BY Andre Labonte

It appears Even UK drivers have gotten the memo and are starting to see the benefit of new technology. However, in spite of electric cars becoming more popular in recent years, many people still believe misconceptions about them, according to a new study cited in the British Independent by reporter Grant Bailey which was based on a poll of 2,000 car drivers.

The report stated that some believed an electric car could not be driven through puddles, and some (about 5%) actually, thought electric cars were less safe than regular cars, citing construction concerns and media reports of battery explosions. Nearly 20% of respondents believed an electric car would actually slow down as the battery discharges. A spokesman for Volkswagen, who commissioned the study said:

“Electric vehicles are becoming more mainstream, but it seems many people still have lots of unanswered questions about them. Despite overwhelming evidence showing them to be beneficial on environmental grounds, some motorists still have concerns over safety, battery life and charging issues clearly it is the job of us in the automotive industry to answer these questions, get the correct information out there and make electric vehicles a viable option for people buying new cars in the next few years.”

Through all the misinformation, however, the study still indicated nearly six in 10 Britons would like to own an electric car someday and would even consider one as their next vehicle. The most asked questions in the comments portion of the study were.

“How quickly do they charge up?” followed by “How quickly do they run out of charge?”

Fifty-two percent of drivers also wanted to know how much it cost to fill the “tank” with electricity from a charge point. Almost 1 in 3 interviewed believed that by the year 2025 most people in the UK would be driving an electric car, leaving internal combustion vehicles in decline. In fact, 46 percent of current respondents said they would like to do their bit for the environment by driving one.

Closer to home, if we look at the electric car phenomenon through our Bermuda lens, we have inherently different problems, but also because of our smaller size perhaps outsized advantages. Where most jurisdictions in the world have real-world range anxiety to deal with that is decidedly not an issue here on Bermuda’s 21.5 sq miles. Our small size and remoteness actually work to our advantage to going green with local gasoline prices broaching the $10 a gallon level, even expensive electricity can be a bargain.

New things are …well new. Most of the innovation pouring into the vehicle space is being pushed by the likes of Tesla and some of the other Silicon Valley cutting edge tech companies. That along with the major push by China because of air quality and other pollution concerns have in the last several years driven them to the lead on electric cars in general and battery technology in particular.

We as a family finally made the leap in August of last year and patiently waited for our car to arrive. After an excruciating 5 months, our shiny new electric car arrived and our questions began. “Is it hard to charge?” Well…no you plug it in when necessary, kind of like your phone. “Do you need a special charger?” Well no… you do need an outlet outside but a regular 120V outlet will do. It will just take longer about 10 or 11 hrs from full discharge to full top-up. “Oh, that seems like a lot, what happens if you’re in Somerset and don’t have any charge left to get back to St. George’s?” …Really? Ok,… so here’s the deal, we have been plugging the car in about once a week, for the last 12 months, give or take (we’ve gone as long as 12 or 13 days on a couple of occasions). we have never gotten below 50 km of charge remaining. EVER. Range anxiety doesn’t exist in Bermuda. Period. But it might be hard to see that till you’ve actually experienced it, we couldn’t. So now I can talk about it from the other side because we have the data and we know how good it is.

Speaking of data, cost, that is the big one. How much do you spend extra on electricity, that’s the big one. “Electricity in Bermuda is so expensive, so you spend a lot right?” WRONG. Our electricity bill has increased by about $58 a month. To put that in perspective we were spending about $180 -$220 per month on gasoline. Our driving hasn’t changed if anything we are driving more now because …well…it is so much fun to drive. Yes, that is the one thing that doesn’t get much attention in the discussion, electric cars are wickedly fun to drive, instant torque, and because of the low centre of gravity of the heavy battery pack under the car it sticks to the road, it’s an uncanny experience and incredible fun. It puts a grin on your face, Spoiler alert …you will get hooked 🙂

So lastly to put a fine point on the expensive argument, a $35-$40K internal combustion engine car in Bermuda will cost you almost $80K over 10 years, including fuel and ongoing maintenance. A similar priced electric car would cost about $50K, maintenance is minimal electricity is cheaper…..

So.. who’s expensive now??

Andre Labonte has an MA in Leading Innovation and Change from York St. John York UK

Special thanks to :

Grant Bailey – British Independent and The Sun

EVolution Motors Bermuda - Transport Re-Imagined