Setting the record straight on electric vehicles

Woman charging electric vehicle

The average American household spends about $175 a month on gasoline.

That means billions of dollars to oil companies, refiners, and others — and a huge incentive for their lobbyists to try to block policies that move America to clean, zero-emissions electric vehicles.

Here are facts to counter the misinformation designed to keep Americans paying at the pump:

Fact: Investing in electric vehicles and American workers can help us win the race for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

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The question isn’t electric trucks, buses, and cars versus gas-powered vehicles — the global industry is already moving to EVs, and spending at least $268 billion this decade to make the switch. The issue is whether American workers will get these jobs. We can build these vehicles in places like Hamtramck, MI and Spartanburg, SC or have them shipped to us from Hamburg and Shanghai. Right now 95% of zero-emission heavy duty vehicles are made in China, and Europe is making major investments. We need to act if we are going to ensure U.S. manufacturing is competitive in this growing zero emitting vehicles market.

Strategic incentives and workforce training are key to keeping those investments in the United States. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan invests in American workers, including by allocating funding for job training and community revitalization programs, helping to assure no worker will be left behind and the electric vehicle transition benefits everyone. His plan also provides tax credits that enable automakers to grow domestic supply chains and re-tool factories to make American-made electric vehicles competitive on a global scale.

Fact: Building more electric cars, trucks, and buses here in the U.S. can mean hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs.

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There are companies building and developing clean cars, trucks, buses, and batteries all around the country. From Michigan to South Carolina, from Missouri to Texas, companies are building zero-emission cars, EV batteries and charging infrastructure. As the shop chairman of United Auto Workers Local 598 said, having unionized companies like General Motors at the forefront of this shift will mean "increased sales and customers. . . it means more jobs." Estimates suggest significant investments could mean over 650,000 jobs in electric vehicle manufacturing and related fields.

Fact: EVs are much better for the climate than traditional gas-powered vehicles.

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Electric vehicles in the US emit less climate pollution than fully gasoline-powered cars, even when powered by today’s mixed sources of electric power. Their engines are just much more efficient. And as we move to 100% clean power nationwide, EVs will get even cleaner. That transition is already underway: Over 87 million American customers get service from a utility that’s committed to net-zero-emissions. And investments in grid modernization included in the American Jobs Plan will clear the way for the grid to support even more clean energy.

Transportation is the biggest source of climate pollution in the US, and switching to zero-emissions EVs are a big part of the solution. In the face of damaging and costly storms, floods, heatwaves and wildfires, we need action.

Fact: Electric vehicles are good for our health, as well as the environment.

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Burning of gasoline and diesel from conventional vehicles produces harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, which produce smog, as well as particulate matter, also known as soot. All of these can contribute to serious respiratory diseases and cause premature death. Studies estimate that on-road transportation pollution causes an estimated 15,000 deaths each year.

This pollution can have devastating health effects, especially on our children, such as hospitalization and poor performance in school due to asthma. It also especially harms people of color, who are exposed to approximately 37% more pollution from transportation than white U.S. residents.

Electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions and will save lives and reduce other health costs. Right now we’re sending kids to school on buses that cause them to breathe high levels of pollution.

Fact: Zero-emissions vehicles mean healthier communities and a more equitable America.

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Fully electric cars have zero tailpipe emissions, so transitioning trucks, buses, emergency vehicles, taxis and ridesharing fleets to electric vehicles will reduce air pollution for everyone. This means fewer hospitalizations related to asthma and associated health problems.

That has the potential to benefit people of color who, due to discrimination in housing, zoning and economic opportunity, more often live near ports, highways and other industrial sites where they are exposed to harmful pollution from diesel and gasoline-powered vehicle traffic.

Fact: EVs are for and can benefit everyone.

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Once considered a luxury item, electric vehicles are now being produced at many price points and styles. And as the number of electric vehicles on the road increases, so will the market for used electric cars to reduce these costs further.

But the cost of the vehicles isn't the only barrier to adopting them. We also need to make sure low-income residents and other underserved communities have access to charging infrastructure, and education about the benefits of EVs. This is especially important in making sure everyone benefits from cleaner air from electric vehicles, including people of color who are currently exposed to approximately 37% more pollution from transportation than white residents.

President Biden has committed to bringing charging stations and clean vehicles to low-income communities and communities of color. Specifically, the American Jobs Plan commits resources to disadvantaged communities and calls for increasing incentives and rebates to purchasers of zero-emissions vehicles. Rep. Yvette Clarke of New York also has a bill in Congress to fund EV charging infrastructure in underserved communities.

Fact: Clean vehicle goals are achievable.

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The speed of technology advancement, along with investments and other smart policies, will let us reach our goal of all zero-emission new cars by 2035 and new trucks and buses by 2040.

More than 175 zero emission truck, bus, car and SUV models are in production or development for the U.S. market. Companies from Amazon and FedEx to Pepsi are looking to switch to clean vehicles. Every major car manufacturer is making significant investments in electric cars, with many aiming for a fully electric future. General Motors recently announced a goal of eliminating tailpipe pollution from all of its cars and pickup trucks by 2035. The faster we move, the faster we can put people to work building the cars of today and tomorrow.

U.S. companies have proven time and time again, they can rise to meet any challenge — but they need a predictable business climate to scale up production and plan for the long term.

Fact: With investment and focus, our power grid can manage and support all demand from electric vehicles.

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Growth in electric cars and trucks will increase electricity demand. This is why these efforts must be paired with investments in grid modernization, and why the American Jobs plan includes billions of dollars for high-voltage power lines and other grid modernization initiatives.

This new demand can also boost investments in clean electricity, bolstering American energy independence and a reliable energy grid. Using vehicle-to-grid technology, EVs can actually help grid operators integrate higher levels of renewable energy by acting as batteries.

A cleaner grid means less dependence on polluting power plants, which are most often located near communities of color and low-income communities. It also means increased expansion of cleaner sources like rooftop solar in these neighborhoods. This can create good jobs in areas where they are desperately needed.

By prioritizing policies to increase EV deployment alongside investments and solutions to expand clean electricity deployment and modernize our grid, we can ensure we maximize the benefits EVs can offer.

Fact: Electric vehicles in production come in all shapes and sizes.

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Automakers are coming out with a wide variety of electric vehicles, in as many varieties as gasoline-powered cars, providing their customers a choice in the vehicle they drive. These companies are responding to consumer demand and technological advancements, and are investing $257 billion to do so. And their performance is better than many gas-powered cars — some models can go from zero to sixty in 2.3 seconds.

For example, we expect to see the electric light duty truck and SUV market growing rapidly: Ford recently unveiled their electric F-150 lightning, which will be available next year, Rivian’s electric truck is expected this summer, and an electric Chevrolet Silverado is expected in 2023. There is also the Ford Mustang Mach-e widely available and getting rave reviews, a Volkswagen’s ID.4 crossover SUV which recently hit the market and an electric Hummer due out this year, which has seen sky-high demand.

Before too long, gas-powered cars will seem old-fashioned. Sure, some people will still enjoy their vintage cars. But technology moves quickly — and brings with it lower costs, higher performance and more fun.

Fact: EVs will soon have the same upfront costs as regular cars. They also save consumers thousands on gas and maintenance.

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Analysts predict EVs will reach price parity with gasoline-powered cars by 2025, and by 2030, the buyer of a new battery electric vehicle will save more than $7,000 over the life of the car compared to a gasoline-powered car. And right now there are already very affordable electric cars.

For years we’ve had debates about gas prices. With EV’s you pay zero at the gas station, and much less in overall fueling costs. Just about the only people arguing against the switch to EVs are the oil companies, oil refiners and their allies — they’re grasping to preserve their profits. Of course they want people to pay to fill up their cars with gasoline every week.

Fact: Electric vehicles can travel long distances and charging them is convenient.

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Many EVs can go 200-400 miles on one charge, with some up to 500 miles.

And while there are about 150,000 gas stations in the United States, there are tens of millions of homes, and that’s where 88% of EV charging happens, usually overnight. That’s much more convenient. EV owners can use a standard outlet or install an upgraded charger.

President Biden also has a plan to put 500,000 chargers on highways, parking lots, and apartment buildings. And major utilities, rural electric co-ops, and other stakeholders are also already working to build out charging networks.

Fact: You can charge an EV with a regular wall outlet and there are lots of tax incentives available to offset the cost of a faster charger.

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An upgraded home charger is not a requirement to operate an EV. You can charge from home using a normal outlet and a cheap adapter. This will give, on average 40 miles in an overnight charge, which is enough for most American’s daily commutes.

If you want faster charging, known as Level 2, to fully charge your car overnight, you can install a 220 volt outlet, like you would use for your clothes dryer. Many federal, as well as state, tax credits are currently available to offset costs associated with installing a Level 2 home charger. And many more tax incentives have been proposed, especially for low-income customers.

Fact: Electric vehicles are reliable.

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Electric cars require a lot less maintenance than combustion engines. The battery, motor, and associated electronics require little to no regular checks. There are less fluids, such as no oil, to change regularly, there is less wear on the brakes, and overall there are far less moving parts to check and fix. EVs are also mandated to have warranties on batteries.

Fact: No one is going to take away your gas-powered car.

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This transition to electric vehicles is for new cars (and trucks and buses) only. There is no requirement to trade in a pre-owned gas-powered vehicle. And used gas powered cars will still be available.

Fact: We can produce cleaner car batteries in the USA and work to recycle their components.

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As we build more clean cars, we should also make producing batteries cleaner and recycling them easier.

A report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) says that the place where a battery is made has a lot to do with the amount of emissions from the manufacturing process. Batteries made in the US, with American manufacturing techniques, produce 65% less emissions than those currently made in China.* It’s another reason for policies to boost American production of electric vehicles and their components and create jobs here at home.

We should also continue to increase battery life and the ease of recycling them. USA Today reports that “researchers found that recycling car batteries on a large scale was ‘very promising’” and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says that lithium-ion car batteries could last up to 15 years. Late last year a company called Li-Cycle opened the largest battery recycling plant in North America, in Rochester, NY. They are part of a burgeoning market for EV recycling companies.

* Vehicles with Chinese-made batteries are still cleaner than gas vehicles.

Fact: We must prioritize responsible practices in the mining of minerals needed for EVs, and at the same time develop alternatives and invest in better recycling.

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There is environmental risk in the mining, processing, and waste management of minerals for batteries for electric vehicles, if we don’t do it responsibly. But transportation is the largest source of climate pollution in the United States, and failing to act boldly, including widespread electrification, is vastly more expensive and dangerous than what it will take to meet the challenge.

Just as major companies of the world came together to make a material difference in the blood diamond trade, we can and must engage with mining companies to make sure the minerals currently used for electric vehicle batteries in the United States are mined responsibly. Prosperity of the fossil fuel era came at the expense of the health of many and we need to make sure that doesn’t carry forward into our clean energy future. At the same time companies are already studying alternatives in favor of more common metals, for example new Nickel batteries, and other materials that can be produced through nanotechnology and 3D printing, and these efforts deserve increased funding.

We also need to make a strong commitment to recycle the metals used in these batteries. Lithium, for example, can be reprocessed and reused. We must build responsible material management into our plans for a clean economy now so that we minimize the need for huge amounts of virgin material in the future.

Fact: To combat child labor in the overseas mining industry, we need strong monitoring and to build more batteries here under US labor laws.

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Mineral sourcing from countries with gross human rights abuses, including child labor, is unacceptable. But the solution isn’t sticking to a broken system of relying on polluting transportation that carries its own unacceptable human toll. Instead, we need standards supported by credible third-parties that verify minerals are being sourced sustainably and ethically. Those who are truly concerned about labor standards overseas should be advocating zero-emission vehicle standards paired with domestic manufacturing incentive programs in the US.

Fact: The U.S. EPA and the State of California have clear authority to establish pollution safeguards that rely on the increasing availability of zero-emitting vehicles.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has time tested authority to adopt pollution standards that rely on the increasing availability of zero-emitting vehicles. California can set more protective standards for cars and trucks (and other states can adopt these standards).

Fact: Electric pickup trucks are expected to have strong towing capacity and performance.

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Electric pickup trucks and other electric vehicles are expected to have more torque than traditional combustion vehicles, so they are well suited to tasks such as hauling trailers and towing other heavy equipment. This includes Rivian’s electric truck expected later this year, the electric Ford F-150 Lightning which will be available in 2022 and electric Chevrolet Silverado in 2023.

Fact: EVs work in cold places like Norway and Canada, as well as winters in the United States.

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Half of all cars sold in 2020 in Norway, a country that sees temperatures around freezing for months, were electric. Quebec, which has around three months below freezing a year, is also becoming a hub for electric vehicle manufacturing. And while cold weather reduces efficiency of all vehicle types, including EVs, better batteries mean less concern about cold affecting battery usage.

Fact: Current zero-emission transportation goals only apply to on-road vehicles.

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Advances to electrify and reduce pollution are happening across the transportation sector. However, current proposals to move new vehicle sales to be all zero-emitting only apply to on-road vehicles and not farm equipment, construction equipment and other off-road vehicles.