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Truths and myths about electric vehicles
How well do you understand EVs?

2019-09-06

The EV market is undergoing rapid growth, but consumer perception on EV technology is divided. How well do you know EVs? We take a closer look at some common myths and facts about EVs.

New technologies change society, but it takes time for change, because there is bound to be fear and misconception surrounding the new. Since its first appearance, electric vehicles were a topic of endless clarification to counter misconceptions and misunderstandings. Here, we explore the various misunderstandings, questions, and truths about electric vehicles.

Are EVs safe when it rains?

EVs are designed structurally and by logic to prevent electric leakage or shock

We’ve all seen the dangers of live electric current meeting water, so it’s no surprise that there are concerns about EVs in the rain or water exposure. However, EVs are safe even charging outdoors in the rainiest days, due to the charging port design that prevents water inflow, and various shock prevention mechanisms and steps.

4-stage electric shock prevention design in EVs
– A drain hole within the charging port dispels moisture inflow due to precipitation conditions, preventing electric shock
– Once the charging gun and port are connected, a seal prevents any further inflow of liquid.
– Another shock prevention measure waits for complete connection between the vehicle and the charger before allowing a current to flow.
– Pressing the charging gun button to cease charging immediately stops electric flow, preventing any damage to connector contact points

Are EV batteries explosive?

EV battery packs have multiple safety mechanisms to prevent ignition conditions

EVs powered by lithium-based batteries combine various safety designs to prevent battery fire and explosion in cases of short circuit or high temperatures.

Vehicle Cooperative Control – the battery is a power supply that is linked to electric motors and various electrical components, which can affect the battery if high voltage components fail. Fail-safe features and integrated into the design to prevent such failures from impacting the battery.

Active Protection – Battery Management System prevents accidents by managing battery charge status, cell, balancing and various other fine-tuning. If an abnormality is detected in the battery, the battery is automatically controlled (on/off) through a relay (a device that operates under certain conditions to open/close circuits).

Manual Protection – A fuse is designed to shut off currents if a short circuit is detected in the car or the battery.

Rigid Battery Cell Architecture – EV batteries are designed to withstand external shock. They are built with ceramic-coated separators to improve strength, and pouch-type lithium batteries with excellent heat-dissipation properties are used to protect from external heat.

EV batteries undergo a wide array of safety testing and certification before being put into EVs, with not only safety designs, but also crash safety, water tightness, submersion, and combustion.

What about electromagnetic waves from EVs?

Electromagnetic(EM) waves generated by EVs are safer than the World Health Organization(WHO)’s recommended standards as well as the Korean government’s health safety standards.

The controversy surrounding EM waves’ possible harmful effect to the human body has not yet been settled. The WHO set the recommended international guideline for EM exposure at 83.3μT (micro tesla). Domestic standards also follow the international standard.

In some ways, EVs are like electrical appliances on wheels, so EM exposure may worry some, but measurements show that EM waves in EVs are miniscule. EM wave measurements at the driver’s seat and passenger’s seats in the cabin at stop, operation, and charging states are all very low, even by internationally recommended standards (1-3μT). To put that in perspective, it is similar to an average lampstand at home(0.5-2.0μT ),  TV(0.35-2.00μT ), and e-cigs (1~3μT) as recently investigated.

EVs are not really green?

EVs are more environmentally friendly than combustion engine vehicles, even when accounting for the source of electric power

Many continue to question how green EVs really are. The argument is that EVs do not emit greenhouse gases while being driven, but the electricity provided for charging is generated in a way that produces greenhouse gases. How true is that?

If the electricity is generated using thermal power, and that is used to charge an EV, then there is a connection.  However, as the table shows above, an EV charged by a gasoline generator emits 110g of CO2 per 1km driven. Combustion engine cars such as gasoline and diesel are 146g of CO2 and 128g of CO2, respectively. This means that even accounting for the power generation process, the EV emits less CO2 overall.

If the power comes from various renewable sources, or even natural gas or nuclear power, the average amount of CO2 produced per EV is driven even lower. Developed economies around the world are taking policy directions for a carbon-free society, and eco-friendly power generation is gaining traction.  As such, EVs are becoming even more environmentally friendly.

Are EV battery replacements a financial burden?

High voltage batteries are a key component of EVs and maintain operability for 20 year or more on standard usage.

EV battery life expectancy is an expression of how many charge cycles it can take. Typically, an EV’s battery has at least 1000 cycles of full depletion followed by a full charge, about 5,000 cycles of 50% depletion and full charge,  and about 8,000 cycles of 20% depletion and full charge.

For example, the recently released SOUL Booster EV has a 386km range on full charge. A 20% charge gives it a 77.2km range. If the SOUL Booster EV is charged 20% daily for 77.2km trips, the battery will last 8,000 cycles, or 8,000 days, which is about 22 years. The likelihood of battery life becoming the weak link is very slim.

The warranty covering the batteries in domestically available EVs should lay that worry to rest. Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric and the KONA Electric, Kia’s Niro EV are all covered with lifetime warranties on batteries, regardless of mileage or year of purchase. The Kia SOUL Booster EV, Chevrolet Volt EV, BMW i3, and Nissan Leaf are all covered with ample battery warranty.

EVs with different mileage by country. Why?

EV range is evaluated with different standards depending on the country of evaluation, and this often leads to varying results for the same model. Korean and North American evaluation is based on 70% of the last measured mileage, which is a noticeable difference to the European standard.

As such, EVs with identical specifications may appear to have different mileage indications depending on the intended country. Mileage and range are calculated differently by country. In Korea and the North Americas, EV range is evaluated using the Multi Cycle Test (MCT) method. The MCT method alternates through city driving, high-speed driving, and constant speed driving and considers 70% of the distance as a single-charge range. However, even Korean and North American standards are different in that constant speed values are different (Korea is 88.5kph, North America is 104.6kph, or 65mph).

European test standards follow WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light-duty vehicle Test Procedure), implemented since September 2017. WLTP is a supplementary update to the New European Driving Cycle, taking into consideration realistic road conditions, including rapid acceleration, deceleration, and very high-speed driving. In Europe, WLTP mileage is certified and marked as-is.