreseeable future. Recently, several tests show that electric trucks lose around 50%, if not more, of their range when towing a trailer or a boat.

So if you have that fancy new F-150 Lightning EV that’s supposed to go 300+ miles on a charge, but is loaded with the whole family, gear, and a trailer, you’ll need a charging station in 150 miles or less. Just to be sure. Then you need to stop for 20-30 minutes to recharge. Again, it’s not the worst thing in the world, and EV buyers are aware of these challenges, but it’s still a problem we hope future vehicles can solve.

Electric trucks are still new and exciting, and (at the time of writing) only two are available in the United States: the Ford F-150 Lightning and the Rivian R1T. We’ll eventually see a new Chevy Silverado EV, the RAM 1500 EV in 2024, and many others. Perhaps by then, we’ll have better technology to take our electric cars and trucks further than ever before.


I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t buy an electric vehicle. There are many excellent reasons to buy one. This is just a reminder that technology is new and evolving, and the future of the all-electric vehicle I want is not here yet.