UK government publication debunks EV myths

As consumer interest in electric vehicles has grown, the wave of anti-EV myths and misinformation has grown to a tsunami—false and misleading information sloshes around social media, popular magazines and local newspapers like the tides in the Bay of Fundy.

Above: An electric vehicle charging. Photo: Chutter Snap / Unsplash

Here at the EVannex blog, we regularly publish accurate information that contradicts much of the common anti-EV codswallop (see my recent three-part series: Debunking EV myths, parts one, two and three, and my more tongue-in-cheek piece, Snarky answers to stupid EV questions), and our colleagues in the EV press do the same. We know whereof we speak—we’ve owned EVs for years, and we regularly speak with industry experts about the challenges of e-mobility.

However, to a certain extent we’re preaching to the electric choir—our readership skews toward people who are already knowledgeable about EVs. The “average driver” may be more likely to get their information from a “Thinking about buying an EV?” article in a local newspaper (written by a mainstream journalist who means well, but isn’t well-informed about the topic), or worse yet, from one of those “EVs’ dirty little secret” articles (bought and paid for by the oil industry or some even more sinister entity).

Automakers, which (finally) want consumers to buy their EVs, and governments, which are spending taxpayer money to promote EVs, need to do much more to educate the driving public. The UK’s Department for Transport has taken a step in the right direction with a new publication entitled Common Misconceptions About Electric Vehicles.

For better or for worse, I’ve become something of a professional EV-myth debunker, and my expert assessment of this publication is that it’s quite good. It addresses all the most common canards, plus a few apparently UK-specific ones that even I hadn’t heard before. It presents the material briefly, in plain language, as befits the intended audience of EV-curious motorcar buyers, and includes links to more detailed information.

The myths to be busted (or more properly, objections to be overcome) are presented in the proper order, starting with the most commonly-heard. Item #1 is not exactly a myth, and it’s the main obstacle to wider EV adoption at the moment: EVs are too expensive. The DfT’s boffins correctly point out that EVs do cost more to purchase, but deliver a lower lifetime cost of ownership, thanks to lower fuel and maintenance costs. Tax incentives in the UK provide an added bonus.

The writers succinctly dispose of no less than 19 common bugaboos. Not enough range? 99% of car journeys in England are under 100 miles, and there are over 20 models available in the UK market with over 200 miles of range. Does building an EV generate more emissions than it saves? Actually, no. “This has been debunked in numerous well-respected studies.” Batteries wear out after five years? Not a bit of it. “There are well over 10 million EVs on the world’s roads, [and] there is no evidence to suggest their lifespans are any different from a petrol or diesel vehicle.”

As we move down the list, the objections become more whimsical. Can EVs be driven or charged in the rain? “EVs have to comply with tough technical rules...including crash and electrical safety,” drily write the report’s authors. “This means they are safe to drive and charge in a wide range of weather conditions.” I was a bit disappointed not to see a flash of the famous British ironic humor here, but one can’t always have what one wants, can one?

Unlike the preceding item, a few of the objects on the list are legitimate concerns. Car owners who lack off-street parking spaces do face charging challenges, and the reliability of public chargers currently leaves much to be desired. The report’s authors acknowledge these problems, and highlight steps that government agencies are taking to address them. The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme provides grant funding for local authorities to increase the availability of on-street charge points in residential streets where off-street parking is not available. Legislation that will mandate a 99% reliability standard for rapid charge points is to be introduced in Parliament later this year.


Source: UK Department for Transport