AutoMobility LA and the LA Auto Show bust common Electric Vehicle myths. However, the biggest myth surrounding EVs isn’t range anymore — it’s inadequate infrastructure.
People doubt whether the existing power grid can handle the demand if everyone goes out and buys an EV. They think we’ll need to add a bunch of coal-burning power plants to power all those nice green EVs, decimating any potential benefit. However, this isn’t at all true.
Firstly, many parts of the world use clean hydroelectric energy which makes this argument moot. The U.S. Department of Energy has a convenient calculator that tells you the emission benefits of an EV based on power generation in your area. It turns out that no matter where you are, the carbon emission over the entire lifecycle of an EV from cradle to grave is less than a gas-burning car. That means an EV’s contribution to pollution and greenhouse gases is smaller than a gasoline vehicle even when the power supplying the EV comes from coal.
Secondly, consumers suddenly embracing EVs won’t take down the grid. EV charging usually happens at work during the workday or at home overnight, and thus can be spread out over many hours. Most EV charging is during off-peak times where the grid demand is lower. In fact, millions of EVs can be added to the grid without any additional power plant capacity. Millions of EVs attached to the grid will actually help buffer it from high-demand blackouts, helping to sustain our existing power grid.
On the other side of the inadequate infrastructure myth is the belief that the infrastructure doesn’t exist and EVs can’t be an acceptable alternative until charging stations are as common as gas stations. Because almost all the drives we take are short (the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates Americans travel 40 miles per day), EVs will mostly charge at home or work. That means we’ll be able to use EVs for the vast majority of our travel without even considering charging infrastructure. Incidentally, that charging infrastructure amounts to 60,000 stations across the United States and Canada and continues to grow daily.
Although there will always be remote routes that may require advanced planning to refuel, most of our vacations, road trips, and visits to grandma can be managed by a concentration of charging stations at expressway hot spots.