Interview with Nicolas Paris, Head of Business Development Electric Vehicles at Total
The time is now. Electric cars, the environment, health issues and rising fuel costs are making the headlines everywhere. The production of electric cars and charging infrastructures are gearing up to a whole new level and more and more people (and businesses) are getting ready for the change. For those who are hesitating about moving to driving electric, here are eleven good reasons why you need wait no longer!
1 – Experience True Driving Pleasure
Something that rarely gets mentioned in EV discussions is the enhanced driving pleasure. “Driving an EV gives a real feeling of wellbeing when driving” says Nicolas Paris. “It’s a more relaxed experience and much smoother, with no noise or vibrations. Most of the time you only need to use the accelerator pedal, as nearly all EVs have regenerative breaking. You can feel the power, but they are really simple to drive”
2 – Longer lifecycle
Quite simply, electric vehicles have a longer lifetime. An electric motor is much simpler than a combustion engine, as there are 100 times fewer moving parts. Some EVs have already notched up over a million kilometres, which is an average of 4 times more than a traditional car. This means that you get more for your money in the long run.
3 – Lower running costs
The relative simplicity of an electric motor means there are much fewer spare parts to replace and less friction between components. This means no oil changes and much lower maintenance costs.
4 – Safer to drive
The way that EVs are designed, means that the battery pack reinforces the structure and chassis of the car. Shocks are better absorbed on impact, reducing injuries to drivers and passengers. Crash tests have therefore shown that most EVs are safer to drive.
5- Better for the environment
Nitrates produced by traditional thermal cars are a major cause of heart and lung diseases for city dwellers. With electric cars, these emissions are almost eradicated – apart from those produced by the friction of tyres or braking.
EVs are always better for the environment. Even when powered by the most carbon intensive electricity, they perform better on a lifecycle basis, including the emissions produced during manufacturing. This is proven in a recent independent study produced by the VUB University in Brussels for the Transport & Environment NGO.* Moreover, if you have the possibility to charge your car from renewable sources, you can reduce your CO2 emissions by up to 85%, depending on your country of residence and clean energy mix.
6 – Fuel cost savings
Charging costs compared to fuel mean an average saving of around 70%, depending on your country of residence and your mix of charging at home, at work, or on the road. Charging at work or in shopping centres is often free, while the cost of charging at home in Belgium is approximately 20 eurocents per kilowatt hour during the night-time tariff.
7- More accessible purchase prices
Prices of EVs are becoming more accessible, with a range of new models now available under the 30,000 euro price point. The trend is continuing, particularly as the price of Lithium-ion batteries, one of the single most expensive components, has fallen by approximately 80% over the last 8 years. “Moreover, combined with the savings in fuel and maintenance, along with the longer lifecycle, it is the total cost of ownership that makes electric vehicles really economically interesting” says Nicolas.[j1]
8- Tax incentives
As national governments deploy measures to improve their green credentials, many countries in Europe – including the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and the UK – have financial incentives to encourage individuals and businesses in their transition to drive electric. These include purchase grants of up to 8000 euros (depending on the country) when petrol or diesel vehicles are traded-in, as well as VAT reductions or waivers on purchases.
9 - Charging infrastructures ramping up
The network of EV charging stations around Europe and beyond is expanding rapidly. “Currently there are around 35,000 public charging stations each in the Netherlands” says Nicolas. “There are only around 5,000 in Belgium, but it is a much smaller country and people tend to have better facilities for charging at home. I myself mostly charge at home during the night. At Total, we have installed fast chargers at every service station on the highways in Belgium. For longer trips, I charge there while having lunch or a coffee in the shop. One of the interesting trends is the increase in the number of companies that are introducing electric chargers, including hotels. We will soon see this becoming more frequent in large supermarkets and commercial centres.”
10- Distance ranges increasing
The distance that electric vehicles can cover on one full charge has become a ‘fading constraint’, thanks to improved battery technologies. The current new norm is moving towards a range of 400 kilometres on one full charge, with 540 kilometres being the top spec for a Tesla Model S.
11 – The social aspect
Let’s not forget the great social aspect. Electric vehicle owners around the world love to meet each other while charging, or at owner club events. “All of the all EV users I have met have mentioned this” says Nicolas Paris. “I guess it is a group of people with similar mind-sets and topics of conversation. We get to share experiences about our travels and our frustrations on the road with thermal cars. Once you drive electric there is no way you want to go back!”
Try it for yourself!
So what are you waiting for? The new hire car company Ufodrive has locations around city centres and airports in Europe and offers an all-electric fleet, giving the perfect opportunity to try the experience. For more information visit www.ufodrive.com
*The emissions lifecycle study mentioned can be viewed at https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/electric-cars-emit-less-co2-over-their-lifetime-diesels-even-when-powered-dirtiest-electricity
About Nicolas Paris
Nicolas is an electromechanical engineer with over a decade of experience in the power and gas sector. During his career he launched Belgium’s first ever EV-only-adoption for a corporate fleet, with Lampiris, a leading green electricity provider. He currently heads up the product development for electric vehicles, within the gas and power entity of the Total group.