Did you know that the volume of consumer disputes related to electric vehicles (EVs) being handled by The Motor Ombudsman has almost tripled, according to AM Online? In the first three months of 2023, electric car owners made a record number of complaints about their vehicles, with the Ombudsman receiving 273 complaints about electric vehicles.
As of February 2023, there are over 690,000 battery-electric cars in the UK, according to the NFDA. While electric cars have many benefits, without a doubt they also face some challenges and complaints too by the looks of things.
Here are some of the common complaints associated with electric vehicles:
Battery life span concerns
The life span of electric car batteries has caused some concerns. In general, you can expect the lifespan of an electric vehicle battery pack to last between 10 years or 100,000 miles. Thanks to significant improvements in rechargeable energy storage system technology and production, means that electric vehicles' battery capacity can last this long on average.
Typically, EV batteries lose 5-10% of their useful life within the first five years. As with anything, electric vehicle battery packs can degrade naturally over time, meaning they become less efficient at holding their electrical charge.
There are also many other factors that can shorten your electric vehicle's battery life, things that you wouldn't necessarily need to consider with petrol or diesel car batteries. For example, there are many environmental and driver-related factors that can accelerate your EV battery's degradation significantly.
Heat is an example as this is incompatible with electric car batteries. Heat results in faster degradation in hotter climates says OSVehicle. The frequency of charging your EV battery is also a factor that can affect your battery, such as frequent deep discharges.
Charging points are broken
Fortunately for petrol and diesel cars, they don't have any issues when it comes to charging ad charging points being broken. However, 6% of complaints in the first quarter of 2023 were mainly concerning failures of the main charging unit within the first months of ownership, and the inability of the vehicle to charge to its potential due to software issues says AM Online.
It's been reported that thousands of charging points are broken or malfunctioning, with drivers describing the situation as “dire”. You'd think that by now with EVs popularity growing so fast that we'd be able to charge our EV batteries and it would be as simple as that, but apparently not. With limited EV and public charging points and infrastructure, will car buyers continue to shift to EVs and encourage the public and private sectors to build more charging stations? Are EVs really reliable cars or are they just your average car?
Figures suggest more than one in ten of the rapid public chargers that millions rely on at supermarkets, service and petrol stations, and car parks are out of service on any given day, according to inews. As of January 2023, the U.S. has over 160,000 public EV chargers, around 85% of which are Level 2 charging ports while the rest are Level 3. Although this number may seem like a lot, America still lacks in EV charging infrastructure. A study by S&P Global reveals that America needs to have 700,000 chargers by 2025, and around 1.2 million chargers by 2027, to support the EV industry growth.
Some EVs still offer a limited range
Some EVs don't provide the better range that you may have been hoping for. The exact range of your EV battery can depend on various different things such as your battery size and the trim you choose. Battery technology in an electric vehicle is a wonderful thing but sadly, range anxiety is among the biggest sources of hesitation for car buyers when it comes to EVs.
Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director of The Motor Ombudsman said: “Reflecting the trend seen during the past two years, the level of customer service provided by a business and a consumer’s experience at the point of buying an electric vehicle was the most notable element of discontent during the first quarter of 2023.
"Furthermore, expectations that a consumer’s car should achieve the quoted range for a full charge was also one of the main talking points, with greater variations in the actual figures being achieved becoming more noticeable in the cooler temperatures that we experienced since the turn of the year.”
If we look at some examples, the Mercedes-Benz EQS range is 407-453 miles, the Ford Mustang Mach-E range is 273-379 miles, and the Tesla Model Y range is 283-351 miles, according to Select Car Leasing. Thanks to continuous improvements in EV battery technology, we've already seen an increase in the average EV driving range to over 210 miles for a single full charge.
The average American driver travels approximately 35 miles per day, so a 210-mile range can last for a full work week without charging, provided there are no side trips or emergency trips out that is.
Electric cars struggling to perform in cold weather
Did you know that temperatures really do play a big part in how well your EV performs? Cold weather can affect your electric car just as much as hot weather can too. According to Hot Cars, electric vehicles' driving range can be affected as well as charging times due to cold weather.
According to a 2022 study by Green Car Reports, EV drivers noticed a 30% reduction in driving range during winter. With less driving range at their disposal, EV drivers need to plug in more frequently. Is there anything that motor manufacturers could do to help electric motors and their batteries so that their not so affected by cold temperatures?
Environmental impact of producing lithium batteries
While EVs promise to deliver lower emissions, the environmental impact of producing lithium batteries is causing battery debates. Storing energy in lithium-ion batteries allows us to ease our reliance on fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy resources and lithium-ion batteries. Well, this is what we think until we analyse the battery supply chain.
According to Earth.Org, the environmental impact of battery production comes from the toxic fumes released during the mining process and the water-intensive nature of the activity. Producing one tonne of lithium (enough for ~100 car batteries) requires approximately 2 million tonnes of water, which makes battery production an extremely water-intensive practice.
Mining these materials, however, has a high environmental cost, a factor that inevitably makes the EV manufacturing process more energy intensive than that of the internal combustion engine for vehicles. Two types of mining commonly required to extract minerals for batteries are open-pit mining and brine extraction, says UL.Org. These extraction processes can cause erosion and pollution.
When the time comes to dispose of lithium electric car batteries, they become electronic waste, also known as e-waste. E-waste has been declared one of our world’s most pressing issues for environmental and human health by the United Nations. Much electronic waste is not disposed of properly with some devices winding up in commercial waste or landfills.
If you ever have a complaint about your electric car and the business is accredited to the Motor Ombudsman, you can raise a complaint and they should get back to you within eight weeks to formally respond in writing before you open a case with them.