What Are Some Facts and Myths About Electric Vehicles?

Steve’s Sustainability Tips – August 2023

In this issue of sustainability tips, I would like to touch upon some “facts” and “myths” regarding Electric Vehicles.  In upcoming blogs, I will continue the discussion.

Best and worst parts of EV ownership in 2023 | Mashable

Electric vehicles (EVs) represented 7.2 percent of all new vehicle sales in the US in the first quarter of 2023, and their numbers are growing, according to Kelley Blue Book. Two years ago, just 3.2 percent of new cars sold were EVs. The environmental advantages of EVs are prompting governments all over the world to mandate an end to new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and light trucks.

Still, EVs are clearly not yet suitable for everyone. While they save money on fuel and maintenance over their lifespan, their initial purchase price is generally higher than comparable gasoline-powered models, their range limitations—though improving—may frustrate some drivers, and the still-developing infrastructure to charge them remains an issue, especially for apartment dwellers who may have difficulty in charging their vehicles at home.

  1. Fact:  Extracting needed minerals for batteries and constructing the batteries for EVs comes at a cost to the environment.


It is true that mining for the heavy metals needed for batteries has environmental costs. There are procedures that can reduce this impact on the environment, but not all countries have regulations in place to do this. Despite these upfront impacts, EVs are a net positive environmentally after being driven 30,000 miles, according to a study for the European Union conducted by Ricardo Strategic Consulting.


  1. Fact:  EVs do not have zero emissions.


Unless an EV is powered by electricity generated by a renewable source, there is pollution involved in driving an EV. If the EV’s electricity comes from a gas-fired power plant, driving an EV produces less pollution than driving a gasoline-powered vehicle, according to most studies. If the electricity comes from a coal-fired power plant, however, the environmental impact could well be greater when driving an EV. Nuclear power plants have no CO2 emissions, making this power source cleaner than gas or coal, but there is the issue of the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and risks associated with plant mishaps. Remember the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Londonderry Township, Pennsylvania.  

Notably, though, EVs have zero tailpipe emissions, which according to multiple studies, have been tied to adverse effects on health outcomes. Nationally, it is estimated that nearly 20,000 people died prematurely in 2017 from breathing emissions produced by vehicles with an internal combustion engine, according to a 2021 study by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

So, you want to buy an electric car - The Boston Globe

3. Myth: The only thing supporting EV sales are federal tax credits.


Tax credits have undoubtedly played a part in the growth of EV sales, but in recent years, during which EV sales have grown dramatically, no federal tax credits were offered to more than half of the buyers. That’s because two EV automakers, Tesla and General Motors, had exhausted their tax credit eligibility, which expired after each sold 200,000 EVs. 

New legislation, including the elimination of the 200,000 cap, has changed the tax credits available on EVs, and credits may vary by state and other factors. Individuals should consult a tax advisor to learn their options.


  1. Fact:  EVs lose range in the cold.


When it comes to temperatures, EV batteries are a lot like us: They are happiest around 70 to 80 degrees. When it is colder or hotter, but primarily when it is colder, range declines. Running the heater worsens this problem. AAA testing shows that heater use when outside temperatures dip to 20 degrees can reduce range by about 40 percent.


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