Truth in Labeling: Electrification Misrepresentation
I am deeply concerned about misinformation concerning energy – and especially misinformation relative to electric vehicles.
Car companies, government agencies, and President Obama are misrepresenting the actual fuel economy (MPG) and associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of such vehicles. This website is devoted to exposing the “false solution” of plug-in cars, both battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). Its objective is to inform people about the MPG misrepresentation for BEVs and PHEVs that creates false hope for the “clean” electrification of personal transportation.
On August 4, 2008 candidate Barack Obama gave a talk in Lansing, MI entitled “We must end the age of oil in our time.” He announced his New Energy for America plan including the elimination of our dependence on Middle Eastern oil in ten years. In the speech he noted “We’ve heard promises about energy independence from every single President since Richard Nixon. We’ve heard talk about curbing the use of fossil fuels in State of the Union addresses since the oil embargo of 1973.” In this talk he committed to getting one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads by 2015, referring at that time to the Chevy Volt, which was first shipped in late 2010. Obama said that he had led the bipartisan effort to invest in the technology necessary to build plug-in hybrid cars. He offered a $7,000 tax credit, later changed to a rebate, and said he would provide $4 billion in loans and tax credits to American auto plants and manufacturers so that they can re-tool their factories and build electric cars.
GM initially claimed that the Volt fuel economy would be 150 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). The actual MPGe according to the current EPA Volt rating is much less – 62 MPGe. But this rating does not include the energy used to generate the electricity for the car. Using a more accurate approach to measurement that includes the fossil fuel burned in power plants, Volt fuel economy is closer to 37 MPG. This misleading way of measuring MPG has been at the core of electric vehicle marketing for four years.
A comparison of CO2 generated, including power plant emissions, shows that the Volt generates 290 grams of CO2 per mile, much higher than the Toyota Prius. When CO2 emissions from power plants are included, PHEVs and EVs make little environmental sense.
The U.S. government has budgeted $5 billion in car electrification with limited success. Car companies are content to go along with this program since it allows them to continue manufacturing the typical mix of gasoline cars while arguing that they are becoming “green”. But the public is beginning to understand that PHEVs and BEVs do not offer a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions. When consumers finally understands the method of computing electric car MPGe, sales of such cars will stall.
2012 U.S. sales for the Chevy Volt were 23,461 units. Total U.S. Volt sales in 2011 and 2012 combined were 31,132 units. Total PHEV sales for 2011 and 2012 were 48,982 units. Total BEV sales in the same two year period were 27,408 units. Total Prius sales in the same two year period were 360,368 units, while total hybrid sales were 672,447 units.
As environmentally conscious consumers become more aware of the total CO2 emissions of electric cars they will tend to buy more efficient and less polluting conventional hybrids.
Pat Murphy, Research Director of Community Solutions
communitysolution.org 937 767-2161