EV Misinformation Abounds!
A Battery is not a Tank!


Bob Bruninga, PE
IEEE National Committee on Transportation and Aerospace Policy
Electric Vehicle Association of DC
wb4apr at amsat dot org

See the Powerpoint on EV misconceptions (summarizes this page).

GAS-TANK/GAS-STATION Legacy: Three generations and over a century of gas-tank/gas-station legacy clouds our thinking with respect to transportation. Everything we think about driving is related to the inconvenient weekly stop at the gas pump for commuters or the every 5 hour stop for gas on trips. We naturally translate this inconvient refueling experience to EV's while not realizing that none of it applies when the EV is used for the practical driving application for which it is best suited... commuting and local trips!

GAS STATIONS: Gas cars must be refueled while we are using them and usually while we are in a rush on our way somewhere. This is a huge inconvenience that we have all grown so accustomed to that we ignore the inconvenience (except when we are late) while still letting it cloud our thinking about driving. As shown here in a plot of where the cars are during the week, we are constrained to go somewhere to fill-up during the 1 hour or 4% of the day when we are actually using the car to get somewhere else!

PLUGGING IN: EV's, on the other hand, are always charged while we are not using them, while parked. And the average car spends more than 21 hours a day parked and most of that time is either at home or at work. As a result the EV is always fully fueled every time we use it (even if it was your teenager that drove it last) and the impact of fueling is only about 10 seconds a day, 5 seconds to unplug when we leave, and 5 seconds to plugin when we park.

EV Misinformation! There is a huge amount of EV Misinformation out there... Some of it intentional, but most of it simply due to gas-tank/gas-station legacy thinking. Here is a list of all the negative comments that roll off the tongue by the nay-sayers determined to resist change at all costs. Each of these fabrications are simply wrong and will be addressed on this page:

  • EV's are not popular, only 5% will buy'em. . . No! . . (So? Only 4% buy the #1 selling car in the USA!)
  • EV's cost too much! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No! . . (Average cost is less than average gas car in 2013!)
  • Breakeven or Payback takes 8 years . . . . . . . No! . . (Is from day 1 if compared to gas car pollution cost)
  • EV Battery capacity is too small . . . . . . . . . . . No! . . (Smart EV buyers buy smallest to meet their need!)
  • EV Range is too short. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No! . . (Only needs to cover daily use!)
  • Not enough public Charging Stations . . . . . . . No! . . (over 300 million outlets at home/work everywhere!)
  • Charging Stations are too expensive. . . . . . . . No! . . ($15 from Home Depot for 120v charging outlet)
  • I Can't plugin at work - no way to pay . . . . . . No! . . (Charging at work is #1 priority. Buy monthly pass)
  • EV's have a big impact on the grid . . . . . . . . . No! . . (No more than a toaster!)
  • EV's still pollute at the coal power plant. . . . . No! . . (only 7%, and getting cleaner every day)

    Each of these misinformations will be addressed in the paragraphs below.

  • EV's are not popular, only 4% will buy them: Wrong conclusion. If 4% bought electric cars, then that would make them the number one selling cars in America! As shown here, the #1 selling vehicle is the Ford F150 pickup truck(19 MPG). But still that is less than 4% of all vehicles sold. The next two most popular models sell to less than 2% of Americans. There are over 400 makes and models of gas cars on the market to satisfy the variety of driver needs and wants. If 4% of Americans bought an EV, that would make them the number 1 selling vehicle in America! Of course, we have gone from one model EV available in 2010 to now over 15 models available in 2013. This is the largest growth segment in the auto industry today. And when people realize the freedom from oil, gas stations, pumping gas in the cold, and our $1 billion per day overseas addiction, this percent will only rise!

  • EV's cost too much: Baseless! More than half the cars sold cost too much! Yes, the introductory price of EV's in 2012 was more than the average gas car, but already in 2013, this is no longer true. The averge American gas car sold in 2013 cost over $31,000. On the other hand the average cost of the EV has fallen to $29,000!. Remember, mass production of EV's is really only a year or so old, and already in 2013, both the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi iMiEV and the Chevy Volt price dropped by $5k to an average net price below $29,000, even below the average cost of all gas vehicles sold!

    Heck, this is even $10k Cheaper than the average $39,000 average price of the #1 selling vehicle in America, the F150 Pickup. Further with the new models introduced in 2014, an EV can be had for well under $20,000 including the Federal $7.5k incentive.

  • EV Payback or Breakeven is 8 years: No, see the true comparison. Payback is from day one if you make a real apples/apples comparison. What everyone leaves out of these kinds of simple-minded comparisons is the cost of the mitigation needed to clean up the emissions of the gas car that the EV does not have. It typically takes 100 fully mature trees to absorb the annual emissions from a gas car. If the gas car had to pay for this cleanup to be cost-equal to the EV, then the true cost of the EV would be more than a third less than the cost of the gas car from day one. We buy cars for now and the future, and the future is NOW!

    EV Fuel is CHEAP! At normal electric rates, an EV drives for a cost equivalent to about $1 per gallon gas. But when recharged at night off-peak where electricity is only 3.5 cents per kWh, the EV drives at an equivalent energy cost of about 35 cents a gallon! That is cutting the cost of commuting by a factor of TEN-to-ONE compared to gas.

  • EV Battery capacity is too small: Nnot really. This is a big misunderstanding. People think they want the largest battery possible when in fact, the smart EV purchaser buys no more battery capacity than he uses on a daily basis. Why spend an extra $45,000 for a 250 mile battery (Tesla) when you only drive 40 miles a day and leave the house every morning with a full charge and more than enough for your daily use. If you need to drive 200 miles in a single day, then you should not be buying an EV but should buy a plugin hybrid or Tesla or use your other car whichever you can afford.

    Rent: For the extra $45K of the extra 250 mile Tesla battery, you could rent a gas car for trips every weekend for 10 years including Gas!

  • EV Range is too small: Not for the EV purchaser. If range is a concern, then he/she doesn't understand the EV and may be buying the wrong car for their need. As noted above, there are over 400 makes and models of cars on the market. And the ideal application of an EV is for daily commuting and local travel. The chart here shows that 68% of all commuters drive less than 15 miles to work and fully 78% could commute almost 20 miles each way on a 40 mile battery. If one only has one car and commuting is not their application, then probably an EV is not for them and a gas car or plug-in hybrid would be a better investment. EV's are not for everyone or every application! People should buy the car that does their need best. And an EV does commuting better than a gas car at 1/4th to 1/10th the cost and the added convenience of being independent of the gas pump and expensive maintenance. Just plug in while parked and the car is always ready for every trip. Range anxiety vanishes then, as an issue to the smart shopper that needs a commuter car.

  • There aren't enough public Charging Stations: So??? Anyone that buys an EV with the intention of refueling at public charging stations does not understand the EV. Charging is done everyday (while parked, usually at home and/or at work). See the top chart and previous topics! It is nice to have some public charging as a backup for emergent situations out of the routine as shown here in the Charging Pyramid. But in all cases except for the extremely tiny tip of the iceberg, EV's are charged while parked. EV's spend most of their time parked at Home and at Work where there is plenty of time to charge. For people in these two locations they can maintain over 100 miles a day of charge by simply plugging into a standard 120v outlet, the bulk of the charging pyramid.

    Interstate Charging: An insiginficant niche. It is amazing that people remain so focused on fast public charging along the interstates (gas tank legacy) when the State of Maryland studies have shown that this is only 0.3% of the need, because EV's are not designed for long distance interstate travel! Their best application is commuting and local travel and you would no more buy an EV for how it travels on the interstate as you would buy a boat based on its trailer. [With the exception of the Tesla which is not your common EV application and not affordable to most].

    Charging at Work: The Maryland EV Infrastructure Council has determined that over 97% of all EV charging at work can be met with simple 120v outlets. This is because at-work is where most EV's spend most of their time away from home. As shown here 70% of EV commuters can be fully charged by noon if simply plugged into a standard outlet at work. The 70 mile daily commuter can be fully charged after a full day at work (35 miles in, and 35 miles home). It is unsustainalbe to think that Employers are going to provide expensive $10,000 special EV chargers for employees when a simple $15 outlet (120V) will do.

  • Charging Stations are too expensive: No, Most of them you don't need! Over 97% of all EV charging for the daily commuter can be met with the simple 120v outlet. Any outlet will do. But even a special lighted EV 120v outlet only costs $29 from Home Depot. Remember, our American Economy is 60% based on selling us more goods and services, most of which we can do just fine without. Expensive EV charging stations are a perfect example when a simple 120v existing outlet can do the same job. Chargers are often sold through the range anxiety fear factor to prospective EV owners who have still not relinquished the gas-tank/gas-station legacy. Most people have to sleep 8 hours or so, and so why would you need to fast charge your car while sleeping? The $29 EV outlet is readilly availble on line from from Home Depot.

    L2 Charging: Of course, if your commute is more than 35 miles each way, and you cannot plug-in while at work, sure, you need a 100 mile range EV and you need at least a $900 Level-2 charger (240V) to be able to fully replenish 100 miles in a single overnight charge, but these long ranging commuters are the small 8% exception and they only need the fast charger if they cannot plugin to 120v at work.

  • It takes too long to charge: So, who cares? The car is parked 21 hours a day and there is plenty of time to charge while parked. An 8 hour overnight, or charge-at-work can replenish a 32 mile trip to or from work in under 8 hours. The expensive L2 Quick charger can do it in 2 hours but is not needed by most commuters during the 8 hours of sleep and the 8 hours of work! And no EV driver will routinely use a fast L2 charger at work where she has to play musical-cars in the parking lot all day with other EV drivers.

    Focus on the Benefits: Instead of focusing on how long it takes to fully fill an EV battery from L1 home charging, we should instead simply focus on how many miles-per-charge we get while parked for 8 hours at Home and at work as shown here. Every EV comes with its own 120v charging cord and is well capable of charging anywhere while pariked. Any EV will gain about 36 miles of charge during 8 hours on a standard outlet, and that is enough to give commuter EV's a total daily range of over 70 miles (plugging in at home and work), typical of many EV batteries for example.

    Even Convenience stores are installing 120v charging outlets.

  • I Can't plugin at work - no way to pay: Sure there is. Practical long distance Commuter EV's are going to want to park at an outlet everyday. For employee parking, the authorized EV owner employee simply plugs into any convenient 120 VAC outlet. No special chargers or installation is required. She drives the same distance to work every day, so it is simple to pay for a monthly Charging Pass as shown here to compensate for the daily electricity used. In Maryland where electricity is 14 cents a kWh or so, the monthly cost to charge an EV is about $1 per month per daily incoming commute mile. For example, a 20 mile commuter would pay about $20 a month for the charging privilege and would display the charging placard. This is as easy to enforce as handicapped parking and is nearly impossible to abuse. A car has to be plugged in for at least 5 hours even to consume $1 of daily charge. It is impossible to charge-and run from a 120v outlet.

    EV Charging Outlets Everywhere! Employers, Churches, Schools, Hotels all over Maryland are beginning to recognize the value that each of their existing outdoor outlets have to their employees, members and visitors. And it makes no sense to spend $10,000 on a special charging station when their existing outlets can do. And it makes no sense to spend money on charge-card devicces to collect 20 cents an hour when the value of servicing their visitors is worth so much more. See some of the numerous examples.

  • EV's have a big impact on the grid: Not if you understand the EV charging pardigm and all of the above we have mentioned so far. An EV charging-while-parked on 120v draws no more power than a toaster or coffepot as shown below. It is limited to the same 12 amp draw as any other appliance plugged into a standard outlet. What confuses people are those that refuse to let go of the gas-station/gas-tank legacy and want to charge as fast as possible. In that case, sure, there is a huge impact on the grid! In fact, a Tesla charging in 20 minutes can draw as much power as 24 standard homes as shown below. This is a huge, umbelivable impact. But completely unnecessary to the commuter and local traveler who simply plugsin while parked.

    <== 120v | SuperCharger ==>

  • Teslas are too expensive: So are a Maseratti and a RollsRoyce. The Tesla is an extreme exception to the value of an Electric Car. It is the only EV car attempting to replace the full flexibility and out-perform the highly versatile gas tank car. But it does so at a rediculous cost. In attempting to meet gas-tank expectations, it attempts rapid charging at great impact as noted above. But still it is a fantastic car and an excellent example of where the EV car will eventually arrive.

  • EV's are not clean but only move emissions to the power plant: A huge exaggeration! Yes, but only 7% of the emissions compared to a gas car! As shown here, about 50% of all EV buyers also buy solar or subscribe to Wind energy from their utility. This should not be surprising because these buyers are both early adopters of clean transportation and also invest in CLEAN energy.

  • EV's depend on Coal: No. Most don't. In addition to the fact that more than 50% of EV owners use only 100% clean energy (solar and wind), it is also true that the EV only consumes about one third of the energy as the gas car, and finally, coal is only about half of our electric supply... and only getting smaller every day. The net result then is only about 7% of the emissions of a gas car and this number is only going down. Just dont forget, HALF of those EV drivers are actually running on 100% solar or wind by choice. They want to be part of the solution for our future instead of continuing to be part of the problem.

    MORE ABOUT CHARGING AT WORK:

    Another frustrating topic is the focus on METERING the electricity used by EV's charging at work. As noted in the image shown here, the daily costs to charge at work for the typical 20 mile commuter is about $1 a day ($2/day for a full 40 mile charge for say a VOLT). Therefore, it makes NO SENSE AT ALL to add thousands of $$$ dollars to the cost of the charging equipment to have internet access, credit card readers and very expensive charges for accounting and billing only to collect a single $1 per day. Yet the charger manufacturers are out there SELLING expensive L2 chargers for use at work so that "the electricity can be metered".

    This shows the lack of understanding about EV's. The daily cost to charge is well known for any given employee! An EV driven to work WAS PURCHASED JUST FOR THAT PURPOSE! It will therefore be driven EVERY day to work and will be CHARGED EVERYDAY, and the kWh to charge and the cost of that charge WILL BE THE SAME every day since the miles-to-work are the same everyday. Since both the employee and the employer both know where your home-of-record is located, then the cost for daily charging IS WELL KNOWN and the SAME every month. Just buy a charging-pass costing the price of 21 days a month and be done with it!

    It makes as much business sense to install expensive L2 charging stations at-work as it does to install $3000 candy machines to sell 1 or 2 candy bars a day.

    ...

    ADDITIONAL LINKS AND RESOURCES:

    Projected Charger Need in Maryland: The graph shown here was published in the Maryland Governor's EV Infrastructure Council (EVIC) in their final report showing the anticipated need for charging capability away-from-home throughout the state. Notice that the need for Fast Interstate charging is vanishinglly small (only about 0.3%) even though it seems to get most of the public's attention (who are still stuck in the gas-tank/gas-station legacy). Yes, there is a need for convenient public charging at retail locations where cars may stop for an hour or so, but the vast majority of charging away-from-home can be easily done at work, and 97% of that need can be satisfied by L1 charging outlets (120v). It is unsustainable to think these 50,000 charging options by 2021 are going to be anything other than a convenient $29 outlet (120v) to plug into while parked.

    See the DOE's Workplace Charging Challenge
    Notice the DOE Does Allow EV Charging in their facilities. See details.
    See why the GAO prohibition on EV charging in the Capitol Area does not apply

    See NPR interview by Jessica Gould or hear it (2 mins).
    See EV speech at Driving Maryland Green 11 Oct 2012

    Download IEEE Paper on L1 Charging. Provides supporting justification for this concept.

    Other Related Pages:

  • EV Driver FRS Radio Channel for EV driver communication
  • See EV-Charging-Everywhere page describing 120v charging options
  • See successes with 120v Charging in the Central Maryland area
  • Download a Charging OUTLET sign or a Charging STATION sign.
  • Charging at Park-N-Rides the common sense approach!
  • Building a DIY Charge cord for 120v for under $100
  • EV Charging, Payin-to-Plugin at US Naval Academy
  • Federal, State, City and Corporate authorzation for EV charging at work
  • Parity between EV Road Tax and Gas Car Environmental Tax
  • Get the Charging-at-work Presentation from the DC EV Forum 12/12/11.
  • Download the EV Position Paper on Charging Infrastructure

    Payin-to-Plugin SUMMARY: The Level-1 120v outlets exist, or can be installed at minimal cost. Lets go for the low hanging fruit with respect to EV charging and enable the existing 120v outlets scattered around first. Writing a letter to every Garage, hotel, apartment, condo, church or Bar owner that has existing 120v outdoor outlets can jump-start EV acceptance overnight at no cost.


    You can also download a powerpoint summary of this web page (see top of page).

    Download a 1 page paper on this tax topic.

    Bob Bruninga
    IEEE National Committee on Transportation and Aerospace
    EV Association of DC
    wb4apr at amsat dot org

    See also the page on Payin-to-Plugin for easy use of 120v outlets at work.
    See also the page on EV and Gas Road and Environmental Use Taxes maintaining Parity
    See also my Solar PHEV, a work in progress...

    Return to WB4APR's overall Site Map