Matt Prior: Can you drive an EV with a pacemaker?

99 volkswagen e up cutaway above

Does this potential problem with EVs have any evidence to back it up?

Some correspondence this week.

A reader writes from Australia to ask: is it safe to drive an EV if you have a pacemaker?

I confess that this subject hadn’t even crossed my mind. But fortunately it did cross the minds of some scientists from a university and a cardiovascular research centre in Munich and the Wellington Hospital in New Zealand, who in 2020 published the results of a study on it. In short, it’s not a problem.

They took 108 patients with various cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs, meaning pacemakers or defibrillators) and exposed them to the electromagnetic fields in four electric cars (a BMW i3, a Nissan Leaf, a Tesla Model S and a Volkswagen e-Up), both while driving under full power in a laboratory, so the field was as big as it could have been, and while charging.

EVs do produce electromagnetic fields (most notably around their batteries), but these are very well shielded to prevent interference with other on-board electronic systems.

The highest electromagnetic field that the researchers recorded was actually along a cable during a 32A charge, cables being less well shielded than the car itself.

The researchers did recommend further study into fast chargers, which today employ a much higher current and therefore a bigger electromagnetic fi eld than in their study, conducted late last decade, but at no point did any of their research find interference with any of the patients’ CIEDs.

Civic or Corolla? I’ll take the Citroen, thanks

A friend who has no interest in cars writes for advice about buying one. He has on his shortlist a used Honda Civic and a newer Toyota Corolla hybrid.

That’s not a bad position to start from. When I’m asked to recommend a car to someone who knows and cares nothing about them, those are the sort of models that I end up naming: reliable, unremarkable cars that fit into your life like a kitchen tap. I would suggest that you or I buy a Morgan Super 3; them not so much.

Anyway, will the money saved running the more economical Corolla offset the fact that it’s more expensive to buy than the Civic, he wonders?

It depends how long you keep it, how much you drive it and what happens to fuel prices, I say. It’s a lot of hours in a spreadsheet, open to fluctuation and probably marginal in the end, so I suggest that he try both of them and buy whichever he prefers. So he does – and comes away with the Citroën C3 he was taken with instead.

It’s a reminder that, for all the objectivity in the world, cars talk to all of us in different ways.

Thoughts from the dentist

I’ve just got back from the dentist, always a reminder of my greatest error of judgement: aged 18, knocking out my front teeth on the steering wheel of a Mini that wasn’t exactly mine (sorry, Steve).

I try to think about something else during ultrasonic tooth descaling, of which I’m no fan. The process reminds me that I need to do the equivalent to an old carburettor. Ethanol in modern fuels is hygroscopic, drawing in water from the atmosphere, so E5 unleaded, which has only 5% of it, is friendlier than E10, which has twice that.

If you take apart a neglected carb, it can look pretty nasty, clogged and corroded. I don’t let that happen to my motorbike: even through the winter, I run it up regularly. As with teeth, I think that’s the better way.

Source: Autocar

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