Many people are clearly thinking about making their next car or one of their family car purchase electric. Electric cars are not the answer for everyone, but there are reassuring answers to many of the concerns.
The most frequent question is ‘Will an electric car suit me?’ and the answer is: if you don't regularly drive hundreds of kilometers, yes. European citizens drive an average of 50 kilometers a day, including regional representatives, taxi drivers and couriers. For commuting to work within the region or to be used as a second or third car for the family, an electric car is often the optimal solution if charging is available at home or at work.
Are electric cars too expensive?
At the moment they are more expensive to buy than petrol or diesel cars, although their premiums are definitely reduced. Since electric cars do not need to change gear, their prices are comparable to those of automatic cars. The price premium is also influenced by the equipment: electric cars often come with more factory-installed options as standard equipment. The main advantage of ownership is the cost saving of two liters of petrol per 100 km and significantly cheaper servicing.
But there is little selection…
A few years ago, those thinking about an electric car faced a real shortage of choice. Now, however, there are electric alternatives in most categories, from city minis to premium products and SUVs to vans. For example, the Volkswagen ID.3 and Škoda Enyaq have been launched, the VW ID.4 SUV is on the way, and Audi has launched the Q4 E-tron and Q4 Sportback E-tron.
Where do I charge the battery?
There are currently around 1,500 public charging points for electric cars in Hungary, and the network is expanding. Chargers can also be used in public areas of towns and cities and in supermarket car parks by downloading phone apps. For longer journeys, you can also use the chargers at motorway service stations or take a short detour to the shopping centers around town.
The 338-strong Ionity network of filling stations currently being developed along Europe's motorway network is the fastest, though not the cheapest. With the standard CCS connector, the VW ID.3 can recharge its battery with 100-125 kilowatts of electricity, the Audi E-tron can recharge up to 150 kW peak, and the Audi RS E-tron GT up to 270 kW. So, forced breaks are reduced to half an hour and range is noticeably improved. In normal traffic, the ID.3 Volkswagens with different battery capacities have a real-world range of 230-390 km between two recharges, while driving economically can achieve 330-550 km according to the official WLTP test.
Will I have to replace the battery for millions?
The most important (and most expensive) component of an electric car is the high-voltage battery. The battery packs of advanced electric cars such as Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Volkswagen and later Ford models based on the Modular Electric Building Block (MEB) are liquid-cooled. By cooling and heating the cells, the temperature can be kept in a range of 30 to 35 degrees Celsius, which is favorable for their lifetime. The voltage of each cell is constantly monitored by the car to prevent major differences that cause degradation (ageing, capacity loss). The battery is not a huge unit, and by arranging the cells in modules, any repairs and replacements cost proportionately less. The drive battery in electric cars is covered by a reassuring warranty, in most cases for eight years or up to 160,000 kilometers as in the case of the Audi E-tron or the Volkswagen ID.3. The VW Group designs its electric cars to operate between -30 and +50 degrees Celsius, far from the extremes of the winters and summers in Hungary. Battery life can also be extended by keeping the charge in the 20-80% range instead of repeated full discharges and constant trickle charging, and by preferring slower, AC charging for everyday use, leaving DC charging for longer journeys.
Will there be enough power if many of us switch to electric cars?
At 20 kWh/100 km and 15,000 km per year, an electric car requires 3,000 kWh of electricity. At present, there are about 13,500 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with green plates in Hungary, with negligible electricity demand at system level. If their number were to increase to 200,000, their demand would account for about 1.3% of the 47 terawatt-hours of annual domestic electricity consumption. If, magically, there were two million electric cars running in the country, half of the 3,920,000 cars in the domestic car fleet, their charging would require 13% of domestic electricity use. The key to serving electric car drivers is to ensure that cars do not charge at the same time and use excess electricity at night, during the valley season, which can be achieved through adequate regulation and electricity tariffs.
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