Almost one in five petrol and diesel car owners say they are put off going electric because they’re worried about driving in adverse weather conditions such as a lightning storm.
While the sales of electric cars have soared in 2019, a new study has found some drivers still have bizarre concerns about their safety and suitability.
The survey of drivers by car maker Hyundai found that a staggering 18 per cent didn’t think it would be safe to drive an EV through a lightning storm despite there being no extra risk compared with a regularly fuelled car.
In London, where there are already more than 20,000 EVs registered, almost one third (29 per cent) were worried about lightning or driving in heavy rain, more than anywhere else in the country.
However, like fears over using a car wash, concerns over driving in heavy rain, through puddles or during a storm are completely unfounded. EVs’ battery packs and electrical systems are sealed and isolated, meaning that they are protected from the elements. And EVs have to undergo the same rigorous safety and crash testing as any conventionally fuelled vehicle.
The survey also found more than a fifth of drivers (22 per cent) said they would not feel safe charging an electric car and, for some reason, 12 per cent thought charging their phone in an EV wasn’t a good idea.
It also found that long-standing concerns around range, charging times and choice were holding drivers back from choosing an EV, with 28 per cent of those questioned admitting that they didn’t know enough about EVs.
EV registrations have risen around 125 per cent in 2019 but they still account for just 1.4 per cent of the total new car market in the UK.
Sylvie Childs, senior product manager at Hyundai Motor UK, said: “It’s been fascinating to hear about some of the misconceptions that people still have about electric vehicles.
“We’ve all been told you don’t mix electricity with water, but when it comes to EVs there’s absolutely no extra risk of driving in a lightning storm – they are just as safe as a petrol or diesel car.
“Range anxiety is also an interesting one. When electric cars first came out the range was an issue we had to tackle, but these days you can get almost 300 miles on a single charge and this will increase further in time.”
In an effort to address the concerns raised in the survey, Hyundai has issued its own myth-busting advice, to which we’ve added our own thoughts.
Range anxiety bringing you down?
Hyundai says: A typical EV covers between 100 and 200 miles on a single charge and even longer on some models with official ranges of more than 300 miles. Hyundai’s Kona Electric can actually go as far as 279 miles with one charge.
We say: Most EVs have plenty of range for day-to-day driving but remember that official figures aren’t always easily achievable in real-world conditions and everything from the way you drive to the outside temperature can affect real range.
Worried you won’t find anywhere to charge?
Hyundai says: No need to be. There are currently more than 14,500 public charging points in more than 9,000 locations in the UK and the network is growing rapidly.
We say: Most modern chargers are reliable and quick but there are older public units out there that offer relatively slow charging rates, and there are still some problems with dependability. There’s also the matter of having to have membership of multiple networks to access different chargers.
Think an electric vehicle is too expensive?
Hyundai says: Think again. With more and more affordable and competitive options and fewer moving parts to fail or need replacing, EVs are in fact cheaper to run than conventionally fuelled vehicles.
We say: There are definitely more affordable EVs coming to market. Budget brand MG just launched its first EV – the £22,000 ZS EV and there are relatively cheap models from the likes of Renault, Skoda, Seat and VW on the way. However, they remain more expensive than an equivalent petrol or diesel model and insurance can be more expensive, so don’t expect to make your money back on fuel and maintenance savings.
Read more: The cheapest electric cars on sale in 2019
Worried that electric vehicles are too sluggish?
Hyundai says: Not true. Instant torque delivery means EVs can accelerate just as quickly and if not much quicker than their petrol or diesel counterparts. For example, Hyundai’s Kona Electric can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 7.9 seconds.
We say: The instant torque does give quick acceleration from standstill, which is especially handy around town and means you’ve no fears of holding up the traffic. But racing away from the lights is an easy way to rapidly deplete your range so you’ll need to be careful with your right foot.
Think you can’t take an electric vehicle through the car wash or drive in a lightning storm?
Hyundai says: Of course, we’ve all been told that you don’t mix electricity with water, but when it comes to EVs its perfectly safe to use a car wash and there’s no extra risk of driving in a lightning storm.
We say: EVs have to undergo stringent safety tests before they go on sale and all high-voltage electrical elements are fully sealed against water penetration.
Not enough choice in the market?
Hyundai says: The electric car market is expanding rapidly. In fact, Hyundai currently has the largest e-mobility fleet in the world including the latest in electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
We say: The market is growing all the time. Several manufacturers launched new EVs in 2019 and there are at least two dozen due to launch in 2020, ranging from £20,000 Skodas to the £2m Pininfarina Battista. That’s not counting the plug-in and series hybrid models also on the way.
Worried that electric vehicles’ batteries are adding to the landfill crisis?
Hyundai says: EV batteries can be recycled just like the batteries in petrol or diesel cars. EV power cells can be used to store solar and wind energy, or they can be broken down with their more-valuable elements reused.
We say: The “second-life” use of EV batteries to store renewably-sourced energy in home or industrial settings is a great idea but requires major builders and businesses to embrace it if it is to be viable. And recycling isn’t as simple as it sounds. Recycling rates for lithium-ion batteries is around 5 per cent across the EU, and there are no lithium-ion recycling facilities in the UK.
Doubting the safety of electric vehicles?
Hyundai says: Rest assured that EVs undergo the same rigorous testing and meet the same safety standards required for petrol or diesel fuelled cars.
We say: A quick look at Euro NCAP’s crash testing data reveals that every new EV and hybrid tested in the last two years has achieved a five-star rating, so there’s no need to worry.
Worried about your breakdown cover?
Hyundai says: No reason to be. The majority of breakdown suppliers now provide services for all EVs as well as conventional vehicles.
We say: By and large, breakdown services can deal with EVs like any other car, and the big operators train their staff to deal with high-voltage systems safely. However, EVs can present some additional problems. Some manufacturers warn that towing them could damage the motors, meaning they need a flatbed truck or similar to recover them. However, the RAC is introducing a new four-wheel towing rig that can be carried by its standard vans and recover most vehicles. Breakdown services are also introducing roadside charging systems to give flat batteries a quick boost but these will still mean waiting for it to charge enough to get you to the next charging location, usually around 30 minutes.