Myths about battery electric cars – busted!

Myths about battery electric cars – busted!

Myths and misconceptions about battery electric mobility are still widespread in 2022. From range anxiety to the collapsing power grid – our Bosch expert Dirk Brinkmann puts these myths to the test.

How far will I get with my battery?

Many people associate electric cars with low ranges, but is that really true and what ranges are actually needed?

Eight out of ten drivers in Europe cover less than 100 km per day, according to a published study that examined the driving behaviour of more than 600,000 users in Europe.[1]The majority of new electric vehicles now achieve realistic ranges of between 250 km and 500 km[2]

Additionally, the ranges will continue to increase. This is due to improved battery technology and more efficient drives, such as the use of silicon carbide in inverters.

Where can I charge my vehicle?

Over 80% of all charging procedures take place at home. [3]

However, not every future electric car user has the opportunity to charge at their own wallbox or a socket at home. That is why the expansion of charging points at the workplace, in apartment buildings or while shopping is important.

Change is coming. Over 370,000 public charging stations have already been installed in Europe. [4] Experts believe that even with an accelerated growth in new BEV registrations in 2025 and 2030, there will still be enough public charging stations in Europe. [5]

Furthermore, there is the need for fast charging on motorways. While Italy has so far averaged 2 fast-charging points per 100 km, the United Kingdom is a positive example with an average of 8 fast-charging points per 100 km. But something is happening here too. Since 2019, the number of public fast-charging stations in Europe has almost doubled. [4]

What happens to batteries when repeatedly charged and discharged?

Many know this from their smartphone: After two to three years, the battery capacity has dropped significantly.

However, this cannot be transferred one-to-one to the battery of electric cars. Many car manufacturers provide proof of this themselves by giving end customers a guarantee of up to 70% of the battery's remaining capacity after eight years or 160,000 km driven. And even after that, the battery will continue to function for years. [6]

What about the carbon footprint of battery electric vehicles?

Bosch's own studies show that a battery electric vehicle emits 20-30% less CO2 over its entire life cycle than a comparable vehicle with a combustion engine. This is based on the German electricity mix, including production and recycling.

In 2030, Bosch assumes that the CO2 balance will continue to shift in favor of the electric car. By then, new electric cars will cause about 40% less CO2. However, the following applies above all: the greener the electricity mix becomes, the greener electric cars will become. [15]

If everyone drives an electric vehicle, will the power grid collapse?

As of February 2022, there are over one million electric vehicles on Germany's roads. [7] [8]

The power grid will not collapse even with accelerated growth in BEVs. Germany, for example, exported 18 terawatt-hours of energy in 2020 alone. Theoretically, this could have been used to charge six million electric cars. [9]

However, it is correct that the electricity grid must be modernised and made intelligent, especially when it comes to controlling possible peak loads in the best possible way.

The Frauenhofer Institute puts it in a nutshell: "If all of the 45 million or so cars in Germany were battery electric, the demand for electricity would increase by about 20%. [10]

But, this increase does not happen over night.

Even if all users conveniently plug their electric vehicles into the wallbox in the evening, the grid will not collapse - thanks to intelligent charging management.[11]

Aren't battery electric vehicles too expensive?

In an overall cost comparison, electric cars are already cheaper than combustion engines thanks to lower maintenance costs, tax advantages and lower energy costs. The higher purchase price of electric cars is compensated by extensive subsidies in many countries. For example, there are purchase premiums of up to €9,000 for the purchase of an electric car. [12]

Such incentives will no longer be necessary in a few years, as economies of scale from mass production, falling battery prices and technological progress will make battery-electric cars cheaper than comparable vehicles with combustion engines. Starting with smaller vehicle classes, Bosch forecasts expect this to happen by 2025.

How sustainable are battery electric vehicles in terms of resources?

95% of the functional materials used in a battery, such as cobalt, nickel and copper, can be recycled. [9] Lithium can now also be recovered, but due to the low raw material prices, this is currently not economically. [13]

Furthermore, after its first life cycle in the vehicle, a battery is still not a case for hazardous waste. With the remaining 70-80% of residual capacity, the batteries can be used for a second life in industrial applications, for example as stationary battery storage, or integrated in fast charging stations. [14]

Thanks to technological progress, fewer and fewer raw materials will be needed for the same battery capacity. Newer battery generations will need less cobalt or even be able to do without it completely.