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Earth Day Provides Opportunity for Teaching about Electric Cars

It’s Earth Day season, and it means electric vehicle owners have plenty of opportunities to appear at Earth Day events, show off our cars, and talk with people about them.

How far, how fast, and how long? Those are the most common typical questions EV owners receive. The answer varies from car to car and depends on the manufacturers design goals. In some cases, EVs are targeted at low cost—often at the cost of short EV driving range. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV (60-70 miles) and the Toyota Prius Plug-in (12 miles) are prime examples. In other cases, carmakers take a “no compromises” approach, such as with the Tesla Model S and its 265 miles of range. In most cases, it’s a balance between acceptable range and relatively low cost in vehicles like the Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, or Honda Fit EV.

That’s too short a range, why can’t there be a 300 mile EV that charges in 10 minutes? It doesn’t matter that government figures show that the typical person in the U.S. drives fewer than 40 miles a day. It doesn’t matter that all the electric cars on the market can do this. We aren’t logical animals. The uninitiated believe all cars must replicate the 300-plus mile range and 10 minute refueling times of gasoline cars. EV owners can explain the difference between perceived needs and real needs. In reality, the 70 to 80 mile range of an electric car is enough for all but the longest road trips.

At the same time, battery researchers around the world are racing towards battery technology breakthroughs, so it’s only a matter of time before battery range goes up and costs come down
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