What are some facts and myths about Electric Vehicles? (Part 2)

In this issue of sustainability tips, I would like to touch upon some additional “facts” and “myths” regarding Electric Vehicles.  These consideration are continued from last month’s blog.


  1. Cold temperatures may make it difficult to charge an EV’s battery, making EVs undependable in the winter.


That depends. A lot depends on if the battery is preconditioned. Owners have the option of doing this on many EVs during cold weather—some simply by leaving the vehicle plugged in and others by turning on the heater 20 minutes or so before leaving. (Follow directions in your car’s owner’s manual.) This procedure can make charging much easier and driving more efficient.


  1. Replacement EV batteries are expensive.


Fact. Although battery costs have come down significantly in recent years, depending on the vehicle and the battery, a replacement battery pack costs between $4,500 and $20,000, according to most sources. Fortunately, many EVs come with extended battery warranties, often for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

In addition, it is sometimes possible to repair an older failed battery pack by replacing just the defective cells. While this measure can save money, it is still costly because the process is labor intensive. Finally, lower-cost used or recycled batteries may be available for some EVs with battery problems.

  1. In the long run, an EV will save drivers money.


Fact.  Most studies, including those for Consumer Reports, confirm that buying an EV can produce long-term savings.

A AAA study concluded that the electricity required to drive 15,000 miles per year in a compact EV costs an average of $546, while the amount of gas required to drive the same number of miles costs $1,255. A study from the US Department of Energy found that fuel savings could be as much as $14,500 over a 15-year life cycle. The annual maintenance cost for an EV is also notably lower because EVs do not need oil changes, air-filter replacements and some other routine maintenance required by gasoline-powered cars. AAA puts the maintenance costs for an EV at $330 less per year than for a similar gasoline-powered vehicle. Consumer Reports estimates that maintenance costs over the lifetime of an EV will be about half that of gasoline-powered vehicles.

When comparing lifetime costs for gasoline-powered vehicles with those for EVs—including purchase price, fueling costs and maintenance expenses—Consumer Reports concluded that the savings with an EV could range from $6,000 to $10,000. 

Another factor to consider, however, is insurance. Generally, EVs have higher insurance rates than gas-powered vehicles because EVs have higher purchase prices, are more prone to damage in an accident and are more costly to repair.

  1. EVs are more damaging to the environment than gasoline-powered vehicles.


Myth. There is general agreement that manufacturing an EV creates a larger carbon footprint than making a gasoline-powered vehicle. Blame the batteries in an EV. Extracting from the earth the raw materials needed for battery manufacturing, then shipping and refining these materials, and finally manufacturing the batteries, is energy intensive.   

Overcoming this negative is the fact that EVs are much more efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles when driven. Based on a nationwide average of different energy sources in the US, the Department of Energy concluded that powering an EV would create 2,187 pounds of CO2 a year. Gasoline vehicles would average 12,594 pounds of CO2 annually. As a result of this significant annual difference, researchers conclude that over their life cycles, typical EVs produce less than half the greenhouse gases of a typical gasoline-powered car. 


  1. Depleted EV batteries will end up in landfills and create a new environmental hazard.


Myth. Research into repurposing and recycling batteries that are no longer suitable for powering an EV has been going on for years, and there is already a network of companies putting these batteries to use, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The organization also notes that “after 8 to 12 years in a vehicle, the lithium batteries used in EVs are likely to retain more than two-thirds of their usable energy storage. Depending on their condition, used EV batteries could deliver an additional 5–8 years of service in a secondary application,” such as powering forklifts or streetlights. Used for energy storage, they could supply power during outages or feed the grid during periods of high demand.   

After that, there is a strong economic incentive to recycle used EV batteries, which contain lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese. These are all valuable materials, making it financially worth the effort to extract, purify and sell these metals. Doing so lessens the possible impact on landfills and reduces the need for mining new raw materials for battery production.


Enjoy your fall and until next time – stay environmentally savvy!