Electric Vehicle Myths
On this page:
- Myth #1: Electric vehicles are worse for the climate than gasoline cars because of the power plant emissions.
- Myth #2: Electric vehicles don’t have enough range to handle daily travel demands.
- Myth #3: Electric vehicles only come as sedans.
- Myth #4: There is nowhere to charge.
- Myth #5: Electric vehicles are worse for the climate than gasoline cars because of battery manufacturing.
- Myth #6: Electric vehicles are not as safe as comparable gasoline vehicles.
- FACT: Electric vehicles typically have a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline cars, even when accounting for the electricity used for charging.
Electric vehicles (EVs) have no tailpipe emissions. Generating the electricity used to charge EVs, however, may create carbon pollution. The amount varies widely based on how local power is generated, e.g., using coal or natural gas, which emit carbon pollution, versus renewable resources like wind or solar, which do not. Even accounting for these electricity emissions, research shows that an EV is typically responsible for lower levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) than an average new gasoline car. To the extent that more renewable energy sources like wind and solar are used to generate electricity, the total GHGs associated with EVs could be even lower. (In 2020, renewables became the second-most prevalent U.S. electricity source.1 ) Learn more about electricity production in your area by visiting EPA’s Power Profiler interactive web page. By simply inputting your zip code, you can find the energy mix in your region.
EPA and DOE’s Beyond Tailpipe Emissions Calculator can help you estimate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with charging and driving an EV or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) where you live. You can select an EV or PHEV model and type in your zip code to see the CO2 emissions and how they stack up against those associated with a gasoline car.
- FACT: Electric vehicle range is more than enough for typical daily use in the U.S.
Electric vehicles (EVs) have sufficient range to cover a typical household’s daily travel, which is approximately 50 miles on average per day.2 The majority of households (roughly 85%) travel under 100 miles on a typical day. Most EV models go above 200 miles on a fully-charged battery, with nearly all new models traveling more than 100 miles on a single charge. And automakers have announced plans to release even more long-range models in the coming years.
Range estimates for specific EVs are available from the Find A Car tool on www.fueleconomy.gov—click on the car you are interested in, and check out the “EPA Fuel Economy” line in the table.
How you drive your vehicle and the driving conditions, including hot and cold weather, also affect the range of an electric vehicle; for instance, researchers found on average could decrease about 40% due to cold temperatures and the use of heat.3 Visit www.energy.gov to get tips on maximizing your electric car’s range in extreme temperatures.
- FACT: Electric vehicles now come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are now available in many vehicle classes, extending beyond small sedan/compact models. There are currently more than 50 PHEV and EV models on the market. More models are being released in the coming years, so vehicle class options are likely to expand.
- FACT: Electric vehicles can be plugged into the same type of outlet as your toaster! When you need to charge while on the road, you’ll find over 45,000 stations in the U.S. available to the public.
Many people can meet their driving needs by plugging in only at home. Most electric vehicles (EVs) can be charged with a standard 120 V (Level 1) outlet. To charge the vehicle more quickly, you can install a dedicated 240 V (Level 2) outlet or charging system. And for those who live in apartments or condominiums, EV charging stations are becoming a more common building amenity.
Workplace charging is also becoming more widely available, and there are growing numbers of public charging stations. These stations can be found along highways, at grocery stores or other retail locations, and in public garages. There are currently over 45,000 stations available nationally.4 Most of these stations have Level 2 chargers, providing 10–20 miles of range per hour, but increasing numbers of higher-powered DC Fast charging stations are becoming available, delivering 60 miles or more of range in 20 minutes or less. Learn more about vehicle charging.
The Alternative Fuels Data Center’s map, and associated app for mobile devices,5 provides locations of all public charging stations in the U.S., and is updated regularly. Several automakers have charging station location information built into their onboard information systems, and many apps, including popular navigation ones, also provide charging station locations.
- FACT: The greenhouse gas emissions associated with an electric vehicle over its lifetime are typically lower than those from an average gasoline-powered vehicle, even when accounting for manufacturing.
Some studies have shown that making a typical electric vehicle (EV) can create more carbon pollution than making a gasoline car. This is because of the additional energy required to manufacture an EV’s battery. Still, over the lifetime of the vehicle, total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with manufacturing, charging, and driving an EV are typically lower than the total GHGs associated with a gasoline car. That’s because EVs have zero tailpipe emissions and are typically responsible for significantly fewer GHGs during operation (see Myth 1 above).
For example, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory estimated emissions for both a gasoline car and an EV with a 300-mile electric range. In their estimates, while GHG emissions from EV manufacturing and end-of-life are higher (shown in orange below), total GHGs for the EV are still lower than those for the gasoline car.
Estimates shown6 from GREET 2 2021 are intended to be illustrative only. Estimates represent model year 2020. Emissions will vary based on assumptions about the specific vehicles being compared, EV battery size and chemistry, vehicle lifetimes, and the electricity grid used to recharge the EV, among other factors.
Above, the blue bar represents emissions associated with the battery. The orange bars encompass the rest of the vehicle manufacturing (e.g., extracting materials, manufacturing and assembling other parts, and vehicle assembly) and end-of-life (recycling or disposal). The gray bars represent upstream emissions associated with producing gasoline or electricity (U.S. mix), and the yellow bar shows tailpipe emissions during vehicle operations.
Recycling EV batteries can reduce the emissions associated with making an EV by reducing the need for new materials. While some challenges exist today, research is ongoing to improve the process and rate of EV battery recycling. For more information on EV battery development and recycling, visit:
- U.S. Department of Energy’s ReCell Center
- National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries, 2021-2030 (pdf) (June 2021, report published by the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries)
- FACT: Electric vehicles must meet the same safety standards as conventional vehicles.
All light duty cars and trucks sold in the United States must meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. To meet these standards, vehicles must undergo an extensive, long-established testing process, regardless of whether the vehicle operates on gasoline or electricity. Separately, EV battery packs must meet their own testing standards. Moreover, EVs are designed with additional safety features that shut down the electrical system when they detect a collision or short circuit.
For more information, visit DOE’s Alternative Fuel Data Center.
1 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA): https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=48896#
5 Search for “Alternative Fueling Stations” in your phone’s app store. The developer is National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
6 Assumptions: EV with 300-mile range; vehicle lifetime of 173,151 miles for both EV and gas car; 30.7 MPG gas car; and U.S. average grid emissions.