Statistics show that there are over 16 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road, and this number is only going to increase.
EVs are the future, and their popularity is expected to continue increasing.
There are a few dangers and disadvantages of EVs.
You may especially be worried about the electronic components and heavy rain. We’ve made a separate article about electric cars in rain and thunderstorms.
1. It Takes Twice As Much Energy To Manufacture
Electric vehicles may as well reduce carbon emissions in the future, but not entirely green, as there is more energy used to manufacture an EV compared to a regular gas-powered vehicle.
As compared to a combustion engine vehicle, electric vehicles require twice as much energy to manufacture, approximately 50% more energy than ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles, due to battery production.
That means electric vehicles have a larger carbon footprint than gas-powered vehicles.
When electric vehicle batteries are made, the materials are extracted using a very large amount of electricity. That is why, for larger electric vehicles, more carbon is produced because more batteries are used.
For instance, manufacturing an 84-mile range electric vehicle will take 15 % more energy than a gasoline-powered vehicle with the same range.
But… electric cars are so much greener?
The world is gradually leaning towards a complete fleet turnover by decarbonizing transportation.
This is expected to have a significant change in reducing global warming.
Even with decarbonizing transportation, research shows that it will be years, maybe even decades, before switching to electric vehicles has a drastic impact on the environment.
To make a significant impact on global warming, automakers must make and sell around 100 million electric vehicles by 2030.
In building and gathering manufacturing materials for this vehicle, carbon emissions will be excessive enough to easily surpass all modern conventional vehicles.
2. Batteries Can Catch Fire Or Explode
The batteries of EVs can be a major safety hazard.
An environmentally-friendly bonus is just one small side of the electric vehicle. The vehicle’s battery is the primary reason why many sceptics are still not convinced of buying an EV.
The batteries around which electric vehicles are built are not safer than internal combustion engines. Gas-powered vehicles are considered unsafe due to the probability of the engine exploding in an accident. The ICE vehicle’s weight, speed, and momentum are also some factors considered to be a safety threat.
On the other hand, electric vehicles which are powered by lithium-ion batteries can be just as dangerous due to the history of lithium batteries catching fire and exploding.
This makes you wonder, are EVs safe in accidents?
In the U.S, more than 300,000 people die in car accidents each year. That’s why many automakers thrive on making vehicles less dangerous. For instance, the addition of seatbelts and airbags in vehicles minimizes the loss of life in case of an accident.
Lithium-ion batteries are already present in cell phones and laptops. There are multiple documented cases of a laptop or phone battery exploding, which makes you wonder if a small lithium-ion battery can explode, what will become of the huge batteries in electric vehicles?
The new Tesla Roadster alone has 7,000 lithium-ion batteries under its hood.
However, to prevent these batteries from going sideways, Tesla and many other automakers add some precautionary devices such as collision detectors that signal fuses and circuits to cut the battery connections when they become aware that the electric vehicle battery will sustain any kind of damage.
But a faulty sensor or detector can still endanger the passenger’s life in a crash.
There are still multiple improvements that must be made to EVs to make them safer than gasoline-powered vehicles.
More about this in our rundown of problems with electric cars.
3. Sourcing of Materials Used in EVs
As the sales of electric vehicles grow in the market, there are some question marks about the sourcing of materials used in EVs.
According to Amnesty International, human rights abuses and child labor are being used for the extraction of materials that are crucial for EV battery production; cobalt.
These reports about electric vehicles are undermining the whole environmental factors this mode of transportation brings into the picture. Amnesty’s Secretary General believes that nothing, including a greener environment, should be tackled at the expense of human rights.
Researchers claim that artisanal miners are as young as seven years old and are ordered to use tools to dig in the mines.
The serious health risks associated with working in the mines is something that makes potential buyers question the purchase of an electric vehicle.
Another issue is that miners are severely underpaid, as much as $1 per day for all the younger group of workers.
Prolonged exposure to cobalt dust is also risky.
According to amnesty, the probability of human rights abuses in these supply chains is very high. As more than half of the world’s cobalt comes from the Southern DRC, about 20% comes from these artisanal mines.
The battery manufacture of an electric vehicle requires as much as 60% of the 125,000 tons of cobalt that is mined annually worldwide.
Research states that about 11 million tonnes of spent lithium-ion batteries will be discarded by the end of 2030.
There are reportedly only a few systems in use that could enable the reuse and recycling of these batteries. Without enough systems, the growing use of electric vehicles can become a threat rather than a safer approach.
4. Charging Station Dangers
In a situation when there’s a short circuit in the electric vehicle, there is a danger to the driver and passengers in the vehicle.
That is because the voltage in the vehicle’s batteries is direct current, not alternating current (AC).
A Toyota Prius has a battery current of 200 volts, and a Ford Escape has a current of 300 volts.
If there’s a malfunction in the system or an incident where the driver makes contact with the battery cables of the battery, it will end badly (to say the least).
DC voltage is more dangerous than AC voltage because the lowest voltage is around 55 volts, which can be fatal in numerous conditions.
But the batteries inside the EV aren’t the only feature that can cause electric spikes.
Charging stations also pose a potential risk to drivers because these stations offer a variety of voltages starting from 110 to about 550 volts. Although these stations are equipped with safety measures such as the fault circuit interrupter present below the ground, a malfunction can result in serious consequences.
These fault circuit interrupters are meant to cut off the flow of electricity when there’s a sudden surge, but according to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, it’s found that these GFCIs are often not operational under the charging stations in various parts of the country.
That is why charging stations can also cause accidents.
A lot of times, accidents, copper theft, or vandalism are the primary factors that make these charging stations unsafe due to the damage.
Earlier it was expected by investors that there would be 1.5 million charging stations across the entire nation. But, according to the department of energy, there are only 20,000 charging stations with 68,000 connectors attached as of now.
Which is still a big threat if most of the stations do not have operational GFCIs.
A report by the Society of Automotive Engineers urged manufacturers to install a battery kill switch for the purpose of disarming the battery in case of an accident so it doesn’t pose a threat to first responders.
The report also recommended that the switch must be in easily accessible places, and guidelines must be posted on vehicles for the emergency workers to follow.
Emergency workers in the U.S still fear approaching an electric or hybrid vehicle in accidents due to low safety measures.
As the number of electric vehicles on the road gradually grows, the safety measures will be improved in order to limit the risk of injury.
Although EVs are generally greener vehicles, in certain situations, they pose a definite threat to the driver and passengers.
There’s also a risk of electric spikes when the vehicle has been in an accident, which becomes an immediate threat to the first responders who have to interact with the damaged electric vehicles.
5. No Sound of Electric Vehicles
The International Energy Agency predicts that if all governments across the world contribute to banning ICE vehicles and promoting the use of electric transport, the number of electric vehicles on the road will easily double and surpass the target of 100 EVs on the road by 2030.
Electric vehicles have a high acceleration, which is impressive when compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, but there’s a big disadvantage to that, electric vehicles have no engine sound.
Researchers say that electric vehicles might increase the number of on-road accidents due to not making much sound.
This can be a problem for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles when an electric vehicle pulls out of the corner of the street because electric vehicles create no sound.
It is predicted that the high number of electric vehicles on the road will result in an increasing number of pedestrian and cyclist accidents.
Removing petrol and diesel vehicles from the road is meant to improve life in cities, but a few drawbacks of electric vehicles may cause new problems as well.
6. Electric Vehicles Cause E-Waste And Pollution
Electric vehicles cause very minimal pollution as of now, but when the roads are packed with electric vehicles, they might contribute far more greatly to global warming than gasoline-powered vehicles or other conventional vehicles.
EVs only have zero tailpipe emissions, but overall, when you look at the manufacturing of a single vehicle and the extraction of materials required for it, the overall carbon footprint of electric vehicles is far greater.
E-waste is becoming a problem due to the rising sales of EVs in the world and the limited resources for recycling batteries in the industry.
The industry hasn’t yet prepared for the volume of discarded batteries that will be accumulated by 2030.
According to an EPA report, 65 landfill fires were caused by lithium-ion batteries’ waste.
The batteries within the electric vehicles require electricity for recharging, and although most of the electricity is generated from renewable energy resources like solar power, a large portion of it is still covered by non-renewable energy resources.