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Frequently Asked Questions:

Energy Efficiency & Pollution

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Doesn't the electric car just shift the pollution to the power plant?

No. It's much easier to clean up one large stationary smokestack than millions of tiny mobile ones. In fact, where power is generated primarily from hydro sources, EVs are 98%-99.9% cleaner than equivalent internal combustion vehicles. Even where power comes primarily from coal, EVs are 55%-92% cleaner, depending on which gasses you are measuring.

And by the way, if you want a fair comparison to gas cars, you really need to include the pollution from the oil refineries, tanker ships, and tanker trucks.

For more detailed information about EVs and pollution, see Debunking the Myth of EVs and Smokestacks and also the Tech Paper EV Myths.

Aren't the dead batteries a hazardous waste?

No. Batteries are 99% recyclable, and are one of the most highly recycled products in the country. When you buy a new battery, the dealer will ask for your old ones in trade, or you will be charged a "core charge" if you don't turn them in.

For more detailed information about EVs and pollution, see the Tech Paper EV Myths.

If we have a lot of EVs, won't we have to build a lot more power plants?

No. EVs are charged primarily overnight. This is perfect for electrical utilities, because this is the time when they have surplus capacity available. In fact, a large population of EVs would serve as a "load leveler", allowing the power plants to operate with less fluctuation between high peak demand and low off-peak demand, which would make them run more efficiently.

Isn't a lot of energy wasted in the inefficiency of the power transmission lines?

Yes, there is a high level of efficiency loss in power transmission. However, it is still less than the inefficiencies of the internal combustion engine. For example, take two barrels of oil in the ground. Take one and turn it into gas to run a car. Turn the other into electricity to run an EV. Out of the 100% total potential energy in the crude oil, only 11% is left to turn the wheels of the car. The rest is lost in inefficiencies of extraction, refining, delivery, and combustion. Out the 100% total potential energy in the other barrel, 17% is left to power the wheels of the EV. The overall system from well to wheel is much more efficient for EVs than for internal combustion vehicles.

For more detailed information about EVs and pollution, see the Tech Paper EV Myths.

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