Since electric cars are all the rage at the Paris Auto Show this year—with everyone from Kia to Mercedes offering up a model—I thought I would examine some of the myths surrounding electric vehicles (EV).
1. Electric cars pollute as much as regular cars do
While many electric cars fall short of the “zero emissions” claim, they create much less pollution than even the cleanest gas or diesel cars. Why? Gas-powered vehicles move hot liquid fuel through an internal combustion engine. Electric cars move power from batteries through an electric motor, which is three to five times more efficient. More efficiency means less pollution. Plus, charging your electric car via power lines is way easier than extracting oil, refining it, and then shipping it across the world.
2. Electric cars are for wealthy people
Remember when cell phones first came out? Not only were they the size of a small baby, they were ridiculously expensive. Now, you can get one for $50. The first electric cars did cost a pretty penny, and some still do, but some are on the more affordable side, too. Once there is a demand, production goes up, and prices go down. Plus, there is a $7,500 federal tax credit for the purchase of battery-powered cars, a second credit of $2000 that goes toward your home charger installation, and many states have their own incentive programs.
3. Electric cars will leave you stranded
Granted, most electric cars have a range of about one hundred miles and need at least a few hours to re-charge and get going after that. But unless there is a major malfunction or you completely ignore the one hundred mile limit, you are not going to get stranded. Maybe your electric car isn’t the best vehicle for your 3,000-mile trek across the Sahara, but driving it to the grocery store is most likely a safe bet. You charge your cell phone every night—why not your car?
4. Electric cars won’t work until we have public charging stations
Sure, charging stations at gas stations would help a great deal, but most people in the U.S. drive less than forty miles a day, well under the one hundred mile limit. Public charging stations would increase the range of electric cars, but many people are operating them just fine now.
5. Electric car batteries can explode and won’t last
If you think about it, pretty much anything is capable of exploding, but electric car batteries are not high on the list. Modern lithium-ion batteries have few, if any, dangerous chemicals that can combine to catch fire. Electric car batteries are designed to last ten years or 100,000 miles—modern lithium-ion batteries will meet or exceed that.
6. The technology is too complicated
Modern electric vehicles have about five moving parts—compare that to hundreds of moving parts in an internal combustion engine and … well, there’s just no comparison. Oil changes? Nope. Filter changes? Nada. Even the brakes last longer than conventional cars. Your first expenses would be brake pads, new wiper blades, and tires.
7. Electric cars are slow
When I first heard about electric cars, I imagined Kenny's Go Go Action Bronco from South Park as it fled from the police at about two miles per hour before puttering to a stop. But I couldn’t be further from the truth. Since electric motors feature low-end torque, they are very fast off the line and some of them can even blow a Mustang out of the water.
People are scared of change—even when it’s for the better—and this new technology is a big change. Maybe the problem is that we have a hard time believing that electric cars are as awesome as they sound. When things seem too good to be true, they usually are. Maybe this time, though, things are different.