Debunking Common EV Myths

Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way from the 2011 Nissan Leaf. In this article, I will discuss — and in some cases, debunk — 10 common myths about EVs, using what I’ve learned over the last 24 years of owning, driving, fixing, teaching and writing about them.

You can use these as talking points when customers express their concerns about EVs. Myths are listed in descending order:

Myth 10. You will lose 50% of your range in cold weather

This is slightly true. A modern EV has a heat pump for heating and air conditioning. At zero-degrees, you will lose 25%. But at 40 degrees, you will only lose about 10%.

Myth 9. If you get stuck is a blizzard, you will freeze to death.

False. Most EVs are charged overnight, so you leave every morning with a “full tank” of electrons. EVs are very efficient and when you are stopped, the cabin can be heated for more hours than a gas car with a full tank. Plus, we all own cell phones for emergencies.

Myth 8. You will have to wait for hours on a road trip to charge your EV.

This is false. If you use a DC fast charger rated at 150 kW or higher, most EVs will do OK. A Tesla can add 100 miles of range every 10 minutes. Some 800-volt systems are even faster.

Myth 7. There are not enough fast chargers.

This is mostly true. Tesla is the leader here, but that is changing as you read this. Tesla is opening up their “super chargers” to other OEMs.

Myth 6. High-voltage packs only last 5 years or 100,000 miles.

False. The Nissan Leaf gave EVs a bad reputation because its pack lacked a cooling system and lost range quickly. The truth is that 200,000 miles or 15 years is normal on newer electric vehicles.

Myth 5. New EVs lose their value quickly.

This was mostly false. Now it is mostly true. Tesla sales slowed a year ago and a price war had been going on since then. This lowered the value of all used EVs.

Myth 4. EVs will catch fire and explode by themselves.

This is almost entirely false. Some recalls on a few EV models have fixed this issue. The few fires on those models that made the headlines have been repaired.

Myth 3. EVs are unsafe in an accident.

False. Side impact protection on EVs has improved as the large battery pack is a frame member. And there is no gasoline to ignite.

Myth 2. EVs are too expensive to buy new.

This is false. All internal combustion engine (ICE) or electric cars and trucks are expensive today. Base models still exist. Without any incentives, an EV, such as a Nissan Leaf, can be bought for just over $28,000.

Myth 1. EVs pollute more than gasoline vehicles.

This is false, unless you total your EV before it has 35,000 miles on the odometer. It is true that it takes more energy to build an EV than a gas car. If your mix of electric power generation is 100% fossil fuels, which is very rare, or 100% renewable (hydro, wind and solar), which is also rare, then the distance you will need to drive will vary. Once an EV reaches 35,000 miles, on average, it will use less carbon-based fuels than ICE vehicles of similar size.

Battery myths

My company, Automotive Career Development Center, has a fleet of EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Presently, we have a 2013 Tesla Model S with over 200,000 miles on it. The owner bought it new. The car’s high-voltage battery pack is no longer useful. We are now looking for a good used pack. Prices vary from $7,000 to $12,000. Most likely, this Tesla will get fixed as the rest of it has held up pretty well. And battery prices, in general, will continue to come down.

It’s also important to know that replacing a high-voltage battery pack is much faster than replacing a gas engine or transmission. The drive motors and final drive gear boxes are simple and well-made. In the future, you may even be able to buy the EV and lease the battery pack.

The era of EVs is here. You can believe the myths and negative news and stay away or you can get involved. As with any new technology, EVs will have their problems that engineers will solve and life will continue to move into a new mobility age. Make sure you move with it.

About the Author

Craig Van Batenburg

Craig Van Batenburg is MTD's monthly EV Intelligence columnist and the owner of Van Batenburg's Garage Inc. dba Automotive Career Development Center, which provides training for facilities that service - or want to service - electric and hybrid vehicles. For more information, see or email Craig at [email protected].