Are electric vehicles suitable for city driving?
Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming popular as a way to save money in the long term, as they help drivers avoid rising fuel costs during a cost of living crisis. This is especially true for anyone with a home renewable energy system.
But their benefits will change depending on where you primarily drive your EV. How do they affect people living in a high-traffic urban environment, for example?
More efficient on short trips
Most people who live in cities will have shorter commutes than those who live more in the countryside, simply because in rural areas homes and amenities tend to be more scattered. These rapid movements can be very inefficient in a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE), as they lose about 60% of their efficiency in terms of heat and friction.
By comparison, quickly installing your electric vehicle doesn’t have the same problem, making it arguably a winner when it comes to urban efficiency.
Electric vehicles are a quiet option
All those engines rumbling through traffic can create a noisy environment in which to live and work. The near-silent approach of an electric vehicle motor can help solve the problem of noise pollution, which can lead to hearing loss, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances and stress.
However, cities are also full of people rushing and running off the sidewalks into the road, and the quiet electric vehicle can be easy to miss if you don’t look before crossing. That doesn’t mean EVs are a bad option, but it does mean drivers and pedestrians will need to be more vigilant.
Help purify the air
The main advantage of an electric vehicle is that it emits zero tailpipe emissions. This means that no harmful greenhouse gases are emitted while driving. Not only is this better when it comes to fighting climate change, but it also creates a healthier environment in which to live.
[Read more: Are e-scooters the future of city travel?]
Content from our partners
Cities are notorious for traffic jams, so reducing the number of toxic emissions generated while you wait in line is a significant benefit.
The electric vehicle charging problem
One of the biggest concerns for those looking to go electric is range anxiety – the worry that you’ll run out of charge and can’t find a charging station. Electric vehicles generally have a shorter range than petrol or diesel vehicles, and there are fewer charging stations than gas stations available.
But it’s less of a problem for city dwellers who drive most of their trips on short trips within the city limits. In fact, electric vehicles are often considered to be more suitable for people who live in cities than those who live in rural areas for this reason.
However, this attitude is based on the fact that electric vehicle owners can access a charging station at home or easily find one on the street when they need it. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, with many people living in apartments or homes with no driveways.
Lack of domestic renewable energy
While there is no doubt that electric vehicles are the greenest choice when it comes to tailpipe emissions, many people are concerned about the green credentials of powering their cars with electricity generated by fossil fuels.
While those living outside the city limits might have solar panels or home wind turbines to generate their own renewable energy, which combats this problem, those in cities are less likely to have the space to do so. However, there is common ground – committing to buying your electricity from a renewable energy supplier or switching to a green tariff can help increase the number of green units in the grid mix.
Are EV charging stations accessible?
Another issue for those without home charging stations is that public stations may not be accessible to people with disabilities. Especially for points on the road, it can be difficult to navigate mobility aids around tightly parked cars, or even to be able to get the charging point to the correct height to use. Surprisingly, this guide to electric vehicles and accessibility says there is only one fully accessible charging station in the UK, which shows how far we have to go.
All in all, electric vehicles have a lot to offer city dwellers, and it’s no surprise that they are becoming increasingly popular in urban areas. However, there are still several issues to overcome, including charging stations and accessibility, before electric vehicles can become the universal city car of choice.
[Read more: The data behind the electric car market’s explosive growth]