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Environment, Transport

Electric vehicles may be fast and low-maintenance, but are they a real climate solution?

Electric vehicles may be fast and low-maintenance, but are they a real climate solution?

19/6/2021 1:36:00 AM

Electric vehicles may be fast and low-maintenance, but are they a real climate solution?

Talking Point’s Steven Chia spoke to industry players, hitched a ride in a Tesla Model S and pitted an electric car against a petrol car. Here is ...

WATCH: Electric car vs petrol car: Costs, performance, emissions and range (3:57)Going by this goal, EV chargers will be deployed in most, if not all, car parks over the next decade, said EV Association of Singapore’s vice-president Paul Welsford.Love CNA Insider videos and stories?

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SubscribeThere will be charging points that offer quick top-ups — what he calls opportunity charging — as well as slower top-ups at places like homes or workplaces where cars remain for hours at a stretch. He calls the latter destination charging.Fast chargers can now be found at selected Shell stations and take 40 to 50 minutes to juice up a car like Hyundai’s Kona Electric from zero to 80 per cent. headtopics.com

According to Welsford, these rapid chargers are often powered to around 50 kilowatts. Chargers rated up to 350 kW exist in some countries, so there is the potential for higher charging speeds in future — from zero to 80 per cent in 20 to 25 minutes and possibly quicker, he cited.

There’ll be charging points that offer quick top-ups and others that'll be slower, said Paul Welsford.Rapid direct-current charging is, however, more expensive than slower alternate-current charging. It can cost 10 times more in some cases, he said.

But compared to their predecessors, today’s EVs can run farther before needing a recharge. Chia, who drove about 100 km in the Kona Electric using less than half the battery, found that there was “no real need for range anxiety”.In China’s Shenzhen, where all public buses and taxis are electric, a fully charged bus can cover up to 300 km — more than enough for a day’s work, said Shenzhen Bus Group’s head of international development, Hallie Liao.

Can the batteries be charged excessively, however, and do they carry a higher risk of catching fire than fossil fuel vehicles?No, they cannot take more energy than they can store. Welsford said EV batteries have sophisticated battery management systems that communicate with EV chargers to make sure that only the required energy is provided to the car. headtopics.com

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Today's electric vehicles have a more extended range than their predecessors.“That said, there are best practices when it comes to charging, especially with rapid direct-current charging, where it’s usually best to not charge above 80 per cent as this will help the battery maintain its range better,” he said.

Advances in battery technology are helping to reduce the effects of rapid direct-current charging, he added.There is currently no evidence indicating that EVs are a higher fire risk, he noted. But it is difficult to make a comparison with fossil fuel cars, mainly owing to a lack of data; EVs represent a small percentage of vehicles globally.

While incidents of EV fires generate more attention, said Welsford, “safety is a core part of EV and battery manufacturers who are always looking to improve their technology — and the battery management systems are there to maintain temperatures and reduce the risks”.

Under the hood of an electric vehicle.The lithium battery is, however, the most expensive component of an electric car, and EV production volumes are a fraction of petrol vehicles’, said Ong Lay Ling, group managing director of car distributor Eurokars Group. “As a result, they’ve yet to achieve economies of scale.” headtopics.com

So EVs cost more than petrol cars. But with the various incentives and rebates in Singapore, prices can be similar. Read more: CNA »

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