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USA: Myths And Facts About Electric Cars

As automakers are starting to bring electric vehicle (EV) technology into the mainstream, conservative media outlets have repeatedly misled consumers about electric cars by trying to paint them as environmentally harmful and unsafe, among other false claims.


Denying That EVs Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Downplaying EV Sales

Misleading About EV Distance Range

Distorting Volt Safety

Feigning Concern About Battery Disposal

Spinning Consumer Tax Credits

Fearmongering About The Electric Grid

Overstating Subsidies For Volt

Conservative Media Pummel Emerging Industry With Misleading Claims

MYTH: Electric Cars Do Not Reduce CO2 Emissions
•Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld said that “the entire reason for doing these stupid little cars is a lie” because electricity “comes from coal. In some cases, some studies show that these can produce more pollution than internal combustion engines.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/27/12, via Nexis]
•Jonah Goldberg wrote in a Chicago Tribune op-ed: “The point is to reduce CO2 emissions, right? But in some regions, we get our electricity from CO2-spewing coal. The more electricity pulled from the grid, the more coal is burned, essentially replacing dirty oil with dirtier coal.” [Chicago Tribune, 8/10/10]
•A Washington Times editorial said that when a person uses an electric car, “instead of coming out the tailpipe, the unwanted carbon-dioxide molecules are instead released at the power plant, which is generally coal-fired well outside their view.” [Washington Times, 1/17/12]

FACT: Electric Vehicles Cause Substantially Fewer CO2 Emissions

Electric Vehicles Emit Less CO2 Even If Coal Supplies The Power. This chart from the Department of Energy shows that, even though coal is the source of nearly half the nation’s electricity, all-electric vehicles (EV) like the Nissan Leaf, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) like the Chevy Volt cause on average substantially less carbon dioxide emissions than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles:

In states like Indiana that are heavily reliant on coal-fired power, hybrid cars cause fewer emissions than plug-in EVs, but EVs still cause fewer emissions than conventional gasoline powered cars. In areas where electric car sales are high, EVs are significantly more environmentally friendly than the national average. For example, the Los Angeles area is projected by Pike Research to have the second highest electric car sales in the nation over the next 5 years, and carbon emissions for all-electric cars there are nearly half that of the national average:
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