As part of a cunning press release yesterday, CEO Richard Canny, of Norweigen electric car maker “Think” decided to set the record straight on a well-publicised electric car myths. While some of his answers are clearly biased towards his own vehicles, his results apply to all electric transportation when compared to internal combustion engined transport. It’s an interesting read nonetheless.
1: Aren’t you are just moving the pollution from tailpipes to smokestacks?
Busted: Electric vehicle motors are three-to-five times more efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles. While it’s best to power EVs from renewable energy sources, the efficiency of EVs makes them cleaner, producing less carbon – even when they are charged using coal-fired electricity.
2: Customers won’t buy cars with less than 200 miles range.
Busted: So-called ‘range anxiety’ diminishes when people get used to driving EVs on a daily basis. It’s just like charging a cell phone overnight. You plug it in, and in the morning it’s ready to go, fully charged. And THINK recently announced a new standard for fast charging – zero to 80% charged in just 15 minutes – to help cover those rare situations when an EV will be needed for more than 100 miles in a single day.
3: The batteries won’t last.
Busted: EV batteries are designed to last at least 10 years and more than 100,000 miles. THINK has cars on the road in Europe with batteries approaching the 10-year mark and brings that experience to modern Lithium batteries to ensure they meet that target.
4: You’ll need to build a lot more power plants.
Busted: There’s enough off-peak electricity in the U.S. to power 79% of U.S. driving demand using electricity alone. As more EVs are deployed, it’s important to ensure that the smart-charging (time-based charging management) and vehicle-to-grid connectivity progresses as well. A connected network of millions of micro energy storage devices – which EVs would become – provides significant opportunities to improve the stability and performance of electric grids and better balance peak demand.
5: We’re going to run out of Lithium – and isn’t it poisonous?
Busted: Lithium carbonate today comes from dried salt lakes in South America and China. Lithium can even be extracted from salt water and projects are under way to do this. The industry will not have a shortage of lithium for the next decade. It is also possible that new battery technologies will be based on other light metals like Zinc or Nickel. Lithium from used batteries will be recycled in dedicated recycling plants. Lithium batteries contain no poisonous heavy metals like lead in lead-acid batteries or cadmium in NiCd batteries.
6: The infrastructure has to come first.
Busted: In our experience working with more than 20 cities across Europe, the best way to deploy EVs is to get cars on the road first, then add infrastructure. If there are no EVs to use those plugs and parking spots, people see it as wasteful. We think infrastructure is a small part of good policy at a federal, regional and local level to support EV early adopters.
7: They’re unsafe
Busted: Highway-certified EVs like the THINK City meet all the same safety and crash test requirements as regular production cars with some important extras. For example, new European Union regulations require EVs to conform to the European CE electrical standards. THINK City is the first to meet those requirements.
8: The technology is too complicated.
Busted: A modern electric car has only about five main moving parts compared with hundreds in an internal combustion engine. There are no regular visits to the dealership for an EV. No oil changes, no filters – even brake pads last two-to-three times longer than in conventional cars, because EVs like the THINK City use regenerative braking to recapture the energy that would otherwise be lost while braking. Your first trip to the dealership with an EV for scheduled maintenance is at 40,000 miles to check the brake pads. Eventually, you’ll need new wiper blades and tires. But that’s about it!
9: Fast charging EV batteries will wear them out quickly.
Busted: Modern prismatic lithium batteries can be developed with fast-charging in mind – like THINK’s EnerDel battery solution. The critical technology is in the cell design to manage battery temperature during charging. Limiting fast charging to the 0-80% range also protects battery life. THINK’s view is that 95% or more of all EV miles will be driven on EVs charged during overnight off-peak periods when electricity is cheaper and readily available. Fast charging locations provide reassurance and peace of mind for those occasional days where more than 100 miles are required.
10: Plug in hybrids are the best solution.
Busted: Carrying around the extra weight and cost of two powertrains makes little sense. In some ways, a ‘hybrid garage’ (where one car is an EV and the other a relatively fuel-efficient ‘normal car’) is probably most economical for a typical family. As plug-in hybrids get bigger and heavier, they need more batteries and stronger gas- or diesel-powered generators or engines. It becomes a ‘vicious circle’ of more cost and more weight to achieve acceptable range and performance in both modes.
So there you have it. While his list is missing my personal favourite; how much cheaper electric cars are per mile, you get the general idea. Add this to your EVmunition for the next time you’re being quizzed by those still unsure about electric vehicles.