From January to August 2021, 38,744 were registered in Italy electric cars, which represent only 3.6% of the overall 1,069,875 delivered in the same period. So rather small numbers, which however represent 500% more than the 6,455 registered in the same period of 2019. growing market also driven by the many innovations that the car manufacturers are presenting. But the doubts and questions are still many: let’s see some answers.
ARE ELECTRIC CARS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THOSE WITH A COMBUSTION ENGINE?
Yes, the difference price is still remarkable compared to conventional cars. To give an example, let’s take a model that is available with both an internal combustion engine and an electric one: the Hyundai Kona 1.6 CRDI Xtech 48V, which has 136 HP, costs 25,150 euros, while the Electric Xtech City with a 39 kWh battery is the same. power, costs 35,850 euros. There are therefore more than 10,000 euros of difference due, above all, to the still high costs of batteries, which are destined to decrease in the coming years with the greater diffusion of electric cars. Generally the incentives state governments reduce the price difference, but do not cancel it.
ARE ELECTRIC CARS DIFFICULT TO CHARGE?
In addition to the still high purchase price, uncertainty about charging is one of the most limiting factors in the spread of electric cars. Who can Reload a home (or in the office) is favored, also because the average distance of Italians is a few tens of km per day. A 3-hour charge at just 2.5 kW allows you to recover about 50 km of autonomy, more than enough for city use. In any case it is advisable to have one installed in the garage wallbox (there are from 3.7 up to 22 kW of power), which involves installation costs (which can range from 500 to 1,500 euros approximately, payable also in subsequent bills) and a monthly fee, but allows faster and stable. And how much does it cost to fill up? It is necessary to consider an average price of energy between 0.20 and 0.23 euros for each kWh (in the protected market): then charge a 40 kWh battery it costs around 8-9 euros, for a range of about 270 km.
Without the possibility of charging at home (or in the workplace) the difficulties increase, because it is necessary to contact the public charging points, already about 12,000 today. And here a world opens up because the problems that can be found are innumerable: the column does not work, our payment system fails, it is already occupied, it is not reachable because someone has parked in front and so on. Furthermore, their distribution is uneven in the various areas of Italy, even if the number is constantly increasing, especially in places of usual frequentation such as shopping and recreational centers. The rates are decidedly variable and are determined by the type of column by the operator providing the service and by the speed of recharging. Charging the car at the public columns costs about 0.45-0.50 euros per kWh supplied. So for a 100% charge of a 40 kWh mid-size battery, you spend about between 19 and 29 euros.
DO ELECTRIC CARS ALLOW YOU TO TAKE LONG TRIPS?
Yes, but as long as you arm yourself with great patience and above all plan your journey with great care. The most modern electric cars now have a decent range and driving even 350-400 km on one charge is possible. The problem arises when you need to refuel and here the big difference will be the installation of charging points in the normal service stations found on highways and state roads. To date, almost always, it is necessary to leave the motorway and look for a fast column. Yes, because when traveling it is unthinkable to leave the car charging for hours: the fast columns are therefore essential. So you need to plan your trip in advance to stop in areas with fast recharges. The location is often provided by the same multimedia system as the cars, or there are smartphone apps that help locate the nearest petrol station.
And, in any case, the inevitable must be budgeted time extensions: each stop for recharging can last a long time depending on the power of the column. The fast ones that supply 22 kW of alternating current, are able to recharge a 40 kWh battery to 100% in about two hours. This time is halved if you choose a faster 50 kW column that will charge a 40 kWh battery in an hour or less. If you want to reach only up to 80% charge and times can be much lower but never less than 30-40 minutes. And then you have to budget for any unforeseen events, such as out of order column, payment method not working, seat occupied and so on.
IS THE ELECTRIC CAR REALLY CLEANER?
Other hot topic widely debated even within the industry is that of the effective “cleaning” of electric cars. Since emissions during use are zero, a comparison with conventional cars only makes sense if you look at the CO2 produced in the life cycle. A Transport & Environment (T&A) study concluded that the average CO2 emissions of electric cars in Europe in 2020 are about three times lower than those of comparable petrol / diesel cars: 90 g CO₂eq / km compared to 234 g CO₂eq / km for a diesel vehicle and 253g CO₂eq / km for a petrol car.
If the electricity used by battery-powered cars becomes “cleaner”, thanks to renewable energies, the benefit will further increase. Emissions are indicated in grams of CO₂ equivalent to standardize the various types of “fuel”. These data are interesting because they also take into account the CO2 emissions generated to build the batteries, a majority share of overall emissions to date. The very high efficiency allows to drastically reduce the equivalent emissions in the life cycle, more than offsetting those of the battery construction.
ARE THE CONSTRUCTION AND RECYCLING OF BATTERIES VERY POLLUTING?
These issues are an inexhaustible source of discussion, but remember that emissions in production and disposal are part of the T&A calculations (see previous question). The presence of cobalt and lithium raises questions about the ethics of extraction (it is known of child-miners enslaved in lithium mines) and the toxicity of cobalt. For these reasons, many manufacturers are certifying themselves for the use of controlled extraction processes that respect human rights.
Studies to have cobalt-free lithium batteries they are well advanced and those with iron phosphate, which do not have them, are already in use. Regarding their end of life (after use in stationary storage), initiatives are multiplying for the recovery and reuse of the raw materials used, including the controversial cobalt and lithium. In this sector, however, there is still a lot to do and certainly the new generation batteries will allow a more effective disposal / recycling than the current one.
HOW LONG DO ELECTRIC CAR BATTERIES LAST?
Regarding the duration, there are certainly aspects that need to be improved and that denounce the fact that these technologies are still a bit immature. However, the standard warranty for battery packs is generally 8 years or 160,000 km and this is reassuring, not to mention that concrete cases report even double distances with tolerable drops in capacity. And it is precisely the drivers who can extend the life of the batteries, never completely discharging them and avoiding 100% recharges as much as possible.
Automotive lithium batteries are air-conditioned and more robust than cell phone batteries and therefore have a much longer lifespan. In any case, when they are no longer suitable for use in the car, they can be used, for example, as accumulators for photovoltaic systems (pictured above). This means that they will have value and then they can be sold to the car manufacturer, or third-party companies, making a profit to be used to buy the new batteries.
ARE ELECTRIC CARS LESS SPRING THAN TRADITIONAL CARS?
No, in fact the opposite is often valid: modern electric cars, thanks to powerful and torque-rich engines already at speeds close to zero rpm, are very perky. Without bothering sports models such as Tesla Model S or Porsche Taycan we see the comparison between two more normal cars: the Hyundai Kona 1.0 T-GDI with 120 HP, according to the manufacturer, accelerates from 0 to 100 km / h in 11.5 seconds, while the Hyundai Kona Electric 39 kWh, which has 136 horsepower but weighs more (1,535 kg against 1,237), sprints in 9.7 seconds.