Why a long autonomy is not a good idea in an electric car

Why a long autonomy is not a good idea in an electric car

According to Ademe, a battery that is too large reduces the interest of the electric vehicle economical and ecological.

A few days before the opening of the Paris Motor Show, Ademe, the ecological transition agency, gave its “opinion on the electric vehicle”. For her, the electrification of the automobile fleet is an “essential lever” to decarbonise transport.

But Ademe reminds that the electric car is obviously not carbon neutral and you have to pay attention to its formula to have a more interesting pollution balance than a thermal model. Criterion number 1 is battery size, which should be reasonable. Ademe therefore recommends not exceeding 60 kWh.

With fast charging, costs skyrocket

Next, “an electric car circulating in France has a carbon impact two to three times lower than that of a similar thermal model.” Beyond that, the environmental interest will not be guaranteed. In question: the natural resources required and the weight of the vehicle. The larger the battery, the heavier the car, which will increase consumption. Ademe estimates that, compared to a diesel model, “the carbon debt is amortized after about 15,000 km” for an electric city car, while it will be after 100,000 km for a high-end electric SUV.

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A battery of up to 60 kWh also has an economic advantage. Always according to Ademe’s analysis, a model with a battery of around 60 kWh will have, throughout its useful life, a total cost lower than that of a comparable thermal battery. Please note, however: this is valid in case of charging at home.

In this case, the agency estimates the cost price of electricity at €10 to travel 300 km. With a thermal, it would be more like €30. The problem comes from fast charging: the bill would go up to €40! Ademe is also not at all in favor of fast charging, which raises concerns in terms of infrastructure and electricity demand.

The agency points out that “recharging a 60 kWh battery in two minutes like refueling a thermal vehicle would mean a power demand of 1.8 MW of electricity, that is, the equivalent of the average electrical power demanded simultaneously by 1,500 homes”.

For long distances, take the train!

In summary, Ademe therefore advocates urban or compact electric cars, which remain light thanks to a reasonable battery, lighter still going to the essentials in terms of equipment, and that are recharged at home, at the right time of day… that is to say the night!

Therefore, electricity must meet the expectations of those who need an electric car on a daily basis. With 60 kWh, a family model today has a range of around 450 km, more than enough to go to work during the week and make weekend getaways. And improving efficiency, we can have more autonomy from 60 kWh, or stay at 450 km by reducing the size of the battery.

The deployment of long-range vehicles, of 600 km or more, associated with ultra-fast charging stations “raises many questions: carbon impact, energy prices and vehicles that are not accessible to most households, reinforcement of the electricity grid… ” and that it would only correspond to occasional needs.

The Ademe, therefore, invites us to rethink the use of the car. According to its formula, electric cannot replace thermal for all uses, it must become “a brick among a broader and more diversified range of mobility services”. For long trips, it refers to public transport, in particular the train.

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