Should CNET Revise its “Ten Reasons Electric Cars Still Suck” List?


Every so often, while perusing news feeds to dig for the latest info on plug-in vehicles, we stumble across an article that catches our attention, not for its timeliness or relevance, but rather for the idiocy contained within.

That’s the case here with this 2010 CNET article titled “Ten Reasons Electric Cars Still Suck: We Unplug the EV Hype.”  It’s dated, that’s for sure, but it’s still found on CNET’s site, which makes us wonder whether CNET should “revise” it or remove it due to the fact that most of the highlighted reasons are now factually incorrect (note: most of the 10 reasons present by CNET were inaccurate even back in 2010.)

CNET writer Rory Reid, a known opponent of electric vehicles, says CNET “spotted several crucial drawbacks in EVs that mean they’re potentially more expensive to run and are, in some cases, more harmful to the environment than their gas-guzzling counterparts.”

CNET highlights 10 reasons why taking the “electric car plunge” is a bad decision.

Here we present that list (minus Reid’s lengthy explanations) and ask of you to chime in on whether or not any of the points made by Reid have validity.

Forget the Biased Opinions.  We're Searching for "Just the Facts Mam."

Forget the Biased Opinions. We’re Searching for “Just the Facts Mam.”

10. They’re expensive to buy

9. They’re expensive to run

8. Zero emissions is a lie

7. They take forever to recharge

6. Quick charging can damage batteries

5. The driving range is pathetic

4. EVs make other appliances more expensive

3. EVs could raise electricity taxes

2. Where’s the resale value?

1. They’re useless for inner-city inhabitants

In all fairness, Reid concluded with this statement back in 2010:

“Electric cars have a long way to go before they’re viable alternatives to cars that use internal combustion engines. We welcome their development and in many cases remain hugely impressed by the best examples of electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster. The simple fact, though, is EVs still have numerous flaws that seriously restrict their appeal.  All the problems we’ve mentioned above can be fixed, but some will take longer than others to solve. Until that time, it looks as if hybrids and old-fashioned gas-guzzlers are a much more sensible bet for the average punter.”

So, we ask, we’re EVs this flawed back in 2010?  Was Reid way off the mark?  Have all the “problems” been fixed?  Are EVs now more “sensible bet for the average punter?”  Let’s discuss in Comments below.


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12 responses to "Should CNET Revise its “Ten Reasons Electric Cars Still Suck” List?"
  1. Aaron says:

    10. They’re expensive to buy
    Yes, they are. Still.

    9. They’re expensive to run
    Since when? Even in 2010 they weren’t expensive to run.

    8. Zero emissions is a lie
    True, but the emissions are significantly reduced.

    7. They take forever to recharge
    Yep, unless you’re talking about fast charging or Tesla’s SuperCharger network, but that’s not such an issue. Charge your car overnight like your cell phone.

    6. Quick charging can damage batteries
    Yep. Don’t do it often and you’re fine.

    5. The driving range is pathetic
    Not all vehicles are for all kinds of people. My EV works because my round-trip to/from work is 18 miles.

    4. EVs make other appliances more expensive
    Huh? No, it doesn’t. Improvements in lithium ion batteries have made them cheaper.

    3. EVs could raise electricity taxes
    I haven’t even heard this one. Fallacy?

    2. Where’s the resale value?
    And you drive a Kia? 🙂

    1. They’re useless for inner-city inhabitants
    That’s the best use of EVs: Inner-city. Are you high?

    1. Stacey R says:

      Re Point 4:
      The CNET argument is that by using more electricity you bump your energy rate to a higher tier in the rate plan. For example in PG&E territory you “baseline” in an urban area is around 110KWH/mo and you get $0.11/KWH electricity. When you climb to 300% of the baseline your rate per KWH jumps to $0.347 UNLESS you have a separate EV meter and the EV rate plan.

      The side affect of the extra consumption is that using any other electric appliance on the same meter you are charging your EV from will be at the same higher rate (potentially).

      1. Gene says:

        Two comments to that:

        1) At least where I live, the altered rate plan only applies to the excess electricity above some threshold. So if you use the rest of your electricity as before (i.e. you cook with your electric stove just as often), one can easily (and appropriately) think of it as the same rate for that electricity, but a different rate for the excess used by the EV.

        2) At least where I live, the rates for excess electricity usage are actually a decrease October-May, and an increase June-September. So, most of the year the EV would lead to lower rates.

        Before anyone says “must be nice to live where you live”, we have some of the highest electricity rates in the U.S.

    2. Dennis says:

      I think the compliant regarding inner-city use is that there is a lack of access to charging, since most would lack garages or even dedicated parking spaces.

      There has been talk about alternative taxes since EVs don’t pay gas tax, and therefore don’t contribute to funding road repairs, etc.

  2. Nelson says:

    10. They’re expensive to buy.
    Back in 2010 I would have said this statement is correct. Today it depends on whether you want a standard EV (Leaf), sporty EV (Tesla Roadster, MB AMG EV) or luxury EV (Tesla Model S). The price ranges and segments are still expanding.


    1. Stacey R says:

      Re no 10:

      If you run the numbers of gas mileage vs electric and cost of a vehicle you get a very interesting situation (CA based numbers):

      Average fleet economy (per EPA): 22 mpg for passenger sedan
      Average MPK (mile per KWH) : ~4 MPK

      Average consumer monthly spending on gasoline in California per AAA Fuel Gauge: $368
      This equates to $368/4 = 92 gallons/mo * 22 mpg = 2,024 miles +/-

      Cost of Electricity per KWH: $0.11 to $0.347

      Cost per mile to drive on Gasoline: $4.20gal/ 22mpg = $0.19 +/-
      Cost per mile on electricity: $0.11kwh/4mpk = $0.028 to $0.347/4 = $0.162/mile

      Assumes same driving as average per AAA we get
      low end saving on EV: (0.192 – 0.028) * 2024 = $331.94/mo savings
      hi cost electricity on EV: (0.192 – 0.162) * 2024 = $60.72/mo savings

      If you therefore have a low cost of energy (Under $0.22/kwh or so) you will save enough money each month to easily cover the entire cost of the $139 to $249/mo lease payment on a plug in car. You may even have extra cash in your pocket.

      Hmm…. new car, more cash in your pocket concurrently.

      1. Roy_H says:

        +1 I wish this site had thumbs up and thumbs down counters.

  3. Gene says:

    The EV itself is zero emissions (other than a small amount of heat & noise, which are considerably less than an ICE vehicle). It’s the infrastructure which is not zero emissions, so it isn’t a lie if it is in proper context. The gasoline (& diesel) infrastructure also isn’t zero emissions (heck, most of the transportation of the fuel is made by ICE delivery!), and we don’t speak about those emissions when we discuss the pollution performance of ICE vehicles. If you want to say EVs are not zero emissions, then treat the ICE infrastructure similarly. I’m all for it!

    1. e_Ray says:

      Exactly right. Never understood the hate behind the “not really zero emissions” canard. The VEHICLE emits no emissions (to speak of, maybe off gassing of the carpets?). Yes, the production of fuel (electricity, gas or whatever) produces emissions which are NEVER attributed to ICE or other fueled vehicles. Why only tag the EVs?

      Other side of the coin: although we have a 6kW PV system to run our home, I don’t claim to drive completely off the grid as all my charging is done off peak directly from the grid. Technically we do offset their dirty generation with our renewable energy, but I like to be accurate. My batteries are always charged by the grid during off peak time.

      Our goal is to generate enough energy to sell back during summer peak at 30 cents per kWH to cover our use of off peak power at 5 cents per kWH. So in theory if we generate 3,000 kWH during summer peak it will offset our total energy cost, but not actual consumption of 9,000 kWH for the entire year.

      I do understand and agree with the concept of offsetting dirty power with clean, but the truth is no one knows exactly which electrons one uses, or where they really came from during the time they are used.

  4. CNET Revised? I’m surprised InsideEV’s choose to revisit this troll post! Comments back in 2010 stated “Worst EV hit piece yet.”, still hold. The list is a “Top 10 EV Myths: taken out of context”.

    Since the CNET post; the number of EVs sold has been 100,000’s. In 2014 a single EV model (LEAF) will have sold over 100,000!

    Debates in popular-press center on whether an particular model’S EV can travel 250 miles, or 300+ miles in upper New York State; in the middle of winter! At issue, a journalist who stopped charging up 5-min. too early from the FREE Solar-powered network of super chargers. Easy mistake when pumping e-juice at over 160 kW’s per hour (over 600 miles per hour of fuel transfer). No super charger, no problem… 30% of EV owners in Californa are plugging into stored solar energy to charge at home (where the majority of US’s EVs fleet leave ICE in the slow lane).

    In 2010, there were just a handful of 50 kWh DC quick chargers in Japan… today a network of over 2000. In UK there was no quick charge stations… in few months there’ll be over 500. In US quick charging is somewhat stalled over debate of which plug-combo to use. However US has 10,000’s of 220V Level 2 charge points.

    In 2010 how many major automakers were building/selling EVs? Today, how many EV models to choose from? How many EVs in 2020? Price and competition is just starting to get amped up.

    What was gas price in 2010? Today the price of gas has doubled for most countries. What will gas cost in 2015… or, 2020?

  5. Dave K. says:

    10. They’re expensive to buy
    $28.8K-7.5-5(state tax credit)=$16.3K in Ga.
    9. They’re expensive to run
    ~1.5cents/mile on our TOU rate, even Prius is ~6
    8. Zero emissions is a lie
    According to DOE it takes 6kwhr of electricity to produce 1gal. of gas, I can drive 30miles on that, that doesn’t count the NG better used elsewhere, I would argue it’s not zero, it’s negative!
    7. They take forever to recharge
    True, but I’m asleep anyway.
    6. Quick charging can damage batteries
    So I don’t.
    5. The driving range is pathetic
    Covers my 40-50miles/day
    4. EVs make other appliances more expensive
    3. EVs could raise electricity taxes
    2. Where’s the resale value?
    Why would I ever sell a car this efficient and reliable?
    1. They’re useless for inner-city inhabitants