Things To Think About If You Are Considering An EV Pickup Or Car
When you look at an electric vehicle (EV) like the Ford F-150 Lightning Pickup or the Mustang Mach-E, they do offer some good points. For starters, they need lots less maintenance than similar internal combustion engine (ICE) versions of the same vehicle – if similar versions are available. The electric motors that drive the wheels are usually sealed units that will last hundreds of thousands of miles without complaint. Likewise, the battery packs will probably last upwards of 200.000 miles, depending on recharge cycles, of course without complaint, either. Things like brakes, though, could be another story that we will touch on shortly.
Many EV Chores Are Simpler
EVs have a maintenance advantage compared to their ICE versions. Indeed, they are far easier on the charge card than their ICE versions for most mundane things. EVs don’t need regular oil changes. EVs don’t need to replace timing chains, sparkplugs, or air and oil filters, though they must have transmission fluid swapped out on similar schedules to ICE-engined vehicles.
Indeed, each vehicle has its advantages. An EV doesn’t need to fill up regularly with gas, though they need regular charging. On average, each type of vehicle will need to be “filled up” at similar times. Overall, though, EVs still come up ahead on the maintenance issue. Meantime, EVs do work in the winter despite stories to the contrary.
On the clean air front, the EV does come up ahead because an EV doesn’t emit the nasties that come out the tailpipe of an ICE-driven vehicle. There are no carbon monoxide (CO), no nitrous dioxide (NO2), and there are no carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from an EV. However, some could claim that given the type of plant that is powering an electrical grid, nasty emissions are still getting lost in the environment. However, many parts of the electrical grid are driven by natural gas sources, hydro (river or dam) sources, or even steam sources via groundwater injection. None of them offers the problems that ICE emissions offer to the environment.
EVs seem to have all the advantages, but do they? Perhaps yes, and maybe no. We have explored many of the advantages that EVs have to offer. However, some issues also have to be mentioned. Let’s begin with the weight difference.
EVs are inherently heavier than their ICE counterparts. For instance, the popular and much talked about Ford F-150 Lightning weighs about 6,600 pounds, while the regular F-150 pickup weighs in at 4,000 to 5,000 pounds. The difference is the battery pack which can weigh from 1,000 to 3,000 pounds. Indeed, a gas tank – using a standard 20-gallon tank as an ICE reference (and four pounds of weight per gallon) – will weigh in at just under 100 pounds, or about 900 to 2,700 pounds lighter than the EV version. Tesla sedans also weigh more than similar vehicles. Indeed, in China, Teslas have had a blockbuster quarter despite some controversy.
Meanwhile, the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickups has solved problems that other pickups haven't.
Weight Difference Is Meaningful
That weight difference is quite meaningful because EVs require a different style of the tire than an ICE version. Generally, EV tires will be larger and built heavier than their ICE counterparts. Since ICE tires aren’t meant to shield the occupants of a vehicle from road noise – it is covered by the engine in the first place. Instead, since they are so quiet, EVs must use tires to keep the rolling noise way down – they do this quite nicely. However, this means they need things like internal foam sound insulation to help keep the noise of the tires down. It also raises their cost. A Michelin MXM4 EV tire will cost $308, while a Pirelli will cost a bit less at $289. An ICE-version tire will cost about $150 and $300, depending on the tread's aggressiveness. Most people will settle for tires in the $150 range. Four mid-range ICE tires ($150 per tire) will cost about $600, depending on the dealer. On the other hand, four EV tires can run as much as double the cost of the ICE tire. They are needed because of issues that ICE tires don’t have, such as regenerative braking, where a tire is stressed to handle braking forces without applying brakes. Regenerative braking is a neat feature, but it has its drawbacks.
So, we know two issues that cause EVs to stand out over ICE-engined vehicles, tires, and weight. However, when you look at the ultimate weights, there might be a problem for EVs versus ICE vehicles.
Let’s grant that because of the position of the battery pack at the bottom of the EV, it is inherently stable, which is a good feature. It’s also a good point that an EV has practically instant access to hundreds of pounds-feet of torque. However, that stability is a bit misleading. Stability is important for handling in a straight line, but when you try to move the heavier EV off the straight line, it tends to fight you with lots of understeer. A manufacturer like Tesla will, by this point in the history of its Model 3, for instance, have dialed out most of the understeer, though it is still there, it’s just engineered to seem like it isn’t. The same is true of the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Moving either vehicle off a straight line requires lots of hidden effort. The tire-suspension engineering effort done by the development teams is quite something.
Another issue has to do with the combination of weight and kinetic energy. When an EV is running in a straight line, everything is fine, but when you begin working against the stability of the EV and its weight, you run into the kinetic energy built into the platform. If you hit the brakes too quickly to try to halt the vehicle, you will find that the vehicle will tend to run straight ahead (classic understeer). If you have enough room or the engineering has been done correctly (usually a given in today’s EVs, but you never really know), the vehicle will slow and stop safely with a bit of flair. If you try to do it too quickly, you will find the understeer takes over and leads the vehicle in a straight line. That line could be through or into another vehicle, off the road, or into a pole (remember, we are talking about quick stoppage here).
Some Important Weight Factors
Another problem with EVs and weight is illustrated by the GM Hummer, which tops the scale at 9,000 pounds. One must assume that the engineers who designed the stopping system considered the sheer weight of the vehicle. But, given that EVs, once you’ve hit the brakes like to go straight, you may suddenly find yourself with a virtually unstoppable vehicle that will run over anything in front of it. It is a consideration. Granted, given today’s engineering a small consideration but still something that must be considered.
EVs are great vehicles with limitations that will likely be further dialed out as systems improve.
All vehicles have their limitations and other problems that result in recalls, as did more than 1.7 million midsized models such as the Fusion and the F-150 standard pickup.
Ford Motor Photo
Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent many misspent hours hanging out at gas stations (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper "You Auto Know," an enterprise I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know I also handled computer documentation for most of my earnings while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.