Ask Eartha: Debunking 4 myths about electric vehicles |

Ask Eartha: Debunking 4 myths about electric vehicles

Jess Hoover
Ask Eartha
Tesla charging stations at the Outlets at Silverthorne have been in place since October 2013.
Photo by Hugh Carey / Summit Daily archives

Dear Eartha,
I’m thinking about getting an electric car, but I’m just not convinced they can handle winter driving. What’s your take?

The future, dear readers, is electric! This is important because it will benefit our rapidly warming climate, our wallets and our health.

A transportation evolution

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than 273 million vehicles cruised American roads in 2018. And the vast majority burned gas and diesel, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In fact, transportation is the No. 1 source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and Colorado. If we’re going to fight climate change, we can’t ignore the gas-guzzlers in our midst.

Fortunately, our state has aggressive electric vehicle goals, aiming to have nearly 1 million electric cars on Colorado’s roads by 2030. Locally, we’re hoping to see 10,000 electric cars in Summit County by 2030. And Xcel Energy recently announced a vision to see 1.5 million electric vehicles in its service territory in the same time frame. So it’s great that you’re thinking about getting an electric vehicle because we need more people like you to meet our goals!

A study completed for the Colorado Energy Office revealed that nearly 40% of Coloradans are ready to buy an electric car within the next five years. But misconceptions abound, which is why I’m happy to set the record straight.

Myth 1: They don’t fit the mountain lifestyle

Try telling that to drivers of the 175 electric vehicles already registered in Summit County. Looking for all-wheel drive but can’t afford a Tesla? Several hybrid models are already available in all-wheel drive. And next year will bring all-electric, all-wheel drive options from Ford, Nissan, Volkswagen and Volvo, too.

Cold weather does impact battery performance, meaning you won’t be able to go quite as far on a full charge. But 80% of us drive 30 miles a day or less, so unless you’re planning a trip to Moab — in which case you’d need to charge anyway — you’ll be just fine running errands or going to work.

Myth 2: They cost more than traditional cars

Of course, you can go for the luxury of a Porsche or the new electric Hummer. But plenty of lower cost options are available. And depending on the make and model, your electric vehicle purchase qualifies you for state and federal tax credits up to $11,500 this year. Next year, the state tax credit drops a bit for a total possible credit of $10,000 — still a significant discount on a new car. Keep in mind, Xcel Energy has its own incentives, too.  

Speaking of Xcel Energy, with the new electric vehicle rate plans under development, charging will be as cheap as paying $1 per gallon of gas. And how great would it be to never get an oil change again?

Myth 3: Electricity is no cleaner than gas

Currently, 30% of the electricity that powers our homes in Summit County is carbon-free. And thanks to state and Xcel Energy goals, the grid is getting cleaner every year. That means fewer emission from both tailpipes and power plants.

The truth is, plugging in is cleaner than filling up at the pump. And not just in terms of carbon dioxide. All the other nasty pollutants that come from gas combustion also decrease in electric cars. They aren’t just better for the planet, they’re better for air quality and, therefore, our health.

Myth 4: Electric vehicle batteries are terrible

While there are pressing concerns about building and recycling electric vehicle batteries, smart people across the world are working to solve these problems. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2025, 75% of electric vehicle batteries will be recycled and reused.  

Frankly, everything we do has an impact. If concern about batteries is enough to keep you from buying an electric vehicle, you should also rethink your laptop, your phone and even the lead-acid battery in your gas-powered car.

For those thinking of buying a new car this year, don’t forget that the state’s tax credits decrease Jan. 1. And for those still holding out, when it is time to replace your vehicle, escape your preconceived notions that cars must run on gas. They can — and do — run on clean, green electrons.

“Ask Eartha Steward” is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at

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