Electric Cars-Makes You Think: Commentary About Real Cost of Electric Cars-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Variations of a commentary titled “Electric Cars-Makes You Think” that compare “the real cost” of operating electric vs. gasoline cars, and claim that the U.S. electric infrastructure can’t handle electric cars, has gone viral.

The Truth:

The “Electric Cars-Makes You Think” commentary’s claims that U.S. energy infrastructure can’t handle electric cars and that “the real cost of electric cars” is far greater than gasoline-powered cars are both false.

It’s not clear where this commentary started, but it went into widespread circulation as driving season kicked-off in summer of 2017. By July 2017, a number of versions of the “Electric Cars-Makes You Think” commentary had been posted to discussion forums and circulated in forwarded emails.


The general gist of the commentary is that the writer was talking to an executive from BC Hydro — a public-private electrical utility based in British Columbia — at a backyard BBQ and learned some surprising facts about electric cars. First, the author claims that the U.S. energy grid can’t handle the power load required for widespread use of electric cars (this is false). Next, the author uses some fuzzy math (and inflated electricity rates) to claim that it costs $46,000 (over what period isn’t clear) to operate an electric car compared to $15,000 for a gasoline powered car (this is also false). We’ll take a look at each claim.

The U.S. Electrical Infrastructure Can’t Support Electric Cars-Fiction!

The commentary claims that Tesla electric cars require 75 amp service to charge, and that a normal electrical grid couldn’t support more than three Teslas on the same block. That claim demonstrates a real lack of understanding about both Tesla charging and energy usage.

In reality, there are three different charging levels for Teslas. The different levels each use different voltages, and that impacts how quickly a Tesla battery can be charged.  Level 1 “trickle charging” requires 15-20 amp service and can be done using the standard 120v outlet that most household electronics use (with an adapter). Level 2 chargers use 240v electrical circuits (similar to those used by washers and dryers) and run up to 80 amp service. Level 3 chargers run on a 480v circuits that are powered by 300 amp services (this is what you’d find at a public charging station), according to Evatran, a startup that develops electric vehicle (EV) technology.

Level 1 nets two miles of Tesla range per hour charged (1.4 kilowatt hour power delivery), level 2 nets 9-52 miles of Tesla range per hour charged (3.7-17.2 kilowatt hour power delivery, and Level 3 provides up to 130 miles of Tesla range per hour charged (up to 140 kilowatt power delivery). For home charging docks, level 2 is most widely used. And, given that level 2 charging can be comparable to the amount of electricity used by a clothes dryer or electric stovetop, the commentary’s claim that the electric grid couldn’t support more than three Teslas on the same block does not reflect reality.

Gasoline Car Costs $15,000 to Operate, Electric Car Costs $46,000-Fiction!

The commentary veers into some fuzzy math when it (falsely) claims that it costs 75 cents per mile to operate an electric car compared to just 10 cents per mile to operate a gasoline powered car. This led the writer to conclude that the cost of operating a gasoline car was $15,000 compared to $46,000 for an electric car.

The idea that it costs 75 cents per mile to drive an electric car is based on claims that it takes 10 hours to fully charge a Chevy Volt hybrid battery, that electricity costs $1.16 per kilowatt hour, and that a fully charged Volt battery can only drive 25 miles on full electric. All three of those factors are wrong.

The commentary’s first mistake is the idea that electricity costs $1.16 per kilowatt hour. Electricity prices vary across the country, but none are that high. When this commentary went viral in July 2017, for example, the average national cost was 12 cents per kilowatt hour. The commentary’s second mistake is the idea that a fully charged Volt battery can only go 25 miles on pure electric. In reality, it can go up to 53 pure electric miles on a full charge, and up to 420 miles with a full charge and a full tank of gas, according to Chevy.

In the end, it would take 370 kilowatt hours of electricity to drive 1,000 miles per month (2.7 miles per kwh) in a fully electric car. Using the national median rate of 12 cents per kilowatt hour, that would cost $44.44 in electricity costs per month. Given that the national median price for gasoline was $2.28 per gallon when this commentary went viral, it would cost $72 per month to drive 1,000 miles in a gasoline-powered car that averages 32 mpg.

The “Electric Cars-Makes You Think” commentary’s claim that the real cost of driving an electric car is $46,000 compared to $15,000 for a gas-powered car is false. Its claim that the U.S. energy grid can’t handle home charging of electric cars is also false.


A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 07/26/2017

At a neighborhood bbq I was talking to a neighbor, a BC Hydro executive. I asked him how that renewable thing was doing. He laughed, then got serious. If you really intend to adopt electric vehicles, he pointed out, you had to face certain realities. For example, a home charging system for a Tesla requires 75 amp service.

The average house is equipped with 100 amp service. On our small street (approximately 25 homes), the electrical infrastructure would be unable to carry more than 3 houses with a single Tesla, each. For even half the homes to have electric vehicles, the system would be wildly over-loaded.
This is the elephant in the room with electric vehicles … Our residential infrastructure cannot bear the load. So as our genius elected officials promote this nonsense, not only are we being urged to buy the damn things and replace our reliable, cheap generating systems with expensive, new windmills and solar cells, but we will also have to renovate our entire delivery system! This latter “investment” will not be revealed until we’re so far down this dead end road that it will be presented with an oops and a shrug.

If you want to argue with a green person over cars that are eco-friendly, just read the following:

Note: If you ARE a green person, read it anyway. Enlightening.

Eric test drove the Chevy Volt at the invitation of General Motors…and he writes…For four days in a row, the fully charged battery lasted only 25 miles before the Volt switched to the reserve gasoline engine. Eric calculated the car got 30 mpg including the 25 miles it ran on the battery. So, the range including the 9 gallon gas tank and the 16 kwh battery is approximately 270 miles.

It will take you 4 1/2 hours to drive 270 miles at 60 mph. Then add 10 hours to charge the battery and you have a total trip time of 14.5 hours. In a typical road trip your average speed (including charging time) would be 20 mph.

According to General Motors, the Volt battery holds 16 kwh of electricity. It takes a full 10 hours to charge a drained battery. The cost for the electricity to charge the Volt is never mentioned so I looked up what I pay for electricity. I pay approximately (it varies with amount used and the seasons) $1.16 per kwh. 16 kwh x $1.16 per kwh = $18.56 to charge the battery. $18.56 per charge divided by 25 miles = $0.74 per mile to operate the Volt using the battery. Compare this to a similar size car with a gasoline engine that gets only 32 mpg. $3.19 per gallon divided by 32 mpg = $0.10 per mile.

The gasoline powered car costs about $15,000 while the Volt costs $46,000……..So the American Government wants loyal Americans not to do the math, but simply pay 3 times as much for a car, that costs more than 7 times as much to run, and takes 3 times longer to drive across the country…..