Top Electric Vehicle Myths

Electric vehicles are all the rage, but are they safe? Will they catch fire? Is there anywhere you can actually charge them? Let's separate the myth from truth.

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• Automotive: Electric Cars • Automotive: New Cars
• Automotive: Technology

Matt Anderson's Take
Top Electric Vehicle Myths

There are so many myths, misinformation, and flat out lies when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs) these days. Let's try and go over some of the top myths and find the truth about EVs.

Myth: EVs Can't Cut CO2 Because They Charge From Coal Plants
This is such a popular one. How can an EV be considered green if it has to plug into a smoke belching power plant? There is no one answer that resolves this question because there are too many variables.

Everything depends on how your power is generated! Let's cover the common scenarios based on how your local utility generates power.

Coal
This is the one we all associate with those smoke stacks and still where most of the power in the USA comes from. Some of these are the so called "clean coal" plants while others are far dirtier. Either way, these are hardly good for our environment. If you're power comes from coal, an EV may or may not be more "green" than a gas or diesel powered car.

Nuclear
Talk about a controversialy topic. For me, no matter how you slice this one nuclear power is a bad idea. I don't care how "clean" it may be, there is always the issue of spent nuclear fuel and how and where we store it. Spent fuel leaks happen. Nuclear plants melt down. These are a terrible idea.

If this is how you get your power will an EV be greener than a gas car? It comes down to how green you think a nuke plant is. I'd vote for gas being cleaner on this one.

Wind, Hydro, & Solar
Does all or some of your power come from a renewable resource like wind, hydro (dams), or solar? Or better yet, do you generate your own solar (or wind) power? Then chances are good that driving an EV is far more eco friendly than one that runs on dino juice.

Regardless of how your power is generated think about this: Electricity generation is getting better, cleaner, and more efficient all the time. As the years go by it will certainly make more sense to drive an EV, even if it doesn't for you today.

Myth: There's No Charging Infrastructure
This is just flat out wrong. First off, anywhere you see an outlet you have a way to charge an EV. It may be slow, but it's there. Most owners plug them in at home and charge overnight so the charging speed isn't an issue.

But what happens when you need a quick fill up and don't have 5-10 hours? There are plenty of websites and apps that list thousands of high power charging stations all over the USA. Many EVs even have GPS mapping built in to direct you to the nearest charging station.

Charging stations are common at stores, restaurants, malls and, are usually free. More are being add all the time.

Myth: I Can't Take A Road Trip In An EV
There is some truth to this. Many EVs have a range around 100 miles per charge or less. That makes taking a road trip a pain. Not impossible, but a pain.

Cars like the Tesla Model S and Model X have ranges of over 240 miles per charge (some are up to and even over 300 miles per charge). Tesla's Supercharger stations are so well placed across the country that you can travel the USA as you wish and charge as you go. Chevy's upcoming Bolt is promising 200 mile range per charge as well.

This may not be as easy and fast and gas cars, but that's all starting to change. You'll always have the option to rent a gas car for that road trip anyhow.

Myth: EV Batteries Can't Be Recycled
This one is just wrong. According to the EPA, around 99% of convential car batteries are recycled already. EV batteries are more valuable and are likely to see recycling rates at least as high as convential car batteries.

Myth: EVs Are Too Expensive
Yes they are! And yet, they really aren't. They do start out higher priced than a comparable gas car. The federal government then offers a rebate up to $7500 when you buy an EV. Some states add extra incentives on top of that.

Over the life of the car you'll save even more. EVs don't need any oil or filter changes, don't need tune ups, don't need smog checks, and need little maintenance.

Since they don't need gas you'll save on that as well. If you have solar panels on your house you can make your own free electricity. The price gap between EVs and gas cars is decreasing all the time as well.

Myth: Cheap Gas Will Kill EV Sales
This is possible but there is no proof of it. Even when gas prices dip down they always come back up. Cheap gas can't last.

As humans and a society we're terrible long term planners. We're too tempted by what's cheap right here and right now to be smart enough to plan decades out. But that doesn't matter, the harsh reality is that cheap gas will give way to expensive gas over time.

Myth: EV Batteries Are Dangerous
Any battery can be dangerous! We've all heard of cell phones burning up because of a bad battery. It can happen. It does happen.

There have even been some EV battery fires when the battery pack gets damaged. Even then the drivers had plenty of time to safely pull off the road and get out. These are very, very rare cases. Keep in mind that gas cars can ignite after an accident as well.

Battery technology is getting advanced. EV batteries today are quite safe and designed to prevent situations where one battery goes bad, catches fire, and spreads to the rest (known as thermal runaway). Modern crash tests have proven how safe EV batteries are.

Want to talk about dangerous batteries? See why that 9V you have in every smoke detector in your house is far more dangerous if not handled correctly by reading The Dangers Of A 9V Battery.

Myth: EVs Take Too Long To Charge
There is some truth here, sort of. Some of them do take a while to charge. Of course, if you're charging at home overnight this doesn't matter.

If you're out and stop at a charging station and need a quick charge you may be waiting a while. It could take 30 minutes to a few hours to get you enough range to move on.

But this is changing fast and in the case of the Tesla Superchargers you can get 170 miles of range on a 30 minute charge. Or, you can get a quick "top off" in minutes.
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