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While electric cars are not the most efficient way to get from here to there, the environmental groups note that they’re still far cleaner and greener than combustion-powered automobiles. Here’s an abbreviated version of the Sierra Club’s fact sheet on electric vehicles (EVs).

Switching to an electric vehicle will just mean that the same amount of pollution comes from the electricity generation rather than from the tailpipe — I’ll just be switching from oil to coal.
According to a range of studies, an electric car leads to 35 to 60% less carbon dioxide pollution from electricity than the CO2 pollution from the oil of a conventional car with an internal combustion engine. In some areas, like many on the West Coast that rely largely on wind or hydro power, the emissions are significantly lower for EVs.

Plug-in cars will lead to the production of more coal and nuclear plants.
Even if the majority of drivers switched to electric, the existing electrical grid’s off-peak/nighttime capacity for power generation is sufficient without building a single new power plant.

Electric car batteries pose a recycling problem.
Internal combustion engine vehicles use lead-acid batteries, and their recycle rate is about 98% in the U.S. The newer batteries for electric vehicles, such as those made of lithium-ion, include even more valuable and recyclable metals and will have a life well beyond the vehicle.

My electricity bill will go way up.
While you’ll spend more on electricity, the savings on gas will more than cover it. If you drive a pure battery electric vehicle 12,000 miles a year at current electricity rates (assuming $.12 per kilowatt hour, although rates vary throughout the country), you’ll pay about $389 per year for the electricity to charge your battery, but you’ll save about $1200 in gas (assuming $3 per gallon, a 30 miles per gallon vehicle, and 12,000 miles driven).

Electric vehicles will just fail again like they did before.
Manufacturers are serious this time–rolling out more than a dozen new plug-in models in the next couple of years, starting now. With higher gas prices and climate change worrying many consumers, stricter fuel economy standards for new vehicles required of auto manufacturers, and billions of public and corporate dollars being spent on an EV infrastructure and research in the U.S., EVs are here to stay.

My battery will run out of juice.
REALITY: The majority of drivers in the U.S. drive less than 35 miles each day, sufficient for a fully charged pure electric vehicle (most can go 80 to 140 miles on one charge), and an extended range electric vehicle (that drives about 35 miles on electric and then the gasoline power kicks in).

Electric vehicles are much more expensive than traditional vehicles.
While the initial sticker price of EVs is higher than traditional vehicles, you need to do the math to account for a variety of factors. For individual consumers, there is currently a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, as well as a partial federal credit for the charging unit. Several states have additional tax credits on top of the federal ones. Additionally, the average EV driver will save more than $800 a year in fuel, and about 46% in annual maintenance costs, according to one federal government study.

Electric vehicles are only available in California.
While EVs are not yet available for purchase in every state, they are quickly becoming available in many.

Charging an EV on solar power is a futuristic dream.
The technology to power your EV with solar power is already available. According to Plug-In America, EVs typically travel three to four miles (or more) per kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity. If you drive 12,000 miles per year, you will need 3,000-4,000 kWh. Depending on where you live, you will need a 1.5kW-3kW photovoltaic (PV) system to generate that much power using about 150-300 square feet of space on your roof.

Source: Sierra Club,


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