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The 5 biggest electric car myths

As with any new emerging technology, there are many misconceptions about electric cars. Today we focus on the 5 most common myths regarding plug in electric cars.

Myth #1 - The electrical grid will be overloaded if everyone tries to charge their plug in cars.

This concern often arises as people think of blackouts caused by overloaded power grids in summer months. How can there be enough capacity to take on even more power usage? First of all, those blackouts are usually cause during heat waves when everyone is running enormously power hungry air conditioners all at the same time. Plug in cars on the other hand, pull a small trickle charge similar to your home’s refrigerator, and that charge is usually spread over an 8 hour period. Secondly the charging is mostly done at night, during off peak hours when the electrical grid is operating at a fraction of its capacity.

In fact a report by the Department of Energy concluded that if all the nations cars and trucks suddenly switched from oil to electrics, the idle capacity of the electric grid could generate most of the energy needed by the electrics. That is assuming a total immediate switchover, while such a transition would take decades in reality. Further studies by Oak Ridge National labs confirm that off peak charging could handle the extra load of plug in electrics with no additional power plants required.

Myth #2 - The power must come from somewhere, you are just exchanging a polluting car for a polluting power plant.

Simple mathematics show that it is much more efficient to generate power in a central location rather than having the pollutants dispersed by millions of cars. Even if the power used by an electric car comes 100% directly from a coal burning power plant, the net emissions are dramatically lower. A study by the Los Angeles dept of Water and Power concluded that over a 100,000 mile life cycle, a normal gas powered car would produce 3,000 pounds of pollutants, while a electric powered car from today’s power plants would produce just under 100. These numbers are from coal burning power plants. Power plants running on natural gas, solar, wind or nuclear vastly improve the net pollution output even more. For example a single large wind turbine can produce enough energy to power 3,000 electric cars.

Myth #3 - They are too slow to be on the roads

This one probably arises from most people’s only experience with electric powered vehicles - the golf cart. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Electric vehicles can be fast! The linear power delivery characteristics of electric vehicles can make them extremely quick. Torque is instantly available at all RPM ranges, without the usual lag we are used to with combustion engines. Videos like this of the Wrightspeed X-1 electric beating Ferrari and Porsche supercars should convince reassure people of electric’s power potential. Of course there is always the currently produced Tesla roadster, with its 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds.

Myth #4 - Batteries are environmentally disasterous

It’s true that older nickel-metal hydrid batteries have some toxic components. But if properly disoposed, recycling programs can break down almost every component of the battery for reuse. Current lithium ion batteries are getting cleaner all the time. Case in point - the lithium ion battery used in the electric motorcycle in production by Zero Motorcycles is sodium based and completely free of toxic metals. It can be completely recycled and is even rated for direct landfill disposal.

Myth #5 - Aren’t electric cars dangerous, will I get shocked?

This one is more urban legend than anything. Not one case of shocking by electric or hybrid car has ever occurred. Hybrid and electric cars have many redundant systems in place to cut power and break the circuit in the event of collisions, short circuits or power surges. Even completely submerging a electric car in water would do nothing more than cut the power from the batteries. In fact electric cars are much safer overall that internal combustion engines. Not surprising when you compare a closed cell battery system to rolling down the road with a large tank of highly flammable and combustible liquid and an engine that runs by sparking that liquid! Injury and deaths from fire and explosions are projected to dramatically decrease with an electric car fleet on the road.


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Posted in Electric, General on 10-09-08
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3 Comments »

Comment by JimC
2008-10-09 11:01:45

You forgot the one about needing a long extension cord to drive with :):)

 
Comment by speedymillionaire
2008-10-09 19:27:11

0-60 time of 3.9 seconds thats really fast

 
Comment by Daniel
2008-10-10 11:50:00

Myth #2 is always controvertial from what I have seen on discussions about electric cars. Its hard for people to conceptualize how getting power from a dirty power plant is still cleaner than the drill, ship, refine, pump, and burn cycle of gas. But I agree with your finding and study after study has proven this.

 
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