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Publication Title | Clearing the Smoke Electric Vehicle Myths

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Clearing the Smoke

Clearing the Smoke

Electric Vehicle Myths

Electric Vehicle Myths

Shari Prange ©2001 Shari Prange

The relative handful of electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads today are surrounded by a cloud of

smog produced by the vast majority of cars, which still burn petroleum products for fuel. But the EVs are obscured by another kind of cloud as well. It is a cloud of myths and misinformation that permeates the public consciousness.

Some of this has been deliberately spread by, shall we say, dark anti-EV forces. But most of it is simply the result of honest but faulty assumptions. Some of the misconceptions make EVs look bad, and some make them look too good. Let’s examine the most common myths and misconceptions about EVs, and compare them to the real facts.

Myth #1: An EV’s Range is Too Short

When asked how long a man’s legs should be, Abraham Lincoln replied, “Long enough to reach the ground.” How long is a long enough range for an EV? That depends on what you need to do with it.

Ninety percent of the cars in the United States travel fewer than 25 miles (40 km) a day. A typical home-built electric conversion can get 50 miles (80 km) or more on a charge. Some can get quite a bit more. Even a very

modest, low-performance conversion will get 20 to 25 miles (32 to 40 km).

Range is a function of vehicle weight and aerodynamics, battery pack size, road conditions and terrain, traffic flow, and driving style. You need to examine your real-life driving patterns, and then see whether one type of EV or another has long enough “legs” to do the job for you.

“Well, sure, most of the time I just drive to work and back. But what about when I want to go on vacation?” Again, statistics show that most households have more than one vehicle. Does yours? Many people have a small economical car for daily local use, and a bigger vehicle for long trips. The small one could be electric.

An electric car is like a microwave oven. It can’t replace all the functions of a conventional oven. But there are some things that it does much better than the traditional oven, and it does some things the old oven can’t do at all. Despite its “limitations,” most households have one, and use it a lot.

Myth #2: EVs Are Slow

When people think of EVs, they think of golf carts, or some tiny, funny-looking little thing that their eccentric old neighbor drove in the 1970s. They think 25 or 35 mph (40 or 55 kph) is the best it can do.

This is absolutely not true. Even a very basic conversion can do 55 to 65 mph (88 to 104 kph), and some can do more than 90 mph (145 kph). These are normal street cars, not tricked-out race cars. Like

98 Home Power #84 • August / September 2001

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