Unfortunately, there are many myths about EVs promoted by various groups and individuals. The main thrust of these myths is to convince people EVs are no better or actually worse than fossil fuel powered vehicles for performance, environmental impacts or other issues. Some myths are created to provide cover to people who consider themselves environmentalists, encouraging them to put off buying an EV until as far in the future as possible. In fact, the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is urgent today. Buying an EV is one of the quickest ways to reduce your personal GHG footprint, especially if you live in rural America, where few public transportation systems exist, and it’s common for us to put 50-100 miles a day on a vehicle to go hiking, hunting, camping, skiing, boating, fishing, etc.
Dear Future Generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.Kurt Vonnegut
If you do not believe global warming is occurring, that humans have not caused it, or that it will actually be beneficial to humans, you will find no one to argue with here. If you don’t already believe it based on what is known at this point in history, there is no fact to be learned or authority to be quoted who would change your mind now. Just lean back and keep your mind on EVs’ mind-bending power and handling performance, economy and convenience of operation, and what life would be like without the stinky inconvenience of having to stop at gas stations all the time.
The following websites are sources we know to be truthful and dependable on the general topic of climate change/global warming. Enough said.
Myths aside, today EVs surpass internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles on nearly every measure of performance, desirability, environmental impacts, lifetime cost and convenience of use. The myth that it is better environmentally to keep your old ICE vehicle until it wears out has been debunked. (See video and links below in the EVS are Worse for the Environment section.)
EVs are Inconvenient
We’ll start with this one, since it contains a kernel of truth for long-distance trips.
Charging takes too long
Commuting and day-to-day use
First, let’s bust the myth part: for regular day-to-day commutes of less than 50 miles round trip, EVs are much more convenient than fossil fuel powered vehicles. You can plug it in at home in a wall socket to get all the fuel you need. If you install a Level 2 charger at your home or have one available at your workplace or apartment or condo complex, you can commute 200 miles or more day without having to stop to recharge. In these situations, you park it, plug it in and walk away. When you wake the next day or get off work, you’ve got a full battery, ready to go once again. No detouring to get to a gas station, waiting in line at the pump or having fuel smell on your hands.
Long-Distance Trip Charging
First, there are two groups of EVs when it comes to fast-charging (being able to fill up from almost empty to full in less than an hour): Tesla and Non-Tesla. You pay more for a Tesla partly because that company invested in fast charging stations all over the U.S. so you can conveniently travel almost anywhere with short stops to refuel. None of the other EV manufacturers (almost all are existing car companies) have taken any steps to provide EV fast charging stations. They are sitting back waiting for others (governments and/or private entities) to do it for them. Therefore, the non-Tesla fast-charging network is going in more slowly and in a somewhat piecemeal way.
At the end of 2019, when this is being written, fast charging stations are beginning to be installed on all US Interstates at intervals of less than 100 miles. At that interval, a mid-range EV getting a bit more than 200 miles on a full battery can afford to pass up a charger to stop at the next one. At this time, someone starting with a full 60 kWh battery (a Chevy Bolt or similar) can drive from Durango, Colorado to:
- Gallup, NM (and then on to other destinations in NM and AZ along I-40),
- Grand Junction, CO (and then on to destinations eastward on I-70),
- Moab, UT (and then on to destinations west and north of I-70),
- Albuquerque, NM (if you carefully keep the speed limit and don’t need to use the cabin heater much.)
Plans and funding are in place in Colorado, through Colorado Energy Office programs, to install fast chargers in Pagosa Springs, Cortez, Silverton and Durango, CO by the summer of 2020. They are also funding stations in other areas of rural, state highway-served communities throughout Colorado.
So, here at the end of 2019, with the fast charging infrastructure as it is and the number of EVs on the road, you can take interstate road-trips with careful planning and not having to wait for a plug to be available when you arrive at interstate charging stations. State governments have funds available through the VW Emissions Scandal settlement with which to install more fast chargers. Power utility companies and co-ops who see EVs as a new source of income for their electricity are also on board to fund fast chargers. This situation is on track to improve.
But what about the waiting to charge? Yes, after 3 hours of constant driving, you will have to wait 40 minutes to an hour to fill your battery from almost empty to almost full. Make the most of it. Get out and walk around, stretch, get coffee, tea, or a meal, read a book or a long article, watch birds, take a nap, eat a sandwich with both hands, not having half of it fall in your lap. See Road-Trip Charging for more detailed information.
EVs rule over fossil fuel engines for maintenance. Think of those annual (or more often) oil changes. Whether you do it yourself or take it to a garage, oil changes take at least an hour and cost $20 to $50 or more. With an EV, you will never again need to get an oil change. The EV motor doesn’t use oil.
EV motors have about 20 moving parts. Gas and diesel engines have about 2,000. With an EV, there are no spark plugs, belts, hoses, radiator liquids or air filters. There is no alternator to wear out, no timing belt or chain to break. With an EV, even brake pads last longer because the electric motor uses the energy created as the car comes to a stop or coasts down a hill to recharge the battery.
EV maintenance is limited to checking the battery’s condition annually. It takes about 5 minutes. Other maintenance would include tire changes and issues which might occur with the interior heating system or other accessories.
EVs are Worse for the Environment
From an environmental point of view, switching to an EV is the biggest single step car-driving people can take to reduce their personal greenhouse gas (GHG) and air pollution emissions. We’ve waited a long time for governments to address air pollution and GHG emission reductions. They’ve made very little progress 30 years after it became commonly acknowledged global warming was a serious threat. It’s been even longer since the negative impacts of rising air pollution have been known. Buying an EV is something within reach for most middle-class Americans and a strong signal to the economy we will put our money where our mouths are when it comes to reducing our own environmental impacts.
If you get electricity from a coal-fired power plant, EVs are just as dirty or worse than fossil fuel cars
You can use the Union for Concerned Scientists’ How Clean is Your Electric Vehicle? feature to get information specific to your area and its electric grid’s mix of power generation. For the Four Corners counties:
- In La Plata County, Colorado a BEV creates 59% of the GHG emissions of a gas-fueled car.
- In San Juan County, Utah, San Juan County, New Mexico and Navajo and Apache Counties, AZ a BEV creates 28% of the GHG emissions of gas-fueled car.
EVs have greater environmental and energy costs associated with their manufacture
As long as people want personal transportation which will take them hundreds of miles in a day at high speeds, transportation is going to inflict damage on the environment. All vehicles require mining for raw materials, plastics and other synthetic materials to build them. However, the Union for Concerned Scientists found battery electric vehicles generate half the emissions of comparable gas vehicles over their entire life cycle. (From building new to retiring the vehicle at the end of its life.) This is true even when the battery manufacturing is accounted for. Read more at: Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave.
EVs aren’t tough enough for mountain driving
EVs are excellent for mountain driving. Ask any Colorado EV driver. Because of the regenerative braking, they begin slowing the car as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator, making them much more responsive to the driver. EVs low center of gravity keeps them steady on curves and less likely to slide in snowy and icy conditions.
However, be aware cold weather and running the heater in winter decreases EV range by about 10%. An electric motor doesn’t create much heat, so the battery has to run a heater coil to heat the car’s cabin, which uses extra electricity. Fossil fuel cars also have decreased fuel efficiency in cold winter weather. All cars experience some loss of efficiency in cold weather because cold air is more dense than warm air, and so it takes more energy to push a vehicle through it.
Electric vehicles generate much more torque than gas vehicles, which is important because torque is what drives the vehicle forward. Furthermore, an electric car’s motor eliminates the need for a traditional transmission in many modern designs. The power goes straight to the wheels for instant acceleration, making EVs quicker on the start. Here’s a good overview article on the topic of EVs vs fossil fuel vehicle performance: Gas-Powered vs Electric Cars: Which is Faster?
By Sarah Kelly