Electric Vehicle Myth-buster

Many staff might have concerns about switching from a fossil-fuel engine to an electric vehicle ('EV'). Here, we run through some of these reservations and bust some myths.

Myth 1: “Electric Vehicles are expensive”

Whilst it is true that the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is usually more than a fossil-fuel powered one, upfront costs are not the only thing to think about. You will spend a lot less on ongoing running costs with an EV than a traditional car, as charging an EV is about a quarter of the cost of buying fuel. For example:

For a petrol engine with an efficiency of 40mpg, and a petrol price of 150p per litre, driving 200 miles will cost you about £35 in fuel.

Meanwhile, an EV with a 50kWh battery and a range of 200 miles will cost about £14.50 to fully recharge, assuming an electricity cost of 29p per kWh.

So in this example (based on energy prices on the 9th November 2023), driving the EV costs 7p per mile, whilst the petrol car costs 17.5p per mile. This difference will add up to thousands of pounds of savings in even just one year of driving.

Plus, upfront costs are coming down all the time, as the technology develops and the market rapidly re-orientates itself towards EVs. Servicing costs are often less too, as maintenance is simpler and less frequent because EVs have fewer moving parts to go wrong.1

Finally, even if the upfront cost of buying an electric vehicle outright is too high, you could look to the second-hand market. The Energy Savings Trust offer interest-free loans to help spread the cost of a second-hand EV purchase.2 You could also consider leasing as an option.

Myth 2: “An EV would run out of power before I reach my destination”

The range anxiety of early EV adopters is no longer a major problem. Battery technology has improved a lot in the past decade, and is continuing to improve. The average range of a pure electric vehicle is now 197 miles on a single charge, with many managing more than that.3 So if you are going on a long road trip, you will need to recharge every few hundred miles – but you should be stopping for a rest that frequently anyway, so that you can stay focused on the road.

In normal usage though, the vast majority of journeys will not challenge an EV’s battery range. You could commute from anywhere in the Central Belt to Edinburgh without worrying about running out of power. And most people don’t even travel that far on a day-to-day basis: 70% of all journeys made in Scotland are less than 10 kilometres.4

Myth 3: “I don’t have anywhere to recharge”

Even if you don’t have a private driveway in which to install your own fast charger, you can still use an electric vehicle. There are EV chargers at most University of Edinburgh campuses (you can view them on our campus map, here), as well as a public network of over 25,000 charging points across the UK.5 This network is expanding rapidly, and it is easier than ever to find somewhere to recharge. For comparison, in the 10 years since 2013, the number of publiuc charge points in Scotland has grown from 55 to over 2,200.6 You can view a map of public charging points on the Chargeplace Scotland website.

Can I charge my EV at home?

With a home charge-point, you can charge your EV overnight in your driveway, when electricity is cheapest, for further cost savings. Whether this is possible in your own home depends on a few factors. Usually you need to ask yourself two questions:  

  • Do you own your own home or have permission to install a home charger from the property owner?
  • Do you have dedicated off street parking with an area for the charger to be wall mounted?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to both of these questions then you are likely to be able to have a charger installed. The cost of installing chargers can be reduced if you take advantage of the EV chargepoint grant, available through the UK Government.7

If you have purchased a second-hand EV through the Scottish Government’s loan scheme, or live in a remote rural area, you may also be eligible for the Energy Saving Trust Domestic Chargepoint Funding Scheme.8

Myth 4: “EVs are just as environmentally harmful as petrol or diesel cars.”

Graph showing lifetime emissions of a new Nissan Leafe versus an existing ICE car.

Although manufacturing emissions from EV production are generally higher than those from building an internal combustion-engined (ICE) vehicle, EVs emit less overall – often one-half to two-thirds less over their lifetime – than ICE cars.9

The vast majority of EV emissions come from their energy-intensive battery manufacturing process. Further environmental damage is caused by the mining of precious metals used in batteries, including EV batteries.

According to the European Environment Agency, EV manufacturers are now aiming to produce their electric cars in carbon-neutral ways and new technology is beginning to improve the efficiency of batteries, making them lighter and less resource-intensive.10 

Furthermore, once emissions from driving are factored in, EVs repay the carbon ‘debt’ from their production very quickly. After just two years of driving (based on 14,000 miles driven per year) EVs will have emitted less carbon than a new ICE car. This gap grows year after year, and EV emissions will continue to fall as countries decarbonize their energy mix.  Even when comparing a brand new EV to continuing to drive an existing car, the carbon debt of manufacturing the new EV is repaid after just 4 years, because of how high tail-pipe emissions are for ICE vehicles.

Of course, the most environmentally way to drive is to do it as little as possible. Whilst EVs are better than ICE cars, EVs still pollute the air with debris from tyre and brake wear, and they are only as low-carbon as the national grid is. Many people drive for journeys which could easily be done by other means. In Scotland, 38% of journeys under 2 miles are done by car11 - but if you do need to drive, an EV is greener than a petrol or diesel car.

Sources and further reading:

  1. 6 myths about electric vehicles busted – National Grid
  2. Used Electric Vehicle Loan - Energy Savings Trust
  3. Electric vehicles: debunking the myths – Energy Saving Trust
  4. Transport and Travel in Scotland 2019: Results from the Scottish Household Survey
  5. Common misconceptions about electric vehicles – UK Government
  6. Chargeplace Scotland website
  7. EV chargepoint grant (Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles)
  8. Domestic Chargepoint Funding Scheme - Energy Savings Trust
  9. Electric vehicles - European Environment Agency
  10. The Future of Sustainable EV Manufacturing - Octopus Energy
  11. Transport and Travel in Scotland 2021: Results from the Scottish Household Survey - Table LA21