EV-Hater’s Guide to Hating Electric Cars: Chapter 2

By · August 18, 2011

Last week, PluginCars.com posted my EV-Hater’s Guide to Hating Electric Cars. The article, based on the mainstream media’s wonderfully irrational disdain for electric vehicles, generated a lot of comments. Web discussions about EVs, for some reason, are especially vitriolic—generating a lot of false and downright misleading information. Thus, the need for this second chapter of the EV-Hater’s Guide.

Small old-school European electric car charging up

All electric cars are small, funny-looking and have very limited range. They look cheap, but the electricity to run them isn't cheap at all.

Whether you’re a novice EV-basher just now learning the ropes, or a veteran hater looking to brush up on your skills, this new chapter will help you stir up more anti-EV hysteria.

Let’s start with a few fun false claims to spread around:

1. You're going to spend a fortune on electricity.
This claim works best if there is no one around with a calculator. If anyone starts actually doing math, change the subject. If that dreaded calculator does show up, the calculation might start by assuming that you drive 12,000 miles per year, or 1,000 miles per month. That works out to about 240 kWh of electricity per month. Where I live, that's about $24. Oh, except some places might give a 50 percent discount for charging off-peak time. So, maybe $12 in fuel costs per month. (So, how much are you paying for gas?)

2. You'll have to replace that expensive battery.
Make up a scary-sounding but believable number to cite. Try something like $20,000. Hopefully, no one knows about the 8-year 100,000 miles warranty on most models. Pray that no one will bring up the relatively low tech EVs from a decade ago, like the Toyota RAV4 EV, that are still doing fine with the original batteries. Or, that the new batteries are modular so that you can replace individual modules rather than the whole pack. Or that battery prices are dropping fast. Or that the battery will likely last as long as a gasoline engine would. Or that...well, you get the idea. (For fun: Drop a hint that EV batteries are very toxic and will clog up our landfill with poison.)

3. We’ll replace oil dependence with dependency on lithium and rare earth metals.
The lithium for the lithium ion battery comes from places like Argentina, Bolivia, and (gasp!) Nevada. Make those places sound scary. Chile? How can you trust a nation that is so long and narrow? Seriously. Leave out the part that when you "use" lithium, it's still there—but when you use gasoline, it's gone. Forget about new big investments in the U.S. and global supply chain for rare earth metals. And never mention that the auto industry is preparing for an EV revolution by developing new powerful technologies for batteries and electric motors that look beyond lithium and greatly reduce and in some cases eliminate the need for rare earth metals.

4. People only buy electric cars because they are government subsidized.
This is a wonderfully deceptive half-truth. Certainly, the current tax break is an incentive for consumers, albeit a temporary one. Be sure to steer clear of comparing the gigantic subsidy to oil to the very small subsidy for EVs. If oil were not subsidized, the price of gasoline would be much higher. Someone might point out that electric cars might out-compete gasoline cars, if both subsidies disappeared. Yikes. If you start to hear that argument, your best bet is to get very talkative—blab about range anxiety, for example—until everyone forgets what the original topic was.

Chevy Volt battery packs

Now and forever, electric car battery packs will be very large, very expensive to replace, will require a dependence on foreign lithium, and will eventually clog our landfills with toxic ooze.

5. Don’t worry. There are vast untapped petroleum reserves in the USA.
Clear throat, and leave room ASAP. Or quickly return conversation to oil subsidies.

6. We need those oil subsidies.
That’s right. Removing oil subsidies would make oil prices too high, and that would be an outrage since we depend on oil so much. We all need to get to work—preferably driving solo in full-size SUVs. You probably just argued that our dependence on oil is not that bad—so be careful to use these arguments at least a few minutes apart.

7. It’s just a stupid Republicrat thing.
Bring partisan politics into it. Of course, politics are irrelevant. (We’re talking about a car. Hello?) But politics gets people stirred up, and irrationality is exactly what you need to help spread the hate.

8. Dodge the 'Where is the oil money going?' issue.
A typical gasoline car burns through $1,000 – $2,000 of gasoline per year. More than half of that is imported. If you have a “Support Our Troops” bumper sticker on your gas-guzzler, remember to deny any possibility of irony.

9. Electric cars are too quiet, and therefore a dangerous menace to blind pedestrians.
There are have been no independent studies that show that cars without revving engines are a problem for any pedestrians. Who cares? Try to take one of the best qualities of an electric car—how pleasantly quiet they are—and turn it into a menace. Disregard that all cars are getting quieter, that almost-as-quiet hybrids are out there by the millions, that even EVs have tires that make a sound when they roll, and that carmakers are adding subtle exterior sounds when traveling at low speeds. Repeat that blind pedestrians will suffer, and little kids could also get run over.

And now, three more tactics, for advanced EV-Hater’s only.

1. Conduct a bogus study.
Call up people and ask "If there was a dreadfully undesirable car, would you buy it?" 98% will say no. The other 2% were just messing with you. Conclude that this proves that demand is small, and therefore EVs will be only 1.25% of the world market by the year 3000. Publish, and charge for your research. Hide your source of funding.

2. Straw Man maneuver.
Take any true statement made by an EV advocate, and then simply substitute it for a similar-sounding false statement. And then bash the false statement. For example, a car company might say, "This car has no tailpipe, and therefore no tailpipe emissions." Just shout "Ha! You said there are no emissions! And that's a lie!" Then, follow up by pointing out that electricity is sometimes generated by coal, and burning coal causes emissions. Oh, and by the way, good job bringing up that coal thing since you're probably the first person to think of that.

3. Stage a phony failure.
Go all Top Gear and drive around in circles while the car is blaring at you that it's just about to run out of juice. Then run out of juice, and act dismayed. (Careful: Don't get caught by the telematics.)

That concludes Chapter Two of the EV-Hater’s Guide. I would like to thank all the people who helped me write this by posting your hateful comments on various websites. You were just kidding, right?

New to EVs? Start here

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  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.