You want to do your part for the environment, and you think a plug-in car sounds cool, but some of the things you’ve heard are making you think twice. Don’t let the myths confuse you or scare you off. Before you change your mind and decide against an electric vehicle, let’s debunk six common myths about plug-in cars.
First let’s classify the different types of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs).
- PEV: Battery-electric vehicles run solely on grid-charged batteries..
- PHEV: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have batteries that are recharged from the electric grid, but also have internal combustion engines fueled by gasoline, so you’re not stranded when you’ve run out of charge.
MYTH 1: PEVs are way more expensive than the average car.
FACT: The initial cost of a PEV is slightly higher than many comparable cars, but when you take into consideration the total cost of ownership, you may actually come out ahead.
- Federal tax incentives – you may be eligible for an income tax credit up to $7,500, lowering the total cost of PEV ownership. 1
- PEVs can save owners 100% on oil; 35% on scheduled maintenance,2 and 30% on repairs compared to a gas-powered vehicles.3
- Depending on your driving patterns, a PEV may get the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon or more. This is equal to getting a few cents per mile compared to around 14 cents per mile in a traditional car.
MYTH 2: PEV’s only support short trips and not my daily commuting needs.
FACT: For most Americans, the average daily commute is 40 miles. PEVs target at least 100 miles on a single full charge. For 90% of all U.S. household trips, that would be more than enough.4 If you regularly exceed that range, then you may want to look at a PHEV, which could give you a range of up to 300 miles or more if you include the gasoline range.5
MYTH 3: A PEV will make my energy usage go up.
FACT: Your electric use will go up, but your savings at the gas pump will more than offset the increase. The average full charge will add approximately .50 per day to your electric bill.
MYTH 4: PEV batteries can’t be recycled and are an environmental hazard.
FACT: More than 50% of the lithium-ion battery that is used in most PEVs can be recycled.6 Once the batteries are no longer usable for PEVs, they often retain 70-80% of their charge capacity which allows them to be reusable for storage needs like projects supporting clean and renewable power.
MYTH 5: PEVs are impractical because there is nowhere to charge when I’m on the road.
FACT: For most drivers, the average daily commute is 40 miles. For those drivers an overnight charge at home is more than enough. If you have longer trips, there are over 5,000 public charging stations in the U.S. and more are added every day. Visit http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_locations.html or install a smart phone app to locate your nearest charging station. If range is a major issue, then you can supplement your battery power with gasoline power when you need it in a PHEV.
MYTH 6: PEVs are inconvenient because they take too long to charge.
FACT: Most PEV owners charge their vehicles overnight while they are at home. Most owners can get a sufficient charge with a standard household outlet. There are 3 levels of chargers depending on your needs.
- Level-1 – 120-volt, charge provides an average of 2 to 5 miles of range per hour.
- Level-2 – 240-volt, charge can provide 10 to 20 or more miles of range per hour.
- Level 3 (480-volt, DC fast charger) – charge to full capacity in less than one hour.
1 DOE. Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. “Federal Tax Credits for Electric Vehicles Purchased in or after 2010. “http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml
3 GE Capital data and PRTM estimates. Cited in figure 3M, “% Improvement over ICE Maintenance and Repair Costs,” p. 104. “Fleet Electrification Roadmap,” Electrification Coalition, November 2010.
4 Department of Energy (DOE). Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Plug-in Electric Vehicle Handbook for Consumers.” September 2011.
5 Chameides, Planet Green, Dave. “12 Myths About Electric Vehicles” 06 December 2011. HowStuffWorks.com. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/myths-electric-cars-vehicles.html. 07 December 2012
6 DOE. “Plug-In-Electric Vehicle Handbook for Consumers.”