Don’t buy a used EV because you don’t know if the previous owner remembered to keep the coolant filled up and the battery pack may have died as a result. That’s the advice given by automotive expert Lauren Fix during a segment on falling EV sales during the month of January on popular right-wing, EV-hating news network Fox Business. She also incorrectly advised that electric cars have tiny cargo carrying capabilities due to their massive battery packs intruding into the cabin, ‘typically’ suffer a 50 percent reduction in range in cold weather, and are worth so little used that they’re really a bad investment anyway. Moreover she adds, there are gasoline and diesel cars on the market which get ‘better gas mileage’ than an EV, so what’s the point anyway?
No, we’re not kidding. Watch this:
Get better gas mileage? Err? What? No, seriously, that’s what she said. But fear not, because we’re about to tell you the many ways she’s got it wrong, so you can put down that paper bag you’re hyperventilating into .
Yes folks, there’s another round of electric vehicle misinformation doing the rounds in the mainstream media and as expected, it’s coming straight at you from the Murdock Empire from the mouth of New York automotive journalist Lauren Fix, AKA “The Car Coach”. While we’ve taken to ignoring en-masse most of these type of segments — especially from Fox — the level of incompetency demonstrated here is so large we just had to bite. So sit back, and read on as we point out just some of the things Fix has said which make absolutely no sense whatsoever, along with the real-world facts to go along with them.
Fix: “People may be thinking EVs aren’t a great choice for me right now” since gas prices are still ‘affordable.’
T.E: While yes, we’re sure someone, somewhere is regretting buying an EV — just like there are hundreds of people regretting their internal combustion engine car purchase — the overwhelming majority of EV owners we know enjoy not paying out for gas every week. Even with gas prices in the U.S. staying relatively low (Nikki paid just $20 to fill up a rental Toyota Prius last week) EV owners stand to save on their purchase due to lower servicing costs, lower insurance, and less time spent queuing for gas.
Fix: “You don’t see [electric cars] in places like New York. San Francisco and Georgia, Atlanta, are where EVs are sold.”
T.E: Wow, just wow. We’ve been all over the U.S., and last time we checked, there were cars like the Tesla Model S in all fifty states. All of them. Admittedly, some areas — like the San Francisco Bay Area — are known for being more EV friendly than others, but when it comes to EV-friendly places where EVs are really popular, Oregon, Washington and New Jersey all come high on the list. And New York? That’s there too, partly thanks to its close proximity to New Jersey. It used to be the case that it was easier to name the places where EVs were popular. These days, it’s easier to name the places where EVs aren’t.
Fix: “Cold weather can actually cut the battery life in half, and that’s pretty typical when the weather is sub-zero”
T.E: Back in the old days of lead-acid battery packs in EVs, cold weather really did dramatically reduce range, sometimes knocking twenty or even thirty miles off the useable battery range. That much is true. With the advent of advanced lithium-ion battery technologies — the sort found in every production electric car on the market today — cold-weather range depreciation is far less. Even on the few cars like the Nissan LEAF which rely on passive rather than active thermal management, range reduction in cold weather is far less than half of the car’s overall range. And that kind of range reduction is only noticeable when temperatures plummet to thirty or forty degrees below. At or around freezing point, range reduction is likely to be no more than ten miles or so in cars without active thermal management.
On cars like the Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Volt, and BMW i3 — all of which have active, water-based thermal management to keep the battery pack at optimum operating temperature — range reduction due to cold weather is even less noticeable. Need proof? We’ve driven EVs like the Volvo C30 Electric more than 60 miles on a charge in arctic conditions, and Tesla recently went across the U.S. in massive snowstorms. In fact, as Tesla proved, EVs in sub-zero temperatures are often more reliable than gasoline cars!
Fix: “Resale value on EVs are so low because people don’t want them.”
T.E: This is a big topic, and one we’ve had to do battle with in the past. Used EV prices are partly so low because of dropping new EV prices. For example, cars like the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt are now far more affordable to buy new now then they were three years ago when they entered the market. The LEAF, for example, has dropped its sticker price by more than $5,000 in the past three years. So too have the Mitsubishi i-Miev, Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus Electric.
If the new price of a product drops that dramatically over three years, so too will the used prices.
There’s also another reason for low residual values: lease companies are risk averse and electric cars are new. With the typical lease arrangement being two or three years in length, the very first electric cars which were brand new in 2011 and 2012 are only just coming to the end of their lease period. Because lease companies didn’t know how well the battery packs would fare during those first few years of the electric car market, they placed low residual values on electric cars to protect their investment. That in part has helped drive used prices down.
Fix: If a former owner didn’t “maintain the inverter fluid” you’ll have an expensive repair bill (and maybe need a new battery pack.)
T.E: This is a completely new one to us. Yes, EVs do have fluid to keep inverter electronics cool, but unlike oil changes in gasoline cars, the coolant on a car like the Nissan LEAF is expected to last 125,000 miles — or fifteen years. So unless you’re buying a first-generation EV — i.e. a used, high-mileage 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV or S10 pickup truck from the same era, you won’t have to worry about that particular problem just yet.
Fix: “30-40 miles a day round trip might be okay” if you’re looking to buy an EV
T.E: It’s a known fact that more than 95 percent of all daily driving needs can be met by an EV. Only in extreme cases — when you’re commuting between two major cities an hour or more apart — would you perhaps need to reconsider an EV purchase choice or look to get a longer-range EV like the Tesla Model S. In all honesty though, the 30-40 mile daily range restriction Fix is suggesting is very low for our real-world experience. We know people who drive double that every day without recharging, and one driver we know even manages a 130 mile daily commute thanks to rapid quick-charge stations on his local interstate.
Our advice? Most EVs on the market today can easily manage a 50-70 mile round-trip to and from work with ease, without recharging. You’ll only find trouble with those distance commutes if you’re really heavy with your right foot, live in extremely hilly places, or like to break the speed limit with gay abandon.
Fix: “Some diesel and gasoline cars get better economy” than electric cars
T.E: Watching Fix say that cars like the Ford Fiesta and many other cars on the market get 43-50 miles per U.S. gallon is like watching a car crash in slow-motion, especially when she suggests that gasoline cars can get better gas mileage than electric ones. Of course, we’re already well aware that claim is utterly unfounded, but if you need any further convincing, take a look at official EPA gas-mileage figures and we think you’ll agree that the highest-perofrming economy, measured in miles per gallon equivalent, comes from EVs.
Further more, as NASA published last week and the Automotive Science Group detailed this week, electric cars are not only cheeper to run but better for the environment, even on today’s grid power mix.
Fix:”EVs have a lot smaller trunks than gasoline cars”
T.E: By her comment, we think that perhaps Fix has only driven cars like the Ford Focus Electric, Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid and BMW ActiveE, because while these cars do have smaller trunk space than their gasoline counterparts, most electric cars on the market today have more than enough space for luggage. In the case of the Tesla Model S and Nissan LEAF, they have more luggage space than a comparable gasoline vehicle.
The difference here is between converted cars — ones originally made as gasoline models but then converted to electric variants by automakers — versus factory-designed and factory-built EVs.
In the case of the Ford Focus Electric, C-Max Energi and limited-run BMW ActiveE, load area is smaller than they would be in their comparable gasoline counterparts (Ford Focus, C-Max, 1-Seires BMW) because the respective engineers for each company have had to shoehorn large battery packs into a chassis never designed to take them.
But with the Nissan LEAF, its low-slung, under-body battery pack leaves more luggage room in the trunk than you’d find with a comparable gasoline car because there’s no exhaust system or fuel tank behind the rear axle.
In the case of the Tesla Model S, the battery pack even forms part of the car’s chassis, along with the electric motor and power inverter. This leaves not only the rear trunk completely free for luggage — more than some SUVs in fact — but even opens up a front-luggage area — or frunk — for owner use. When it comes to how big that is, we’re happy to tell you that Nikki can fit inside. We know, because she’s tried it.
Fix’s whole five minute segment was aired under the headline that electric car sales fell in January, despite U.S. government incentives, but we’re also pretty sure that’s an unfair headline too.
For a start, automotive sales in January always fall, no matter what segment you look at. That’s because people have just filed (and paid) their annual taxes, the holiday season has just ended, and the weather isn’t exactly conducive in most of the U.S. for visiting dealer lots and test-driving cars.
For the electric car market too, there’s a natural lull at the start of the year due to the way in which Federal tax credits for EVs are applied. Buy an EV in January, and you’ll have to wait almost an entire year to claim your $7,500 Federal tax credit back from the U.S. government. It makes more sense then, to buy your brand new EV in November or December, when you’ll only have a few months to wait for your rebate.
We’re keen to see what you make of Lauren Fix’s very failed attempt to dismiss electric cars, and we’ve reached out to her on various social media sites to see if she’ll talk to us about her misconceptions. We’ll let you know what happens.
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