Top 10 Most Common Electric Car Myths Busted



For most consumers, electric vehicles are still the cars of the future. Yet with many new battery-powered rides scheduled for release in the coming years, the future is closer than many might believe.

Those who remain unschooled in the virtues of plug-in vehicles often hold onto dated and inaccurate perceptions of this particular vehicular genre. Here’s a quick look at 10 common misconceptions about electric cars that we’ve bathed in the bright light of reality.


Americans drive an average of 40 miles a day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Even the shortest-range electric vehicles can travel more than twice that distance before needing to be tethered to the power grid. Among affordable EVs, the Nissan Leaf can run for an average 150 miles on a charge, while the Chevrolet Bolt EV ups the ante to 238 miles, and the full-electric version of the Hyundai Kona boasts an operating range of 258 miles. If you have deeper pockets, the top version of the Tesla Model 3 has 310-mile range, while its costlier sibling, the Model S maxes out at 335 miles on a charge. Tesla claims its new Roadster, expected in 2020, will be able to operate for 620 miles per charge.


Electric vehicles are, in fact, generally quicker than their gasoline-powered counterparts. That’s because an electric motor generates 100% of its available torque instantly. When the driver of an EV pushes down on the accelerator pedal, the transition from stationary to speed is almost instantaneous. In fact, the top version of the Tesla Model S, when engaged in its so-called “ludicrous” mode, is one of the quickest production cars in the world at any price, with a 0-60 mph time clocked at a sudden 2.5 seconds.


Though battery costs are expected to drop dramatically in the coming years, for the time being most EVs are premium priced, compared to similar gas-powered models. But most are still eligible for a one-time $7,500 federal tax credit granted to EV buyers that helps level the proverbial playing field. The exceptions here are Tesla models. That’s because the credits are scheduled to phase out during the calendar year after an automaker sells 200,000 full electric and/or plug-in hybrid models, which is a milestone Tesla reached during 2018. Credits on Tesla vehicles are now $3,750 for those being sold through June 30, 2019. The credit will then be reduced to just $1,875, and eliminated on December 31, 2019. General Motors is likewise hitting the 200,000-unit mark and will see its subsidies shrink over the course of 12 months beginning in 2019.

A few states offer their own subsidies to EV buyers. In Colorado, for example, they’re eligible for a $5,000 state income tax credit. California residents can get a cash rebate of between $2,500 and $4,500 from the state, depending on their income.

If you want to drive an EV but are on a tight budget consider a used model. Pre-owned EVs are cheap these days, thanks to a combination of factors, including limited demand and the aforementioned federal tax credit, which effectively and immediately slashes an EV’s resale value by $7,500. Also, pre-owned electric cars tend to be driven fewer miles than the norm, given their inherently limited ranges, which means they’ve typically endured less wear and tear.


Since they’re generally low-volume vehicles, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests all EVs for their crashworthiness. However, where they are tested they generally get good marks. For example, the Chevrolet Bolt EV gets five out of five stars for occupant protection from NHTSA, as do the Tesla Model 3 and Model X (the Model S has yet to be tested).

As for concerns over EV batteries catching fire – perhaps even exploding – in a collision, they appear to be somewhat exaggerated. A recent in-depth investigation on the subject conducted by NHTSA concluded that the frequency and severity of fires and explosions from lithium ion battery systems are comparable to or perhaps slightly less than those for gasoline or diesel-powered models.


Electric motors convert 75 percent of the chemical energy from the batteries to power the wheels. By comparison, internal combustion engines (ICEs) only convert 20 percent of the energy stored in gasoline. What’s more, EVs emit no direct tailpipe pollutants. Some argue they still pollute the atmosphere, at least indirectly, via the power plants that produce the electricity necessary to operate them.

EVs tend to fare best in this regard when charged in parts of California, New York, and the Pacific Northwest, where renewable energy resources are prevalent, and less so in central U.S. states like Colorado, Kansas and Missouri because of their greater dependence on fossil fuels to produce electricity. At that, a study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded that EVs are generally responsible for less pollution than conventional vehicles in every region of the U.S.


Even with the cost to a gallon of gas remaining relatively affordable, it’s still cheaper to keep an electric car running. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the Hyundai Ioniq Electric will cost an owner $500 a year to traverse 15,000 miles, based on average electricity rates. That amounts to an estimated $5,000 less than the average vehicle owner will spend in fuel costs over a five-year period.


On the other hand, EVs cost less to keep running than ICE-powered vehicles. EVs don’t require regular oil changes or tune-ups, and there are far fewer moving parts to eventually fail and need replacing. EVs use a simple one-speed transmission and eschew items like spark plugs, valves, fuel tank, muffler/tailpipe, distributor, starter, clutch, drive belts, hoses, and a catalytic converter.


Most electric vehicle charging is done at home or at work. As of this writing there are about 20,000 charging stations up and running in the U.S. and you’ll usually find them at retail parking lots, public parking garages, and new-car dealerships in areas where EVs are most prevalent. While most are 220-volt Level 2 chargers that take around four hours to replenish an EV’s battery pack, a growing number of Level 3 public stations, also known as DC Fast Charging, can replenish as much as 80% of a EV’s state of charge in around 30 minutes. If you’re planning a road trip, plotting a course and picking a destination that’s dotted with Level 3 chargers is essential.


Electric vehicles are federally mandated to carry separate warranties for their battery packs for at least eight years or 100,000 miles. According to published reports, Nissan Leaf models that were used as taxicabs retained 75% of their battery capacity after 120,000 miles on the road. A Tesla owner is said to be able to have 90% of his or her car’s battery life in tact after 200,000 miles. Once depleted, EV batteries, like 99% of the batteries found in conventional cars, can be recycled. For example, used EV power cells can be used to store solar and wind energy, or they can be broken down with their more-valuable elements reused.


According to a report conducted by Navigant Research, the nation can add millions of electric cars to the current power system without having to build any new power plants. Much of this has to do with the fact that most electric vehicles tend to be charged at night during off-peak hours when power demand tends to be the lowest.


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27 Comments on "Top 10 Most Common Electric Car Myths Busted"

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Some states (Georgia) have punitive registration fees in place for EVs. These states try and recover fuel taxes, that would be traditionally collected at the fuel pump on gas and diesel. The few states that have higher vehicle registration fees, that are exclusively for EVs, have an ulterior motive for their exorbitant fee structure.

Fair and not fair,–regional-govt–politics/georgia-lawmakers-try-bring-back-electric-vehicle-tax-break/MJIY2sPBwYK4NXAtHsEqRJ/amp.html

That’s so bizarre…Georgia used to have a really nice EV incentive and then they flipped to being completely punitive to EVs. Republicans are really like those dopes that “roll coal” just to be jerks.

You can’t blame only Republicans. Washington state is run by the Democrat Party, and they have increased taxes on EV’s in lieu of gasoline taxes. They also dropped their tax credit for EV’s.

Democratic is the adjective, but maybe you know that.

Roads still need to be built and maintained, and that cost is not getting cheaper. Fuel tax was a easy way to make that ‘fair’ because all vehicles used fuel (of some sort) and the heavier vehicles caused more road wear but used more fuel to offset that. With more EVs now, the $ available for roads is going down, so there needs to be a way to ensure EVs share their portion of the road maintenance. Probably the easiest way to do that is registration fees. For now it is as fair as we can get. It is not punitive by definition to do so, though some states can make it so high that it is punitive.

1, 3 and 8 are still fully or partially valid. The rest are pure bull.

All of them are slowly going away though…

There certainly are some glittering generalities here. For some people, #1, #3 and/or #8 are not myths at all.

Furthermore, in some areas of the U.S. (fortunately not many), electricity prices are so high that #6 is also true.

I don’t think that EV advocates are helping the EV revolution at all by claiming these are all myths. It’s true that every year, new EV models are more capable, have longer range, and can charge faster, but it’s simply not true to claim that nobody have enough range for everyone, or that they are not more expensive than comparable gasmobiles.

Plug-in EVs will fit the lifestyle of a lot of people, probably significantly more than most people realize. But they are not yet for everyone, and probably won’t be for some years.

One size does not fit all, and the YMMV maxim (Your Mileage May Vary) also applies to EVs.

The one upside for BEV owners in states with high electricity fees is that they tend to have higher gasoline prices too. California electricity is more costly than most states, but so is their gasoline. They are getting gouged on electricity every month, but if they went back to gassers, they would be paying through the nose for gasoline as well.

Agreed. The article is accurate if everyone used their vehicles only to commute to work, and would pick something like a BMW over an EV.

For those doing longer distances, at lower price points a lot of the points are incorrect.

1 3 8 9 are true.

#8 is only partially true. Many or most EV battery packs do eventually wind up in landfills, but the idea that they won’t last long is a myth. Aside from Leafs, the vast majority of EV battery packs will last as long as the car does.

NONE of those are true.

I’m not going to get into the minutia of this list – what I will say is that cars like the VOLT are very mainstream vehicles that did much to negate the negatives to the public being desirous of a Plug-in electric car.

It still is the most popular plug-in in the States – hopefully it wont be too much of a switch for an American consumer desirous of a plug-in to go to the Honda Clarity or Toyota Prius Prime once the VOLT is no more.

First off, the volt is not an EV.
Secondly, it is not even CLOSE to being the most popular.

Heck, just look at this sites sales figures.

The volt and bolt are down the list.
They sell less than MS or MX. And bolt and volt sell as much in a YEAR as M3 is selling in a MONTH.
And you think it is the most popular of the plug-ins?
GM is bankrupt, again, in 3 years because of the fools that run it.

There have been more volts sold in the USA than any other PHEV. I’m not talking about the RATE of sales.

Not all EVs are the same. 1. There are a number of electric cars being sold with less than optimal range, although there are now also longer range EVs 2. I can agree that most EVs accelerate normally or better than a comparable gas car 3. Long range EVs are expensive thus far. They cost higher than the average car price, sometimes much higher 4. EVs have been shown to be as safe as any other car 5. Based on The last studies I remember, any vehicle that gets better than 50-70 miles per gallon would be environmentally comparable to an EV 6. In most cases, electricity is cheaper than gasoline. However, when there are more electric cars on the road, operating costs for EVs are likely to increase as government seeks to recoup income lost from gas taxes 7. Nissan LEAFs (leaves?) are cheap to maintain & repair. Teslas are not. Depends on the make & model of the car 8. EVs are more practical for wealthier people right now. For those who can afford to own their own home and install a charger (not to mention buy an expensive new car), EVs are very practical. For the rest… Read more »

What cars get 50 to 70 mpg? A typical EV gets well over 100 mpge.

A battery pack doesn’t suddenly expire when the warranty is over. Compare the typical 36-month warranty for an ICE vehicle to the 12-year life expectancy as well. Which is better?

In summertime at moderate speeds my 19 yr old Saturn has used as little as 5.8L/100km which is equivalent to about 48m/u.s. gallon. So if 19 yr old technology can come that close…………………………….. No wonder GM got rid of Saturn.

Regarding #9 The Leaf battery especially degrades more with time rather than mileage.
If you can rack up miles early then great but if your annual mileage is low then a Leaf is a lot more expensive than a ICE car.

Note: In other countries the situation is different. I’m writing about the situation in Germany. “Americans drive an average of 40 miles a day […]” Imagine a country consisting of 2 persons: Somebody with 0$ and one with 100,000$. In average everybody has 50,000$, everthing’s fine *facepalm* – So for people having a 5 day working week and don’t drive much at the weekends, it means like 56miles/working day. – I know many people who are only at the weekends at home. So at the weekend, they’re driving very much. So it means like driving 2x 140 miles at the weekend. In Germany it’s similar. And: – For traffic jams, detours, winter, battery degradation, etc. you need more range. – Already had the problem that my garage was blocked spontaneously for some weeks or there was a power blackout (re-authorization is probably required, so bad in the night even if it’s short). And most people can’t charge at work. Sadly charging is still quite slow if you don’t have like a Audi e-tron (150kW) and a good network of chargers (the SC network is still quite thin for a commuter while there’re more and more >=100kW CCS chargers also within… Read more »

Actually, for American east coast cities, as well as a lot of Europe, a better idea would be to build chargers into streetlights, parking meters, etc. Heck, for older towns here in the west, we might put up hitching posts with a hidden charger inside.
Posts could also be used to lock bikes to. Lots of ideas are possible.

1 is still true for highway travel at or above the speed limit for people who don’t live on the west coast of the US and who aren’t willing or able to pony up for a Tesla. Even for people who do own Teslas highway range in areas which get real winter (temps below 10F) can be problematic. There are multiple threads on the model 3 forum about 150 miles of range on the highway followed by _really slow_ Supercharging in really cold weather. But, for local use I agree that assuming one has home or workplace charging range has become a non-issue. And the instant heat EVs provide and ability to pre-condition is so very nice. Someday BEVs will reach range parity with ICE in really cold weather at highway speeds but there is still a big gap there.

All good and well, but how about EV myths from the other angle? Many think EV are like gasser (ie, 120 MPGe means paying 1/4 the money to fuel, free charging available means all gas stations offer something free, or 30 minutes fast charge is to 100%) Maybe I’ll dig deeper in my blog… 1. EV get way over 100 MPGe while gas cars get 30MPG, so you pay 1/3 to 1/4 the fuel cost of gas cars with EV. Actual money you pay is typically more than MPGe on window sticker would have to believe. MPG equivalent in $ depends on your electricity rate, driving speed, local gas price. For $0.27/kWh (base rate San Diego) at 4 mi/kWh (65 MPH with 119 MPGe rated Bolt) and local gas at $3/gal, you expect to pay equivalent to about 38 MPG gas car. It’s similar to gas car like VW GTI (37 MPG highway), hardly quadruple the MPGe figure would lead you to believe. Worse, CA adds $100 tax on EV per year, so the actual money you pay to “fuel EV” is more than GTI in above scenario. Depending on miles you drive, that 119 MPGe could cost about 30… Read more »
With regards to #9, I have read that only 5% of Li-Ion batteries are being recycled at end of life. But it was a Seeking Alpha article so the accuracy of the statement is questionable. Given the fact that BEV/PHEV’s didn’t really begin to arrive in any numbers until 2010, and that only Nissan Leafs have had that much in the way of battery degradation, it seems like we really won’t know what happens to BEV packs at end of life (less than 75%-80% of original capacity) for another 2 to 5 years. It sounds like Retriev (formerly Toxco) is the major player for battery recycling in the US and Canada, and they are taking a wait and see approach. But right now it really seems like re-use/re-purpose is the best answer for the packs that are being retired from BEV’s/PHEV’s, either due to degradation of capacity or junking the car. It may end up being true that the majority of packs won’t be recycled. But right now it is hard to tell what will happen. And the life of a pack could end up being in excess of 20 years in many cases when you add in the re-purpose… Read more »

I am getting a little concerned about #6. Gas hit $1.80 in nearby San Marcos, TX…

This is in part why I am pushing my CONgress critters to provide funding for infrastructure. In particular, I would like to see us raise gas/diesel by .01 / gal EACH MONTH for the next 25, 50, or 100 months. The gas portion needs to go to the state where collected and both gas/diesel needs to be for infrastructure only.

By doing it slowly, but steadily, it will give the economy time to adjust.

#10 is not quite accurate. It, along with multiple studies from EIA, and other groups, have all said that there is plenty of power, AS LONG AS WE CHARGE AT NIGHT. They also say that if we do NOT charge at night (such as we load our fleet with PHEVs/short range EVs that charge in the daytime), then we do NOT have enough power/electricity.
Another issue is that all of the reports assumed fairly low charge rates. All said that if we were to fill up and expect a high fill-up rate (i.e. using 350-1000 MW), we would also be in trouble with the GRID, as well as the plants (esp. with our moving towards AE and not on-demand). Even with batteries to buffer, that WILL produce issues.

Now, with that said, it will not be an issue until we get a sizable % of our vehicles flipped. Like over 1/3 (I do not recall any of the studies coming up with hard numbers). Needless to say, it will be a while. WHile majority of new car sales are going to flip to EVs by 2022/3, it will take a LONG time for the fleet to convert.