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Don’t Just Google It: UCS Answers Your Questions about EVs

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On May 19th Grist reporter Ben Adler held a Google hangout with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy, and Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz. The discussion with the twitter hashtag #WHClimateChat focused on questions from the audience about the President’s Climate Action Plan. Many of the questions answered by McCarthy and Moniz were about fuel economy and vehicle technologies—topics that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) works on regularly.

This is right on the heels of the Union of Concerned Scientist‘s very own Google hangout panel featuring Nigel Zeid, a Nissan Leaf salesman in Colorado; Ron Kaltenbaugh, an electrical engineer and electric vehicle (EV) enthusiast from the Electric Vehicle Association of DC; and me, a life cycle analyst from UCS. The session was moderated by my colleagues Josh Goldman and Lucy Litvak.

Both Google hangouts were big successes, but you can judge for yourself. 

We had dozens of EV enthusiasts register for the event, and our experts had a great interactive discussion that answered common questions from the audience about EVs, including:

  • How do I respond to the misinformation that electric vehicles are powered from dirty coal plants?
  • What is battery range?
  • What are the implications of using an EV in a cold winter climate, like Minnesota?
  • Should an EV be charged even after a short drive, or should the batteries be nearly drained before charging them back up?
  • What is the useful lifespan of an EV battery pack and is there a cost effective way to replace it?
  • What is the state of battery development with respect to cost, energy storage, and EV range? What can be expected in the near future?
  • What are the facts behind the lifecycle environmental impacts of EVs?

Better yet, watch the hangouts yourselves! You can find the White House Climate Chat with Secretary Moniz and Administrator McCarthy online at Grist, and you can see the recording of our own Google hangout below. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more events like this by signing up for email updates about events, news, and action alerts. Finally, if we didn’t answer your EV questions in the hangout, you can leave them below in the comments section.

Posted in: Vehicles

About the author: Rachael Nealer is an engineer and Kendall Science Fellow exploring the lifecycle environmental impacts of advanced vehicles, specifically hybrid-electric, plug-in electric, and fuel cell vehicles. See Rachael's full bio.

Support from UCS members make work like this possible. Will you join us? Help UCS advance independent science for a healthy environment and a safer world.

  • hebintn

    In my area of the country, KY/TN most of our electricity comes from coal. By driving an EV I’m effectively shifting the problem from oil/gasoline to coal which is not acceptable. As I see it I have only one option: install PV on my roof and hope the sun shines. If I charge away from home I’m consuming more coal and blowing up the mountains I live in, polluting the water and air, and killing my fellow humans.

    • rnealer

      My colleague, Josh Goldman, is working on a blog about connecting solar power to electric vehicles. So stay tuned for that here on The Equation. Thanks!

  • hebintn

    Who pays for the electrons when you charge an EV not plugged into your home circuit?

    • rnealer

      Thanks for your question. Who pays for electricity when you charge an EV depends on the charger. There is residential, public, and workplace charging all with different payment methods. You can find more information on where chargers are and what they cost at http://www.plugshare.com/.

  • James Acton

    Wish I could have been there!

    • rnealer

      Thanks, James!

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