Plug In America |

PIA Positions

A self-charging car doesn't exist. You can't get around the laws of physics. There's no way to build a practical car that relies on solar or wind or squirrel-power within the car itself. Again, gotta have that plug. Read more.

Putting solar photovoltaics (PV) directly on EVs is nice but not adequate. Most solar panels would add too much weight to an EV to be worthwhile. Some newer, lighter, flexible PV technology could generate power for interior climate control or minor tasks, but not enough to power a car a significant distance. Gotta have that plug.

Windmills on EVs don't make sense. The drag they create reduces efficiency, necessitating more energy to run the car. Read More.

Compressed-air cars don't stack up to battery EVs. A compressed air car is essentially an electric car with a different energy storage system. They are inherently less efficient than EVs.

Resources
Wind-to-Wheel Energy Assessment
"Startup banking on idea of air-powered cars"

Car battery recycling is a success story. More than 98% of conventional car batteries already get recycled, and the same (or better) should be true of EV batteries. But let's start at the beginning -- creating EV batteries is much less damaging to the planet than drilling for oil to run gas cars, according to a study by the Swiss EMPA Institute, which focuses on material sciences and technology development. (Read a Discovery article about that study.) And even before recycling, GM is planning a second life for car batteries, as are other automakers and utilities. Regarding recycling, see a Treehugger article and what Tesla says about its batteries. Read about the DOE granting $9.5 million to a company that plans to build America's first recycling facility for lithium-ion vehicle batteries.

Lithium supplies for batteries are adequate. Read an excellent white paper produced in 2009 by Plug In America volunteers on this topic.

Lithium white paper (DOC) (PDF)

The U.S. electrical grid can handle millions of plug-ins today. There's already enough power in the system during off-peak hours (when cars get plugged in) to cover the daily commutes of the majority of U.S. drivers, according to a study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The time it takes to get that many plug-in vehicles on the road will give us time to plan for more energy efficiency and new renewable power sources. See our FAQ page too.

Electricity sources should emphasize clean renewable power. Plug-in vehicles already are cleaner than gasoline, even on today's electrical grid (see our FAQ page), but we can do better. Plug In America advocates for clean and sustainable vehicles. That includes the power used to run them. Read our thinking on coal, nuclear power, renewables, and more. Read more.

Biofuels in vehicles make the most sense as a backup to electricity. Creating enough biofuels to power all U.S. vehicles would severely damage the environment, food systems, and more. As a backup to electricity in plug-in hybrids, however, some biofuels might be feasible.

Natural gas vehicles don't stack up to plug-ins. We disagree with the "Pickens Plan" and other efforts emphasizing vehicles that run on natural gas alone, though natural gas might have a minor role as a secondary fuel in plug-in hybrids. Read our reasoning.

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (HFCVs) are not a realistic option in either the near-term or even medium-term, and are a high-stakes gamble in the long term. We shouldn't let the past, mistaken emphasis on HFCVs delay us from moving rapidly toward plug-in vehicles. For more on the hydrogen question, see our FAQ page.

We support safe medium-speed electric vehicles to expand consumer options. Five states have passed laws allowing less-expensive, low-speed Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) to go 30-35 mph instead of the 25-mph limit used elsewhere, yet don't require safety improvements. We've asked the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration to create standards for medium-speed EVs in order to protect consumers.

See our 2008 letter to NHTSA on MSEVs here: (DOC) (PDF)

We want gasoline-dependent vehicles converted to plug-ins safely and cleanly. Converting millions of gasoline-dependent cars and trucks to be able to plug in for electric power would be a good thing, if done right. Companies that convert conventional vehicles to plug-in vehicles or that sell conversion kits should certify that they've been crash-tested for safety and that they meet California Air Resources Board emissions standards, or better.

The time for new plug-in vehicles is now. Some of us have been driving EVs made by major automakers for more than 8 years and more than 100,000 miles per car. The technology is ready. We hear from countless people who want plug-in vehicles. The market is ready. No more excuses from automakers -- let's get new plug-in cars on the road ASAP.