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The EV-Hater's Guide to Hating Electric Cars

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Steve Harvey  has a very snarky post over at plugincars.com. Why DO some people hate electric cars so much?

Here goes:



Electric vehicles are a sales flop and a dismal failure. Or so I was told this week—and last week and the week before—by respected newspapers.

The “sales flop” part surprised me, since I am one of thousands of people waiting in line to buy my electric vehicle. I made my reservation for the car in April 2010, and am hoping for delivery by April 2012. If a car has a two-year wait list, is it a sales flop? Nevermind.

The latest article’s author, like the others, conveniently left out the part about the long waiting list. And he left out a few other things as well. Maybe these folks are just too busy to check their facts. Or, maybe something else is going on.

Electric Citicars

To a true EV-hater, the image of an electric car will always be the small, underpowered battery-powered vehicles from the 1970s. Preferably, the EV will be depicted on a flatbed truck, getting towed after running out of electricity.

Whatever the reason, the media often has an irrational disdain for electric vehicles (EVs). And a similar disdain is common among the general population too. The same EV-hating arguments are repeated ad nauseum in the media. After analyzing the key arguments of the EV haters, I have compiled what I believe is the first-ever EV-Hater's Guide to Hating Electric Cars. If you really hate EVs—and you know who you are—then this Top 10 guide is especially for you.

First, commit these truthy facts to memory:

1. EVs are totally overpriced. 
Point to the $109,000 Tesla Roadster supercar as your only example. If you’re forced to compare prices with a Nissan LEAF—in the mid- to high-20s after tax breaks—then perform a lengthy comparative cost analysis contrasting the LEAF to a $12,000 gasoline car to prove that the EV is more expensive.

2. Plugging them in will crash the grid.
Forget that most electric car charging will occur during off-peak times. And forget that the EV charger on the Nissan LEAF draws a modest 3.3 kilowatts. Just for fun, make the grid-crashing claim while your 4.4-kilowatt clothes dryer is running.

3. EVs are worse for the environment than a gasoline car.
It’s not true, but if you say that often enough, people will believe it. Then roll your eyes and point out that producing electricity for an EV emits pollution too. And what about those batteries? Imply that they’re made out of poison that will pile up in our landfills. Depending on who your audience is, you might also mention that carbon dioxide is a fictional gas invented by the liberal elite.

4. EVs are just a status symbol for eco-snobs.
Remember, the EV is always a symbol for something that you hate. It's not a car.

5. EVs are a sales flop.
Never mention the huge unmet demand and the production bottleneck. Never mention the long waiting lists. Small sales numbers in the first few months of introduction prove that no one wants to buy one. Period.

6. Shout it: Limited range!
This is the one gripe about electric cars that is actually true, so get all the mileage out of it you can. Associate limited range with the word “anxiety.” Say it again: “Anxiety.” See how delightfully negative that word makes you feel. And if an EV-lover mentions that gasoline cars can run out of fuel too, just look at them like they’re crazy, and then change the subject.

Golf Carts

It doesn't matter how much electric horsepower the latest electric cars offer, ALL EVs are golf carts.

Now, swear (on a stack of Hummer owner manuals) that you’ll never talk about these things:

7. NEVER mention fuel costs. 
Just don’t go there. A typical gasoline car will burn about $20,000 worth of gasoline over it’s 128,500 mile lifetime, while an EV will run the same distance for less than $4,000 of electricity. If people start mentally adding that extra $16,000 to the cost of their gasoline car, it’s game over.

8. Never mention timing belts.
I just spent $1,500 getting one replaced in my gasoline car. Of course, an EV owner will never have to do that. Similarly, oil changes and other costly maintenance are a non-issue with an EV. Keep that quiet, okay?

9. Never mention the luxury ride quality.
People spend tens of thousands of dollars extra for gasoline cars that have a smooth and quiet ride. An even smoother and quieter ride is standard with an EV. Avoid mentioning that, and remember to mutter something about golf carts.

10. Never mention the future. 
The cost of an EV will go down by thousands in the years ahead as production costs fall—especially the cost of the battery. Along with the cheaper price will come longer range, faster recharging, more choice, better performance, and other improvements. EVs are price-competitive already. In a few years, EVs will be a distinctly better value than gasoline cars. Shhh. Just keep saying that they’re too expensive.

There you have it, EV haters. Please don’t bother to take an electric car out for a spin to see for yourself, or to ask an EV owner about the real-world experience of driving an electric car.

Add more reasons why EVs suck in the comments below. And spread the word.

About Steve Harvey: I live in St. Louis, where I work as a physician. When not thinking about electric cars, I like to read about paleontology and tend to my trilobite collection. My father and grandfather both worked in the oil industry, so I grew up thinking about oil, and was always aware that oil is coming to an end. I am currently waiting for an electric car to replace my gasoline-powered car. As a Missourian, this will be a long wait.

post #2 of 17

Funny, but truth hurts! In 2007 I bought a used EV (3-wheel 48 volt City EL).  I also ought a hub motor for my trike in 2007.  The City-EL was problems since day one, so I sold it.  One week later it broke a serpentine drive belt.  I am certainly not an EV hater, but I do not want any more.


Although slipping badly; I rode my EV trike last week- slips so bad it will not sell for $1500.  On this building design where I now live- no outlets to charge batteries are in the garage, so EVs are out for me.  Trike is in storage 1 mile away where there is an outlet.


This morning [9-24-11] that Triac EV failure in Salinas hit the news here: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_18967766  After Aptera, Alius, Zenn, Zap, Th!nk, Zap Zebra & PU (to name a few that faded away; EVs are sure fighting an uphill battle.

post #3 of 17

2 months later; that hub motor slipping (especially on hills) was just too much- making pretty useless trike.  I cannot sell it slipping, so it is taking up room locked up in a "bike room".  Out of sight / out of mind.  Someday I will part it out.  3 electric trikes were for sale when I thought about selling it, so I bought an electric trike that does not slip.  Unlike cars; EV trikes can be pretty cheap.


But I have seen 1 Leaf, 2 Teslas, 2 Volts 1 Zap Zebra, 1 Zap P.U., and saw that famous Triac here!  In fact; an old Commutacar is for sale on Craigslist from my area.  There is still hope!

post #4 of 17
The environmental arguement is actually a little more complicated. I think you gave a fairly accurate summary, but an ineresting point is that the amount of CO2e emitting based on the electricity used actually varies greatly depending on which region you charge you vehicle. In California, the Leaf is certainly better for the environment than a Prius, but when you charge up in Colorado, the Prius actually emits less CO2e than the Leaf. For most of the US, the leaf is a better choice, but not everywhere.

Another point to consider is that as renewable energy portfolios grow across the country, the electricity used to charge the Leaf will actually get cleaner over time. So I guess that's another reasons to encourage the us of EVs.

I enjoyed your article. Thanks for the post!
post #5 of 17

The environmental issues and concern do warrant merit. The fact that electric vehicles are pricey is supported in the idea that they will pay for themselves though the necessity of not requiring fuel. nonetheless, these vehicles do require a great deal of power, power that would be added on to individuals existing home power needs. While it is not a huge concern for us at this point, we do need to recognize the possible effects on the globes energy sources if we all were to switch to electric vehicles. Essentially individuals need to decide whether or not they really want to provide change to our environment or change to their pocket books. At this point in time it is true, EV's will save individuals money down the line and suck up energy while we struggle in the world to produce it but they also produce less air pollutants to our environment. The challenge is a double edged sword but its one that comes with consequences shall we decided to combat this issue individually with EVs.

post #6 of 17

Electric Car Hating Propaganda is Exactly That!


It is remarkable how much backlash there has been against electric and hybrid vehicles in the popular media.  I really have to believe that a part of it is that auto manufacturers put pressure on our major media outlets to say as much because if they don’t, they’ll lose advertising dollars.  

A quick glance at your television or a listen to the radio will tell you as much.  These, as well as what is left of the newspaper industry, are still glutted with car ads.

post #7 of 17

I cannot understand impressions- love/hate EVs.  We have had power wheelchairs for years and years.  I bought an electric scooter (larger than a wheelchair) on Craigslist.  What a blast!  it is slower than a licensed scooter but dependable fun.  Very affordable too.


That prompted me into buying 4 well-used wheelchairs- adding zebra tape, stickers, custom candy-apple paint, pinstripes, flames... "shrinking" my vehicle use - while letting my infernal combustion car sit and catch dust.  I am well on the way to 'customized EVs  biggrin.gif !

post #8 of 17

We traded in our 2006 Toyota Prius for a 2011 Volt and quickly discovered some points that haven’t been advertised by Chevrolet (or you guys yet.)  As a result of these discoveries, I’ve been driving her car since March, 2012 to and from work.  Here’s my data so far:


  1.  The Chevy Volt battery is (I think) at 16.6kVA battery.  It only drains down the top 10kVA, so a “full charge” is 10kVA.
  2. The drive system allows 10kVA to be used before the engine/generator system starts to keep the car going after this energy is consumed.
  3. I drive from Londonderry, NH to Methuen, MA for work, Monday thru Friday.  It’s approximately a 37 mile round trip.
  4. During the Spring / Summer months, with the Air conditioning on, the Volt will go approximately 40 miles on 10kVA of charge.  As a result, I’ve been driving the Volt to and from work without using any gas.
  5. The 21 Canadian Solar 235 watt panels on my roof are grid tied.  (you guys installed them)  That’s approximately 4.9kW of installed capacity.
  6. Enphase reports that my average full sun solar production is closer to 4kW.

  7. If the sun shines on my roof for 2.5hours, (2.5 hrs x 4kW = 10kWhr) that’s enough energy to drive my wife’s car for 40 miles!  When I tell this to my friends and neighbors, they begin to understand the relationship between solar energy and kilowatts and energy required to move a car a certain distance.
  8. Another way to equate the coversion of solar electricity to something more tangible for non techno geeks is to assume most cars get around 20 miles/gallon.  You can therefore equate 40 miles of driving to 2 gallons of gas, which is the same functional equivalent as the sun shining on my roof for 2.5 hours.  For us, it’s like we’re making 1 gallon of gas for every 75 minutes that the sun shines on our roof!


Using these forms of economic analysis would lead to a very quick payback for both the Solar panels and the Electric car, especially when the Federal Tax Credits are taken into account.


I couldn’t be happier, because in all honesty, I hate giving my money to the oil companies.   


Check out our production statistics at:  https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/7HPp61895

There, you will see that from March 17th through August 1st, the system produced 2.59MWhr of energy, which divides out to a flat rate of 18.9kWhr/day.

In our particular case with the Chevy Volt, if you accept that the gas only drive mode is 35mpg, which in pure electric mode is equivalent to 8.75kWhr, that’s the same as our solar panels producing roughly 2.4 gallons of gas per day, every day.  At $3.50/gal pump price, that’s equivalent to the solar panels producing $8.40 of fuel per day.


There’s many different ways to run these numbers.  Although the cost economy of this investment to us has been obvious to us, I still don’t think my friends and neighbors get it.  They just think I’m some sort of geek or mad scientist…  Until I succeed in getting my message out there and changing their mindset, I’ll just keep saving money. 


Another purely financial way to present the benefits of Solar PV is to understand that it represents roughly a 15% return on investment.  So, if (like we did) you happen to have $22K just lying around, you could give it to a banker and get less than 1% interest, or you could put that money on the roof of your house (in the form of solar panels) and realize a 15% rate of return on that investment, which is more money than you can currently get from an annuity.  So as a tangible financial instrument, it even makes sense – even without the electric car thrown into the mix.  It’s just that with an electric car, your reduction in pay back time and carbon footprint is drastically reduced.  You also get to drive a really cool car.  Ha!

post #9 of 17

Hmm.  Despite all the reasons that I am told I shouldn't, I really like my 2007 Zenn.  I drive it daily for nearly all my in-city trips over a mile. 

I have other cars,  one is a  4WD van with a payload of 1 Ton that does the heavy hauling.  I can put a 16 foot boat in the back of that one,   I have a 1999 Volvo V70 XC wagon for the occasional freeway trip, or for carrying more than two people.  It has a little more cargo area than the Zenn.  

I saw a guy put 23 cases of beer into a Zenn on YouTube, so  I have to say it is rare that the Volvo goes anywhere based on its cargo capacity,  choosing the 20 mpg gas guzzling Volvo occasionally is really all about the air conditioning, cruise control, leather seats,sound proofing and the rare need to take another couple along.  My all electric 1200 lb Zenn with it's aluminum frame, ABS body and  8 hp electric motor is the car we use the most.  Of course we do use our two Tres Terra electric bicycles and our 100% muscle powered folding bicycle quite a lot during the four weeks when the Seattle weather is good, in the summer, for a lot of trips under a mile.  

Too many people judge electric vehicles as if they were all supposed to be a  transportation swiss army knife.  One car that does everything.   That notion is as archaic and doomed as the buggy whip.   NEV's  like the Zenn with their Microcar chassis, 35 mph top speeds, 30 mile range and ample cargo capacity are the economy and utility leaders in the electric transportation field.  Mine will deliver 30 miles on 54 cents worth of electricity,  (about a fifth of the fuel cost to run a Prius the same distance).   My 6 lead acid batteries lasted from 2007 to 2012 and cost only $1200 to replace.  The Zenn is a real car and a darned efficient one. with a carbon foot print so faint when you use one here in Seattle, that I  doubt that you could do much better if you took the bus.    What all this proves is that guys who waste their time denigrating electric cars as if they were all cut from the same cloth, are really just proving how poorly they understand how to choose them and what to use them for...

post #10 of 17

I’m not an expert, but I’m not a huge fan of CV’s. CNG cars are much more fuel efficient than electric cars (http://www.cngnow.com/what-is-cng/clean/Pages/information.aspx#!prettyPhoto/0/) and there actually are studies that conclude that some aspects of producing electric cars is much worse for the environment than simply driving a gas car. I understand concerns about domestic natural gas drilling, but I honestly think CV’s are exchanging one set of problems for another. If we can get drilling clean, safe, and well regulated, I think CNG could be the future of American energy. I know anything involving an oil company will be controversial, but I think natural gas is the way to go, not battery powered hybrids. 

post #11 of 17

Doesn't make any real sense overall to me.  Consider all vehicles on the road electric.  Or all vehicles CNG- or stem, compressed air, or whatever!  Same number of DUIs, inattentive drivers, exhibitionist speed, 30-40,000 annual deaths on roadways.  (sorry for the morbid thoughts)  I was very much 'for' electric cars but with several EV businesses pulling out, then A-123 battery maker calling it quits today, I am seriously reconsidering this type of personal transportatiion in this overcrowded state.

post #12 of 17

The truth is that EVs have a long way to go. Tax rebates, parking perks, and infrastructural development all help, but it will be many years before they can independently compete with conventional vehicles. Also, a lot of the critics of EVs have a point. Calculating their lifecycle impact on the environment is tricky business.

post #13 of 17

EV's are not yet a true alternative to petrol & diesel cars (which I don't know if any one noticed are getting really efficient and produce much less CO2 & pollutants). They don't have the range and the recharging infastucture isn't in place which would make me really nervous even here in the UK where we don't have anywhere near the same distance issues that you guys in the USA face. Also they are pretty damnned expensive!

post #14 of 17

Nuther one: bye bye Coda!

post #15 of 17

Better Place project from SF to LA also "gave up the ghost".  The plan was many charging stations so an EV would have longer range.  Hopefully the high-speed rail will compensate for this transportation loss.

post #16 of 17

I don't hate EVs! They're great! Serious stuff that beats the dirty oil hands down! Quiet, efficient, and doesn't dig a money pit for ya!


I'd put several technologies together... S.E.G. to power the electric car and that's it, no more worries about running out of electric, it's all ON DEMAND from the either!


That's what I like.


TOTAL independence from the greedy creeps out there! You know who you are!


Either Tesla's device that pulls in free electricity from the air, or Searle's Effect Generator, the only two devices I'd considered powering MY car. All else have flaws of various types.


I'm sick of this world's utter dependence on the greedy guts teats! Time to CUT the teats off and go our own way!

post #17 of 17
Better Place is right back up this morning:
I will have to Th!nk about how long it will last this time (ps- Th!nk folded). However Alibaba in China seems to keep on going whatever happens. They seem to have hundres of EVs. An EV is planned to be sold in Texas in 2014 that I want, but Alibaba is selling those right now.
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