claim: Electric Vehicles (EVs) are unpopular, unaffordable and unsafe.

fact: EVs are selling fast, saving consumers money, creating jobs and are just as safe as the average gas-fueled vehicle.

  • 155,000 Americans were employed by suppliers of clean and efficient vehicle components in 2011. (Source: NRDC/NWF/UAW, http://bit.ly/q0i8kI)
  • More than 501,369 electric drive vehicles – hybrids, extended range and battery – have been purchased in the U.S. so far this year. That’s over 1,582 per day. (Source: Electric Drive Transportation Association, http://bit.ly/NFjm5e)
  • There are eight models of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles that retail for under $32,000. (Source: Media Matters, http://bit.ly/HN06Vy, http://engt.co/R6dmHv, http://bit.ly/OKTEB4). By comparison, the average price of a car purchased in the United States in April 2012 was approximately $30,000. (Source: True Car, http://bit.ly/PLVmzl)
  • Maintenance costs for electric drive vehicles are as much as 50% lower than traditional gasoline vehicles, thanks to fewer fluids to change, significantly reduced brake wear due to regenerative braking, and far fewer moving parts. (Source: Center for Automotive Research, http://bit.ly/L07he8 and US Department of Energy, http://bit.ly/QBLmGY)
  • By 2020, it could be cheaper to own an electric vehicle than a traditional gas-powered car. If average gas prices are at or over $3.50/gal in the U.S., manufacturers will be able to offer even more cost-competitive electric vehicles once battery prices hit just $250/kilowatt before 2020. This could happen sooner if gas prices – currently at $3.70/gal – continue to spike. (Source: McKinsey & Company, http://bit.ly/NhMhMR)
  • The LA Times published a mea culpa after running a story that misstated the facts about electric vehicles. When the author admitted his mistake, he noted, “…in terms of cumulative ownership costs, the Leaf is pretty much even with the Mini, Focus, Prius and Civic until after five years, when it starts to surpass them all.”(Source: Los Angeles Times, http://lat.ms/PlXZvQ)
  • The price of batteries—a key component of EV cost—could fall 66% by 2020. According to McKinsey & Co., battery costs “could fall from $500 to $600 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2012 to about $200/kWh by 2020 and to about $160/kWh by 2025.”(Source: McKinsey & Company, http://bit.ly/T1qXQX)
  • The U.S. military is embracing electric vehicles – The Army is placing electric vehicles at more than 40 installations and the DOD aims to integrate about 1,500 road-capable electric vehicles over the next few years. (Source: Stars and Stripes, http://bit.ly/SiJHuf )
  • “The Department of Energy, with strong bipartisan support, awarded $2 billion in grants to 29 companies to build or retool 45 manufacturing facilities spread across 20 states to build advanced batteries, engines, drive trains and other key components for electric vehicles. More than 30 of these plants are already in operation, employing thousands of American workers, and our grants were matched dollar for dollar (or more) by private investments.”(Source: Department of Energy: http://1.usa.gov/REqXCX)
  • The advanced battery market is expanding dramatically in the United States and around the world — from $5 billion in 2010 to nearly $50 billion in 2020, an average annual growth rate of roughly 25 percent.(Source: US Department of Energy: http://1.usa.gov/REqXCX)
  • Concerns about vehicle range are exaggerated: the Telsa Model S is capable of travelling 250 miles per charge. (That’s Boston to New York with roughly 50 miles to spare.) For reference, in 2009 the average American traveled 28.97 miles in a vehicle per day. (Source: Green Car Congress, http://bit.ly/MGLNRN and US Department of Transportation, http://1.usa.gov/T1ErI4)
  • EVs are safe.  According to the National Fire Protection Agency, there were an estimated 184,500 conventional highway vehicle fires in 2010, and 31,000 other non-highway vehicle (equipment) fires.  In the extremely rare incidents where a fire has involved an EV, no findings of any relationship to the electric drive components have been found.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thoroughly examined the safety of EVs in accidents and found no real-world electric vehicle crashes that resulted in battery-related fires. (Source: National Fire Protection Agency, http://bit.ly/N3fEBG; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, http://1.usa.gov/TJJ5xC)
  • Electric vehicles have to pass the same rigorous safety tests as conventional vehicles. There are also special safety tests for the batteries and battery-casing used in electric vehicles. (U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center, http://1.usa.gov/QBLmGY)

claim: Solyndra is an example of “crony capitalism.”

fact: Despite months of investigations, there is no evidence of political favoritism in the Solyndra loan guarantee process.

  1. A Washington Post analysis found that “The [email] records do not establish that anyone pressured the Energy Department to approve the Solyndra loan to benefit political contributors.” (http://wapo.st/twg2ug)
  2. A Bloomberg Government analysis concluded that the “focus on Solyndra is not proportional to its impact.” (http://bit.ly/rCXgZP)
  3. Loan guarantees have a long history in the United States, and have been used to support many of America’s critical industries, including housing, transportation and agriculture. (http://bit.ly/uV14lf)

To learn more, see our Energy Issues pages on Jobs, Cost and Deployment.

claim: Solyndra is proof that solar energy – or renewable energy generally – is a bad idea.

fact: The failure of one company, or even a few companies, does not represent the industry as whole. Clean and renewable energy as a sector faces domestic and global challenges – as do many businesses – but the sector is strong and growing.

  1. Solyndra was not a typical solar company. It made a more advanced device that, in the face of falling prices for traditional solar panels, was not price competitive. Like many companies in many different industries, Solyndra faced significant challenges from global market forces. (Source: CNN, http://cnnmon.ie/LBryTy)
  2. In 2011, U.S. solar photovoltaic installations grew by over 100%; the value of the systems installed in 2011 alone was more than $8.5 billion. (Source: Solar Energy Industries Association, http://slidesha.re/AuCU8p)
  3. Since 2011, the price of photovoltaic solar panels has fallen by 60%. (Source: SEIA, http://bit.ly/LaOjNf)
  4. The U.S. solar industry employs over 100,000 people. (Source: The Solar Foundation, http://bit.ly/qvk7fH).
  5. Analysts predict that over the next decade, $800 billion – $1.2 trillion will be invested in the solar industry globally. (Source: McKinsey & Company, http://bit.ly/InVamF)

claim: The electric vehicle industry is failing – sales are low and companies are closing their doors.

fact: The electric vehicle industry in the United States is selling to a growing market.

  1. So far in 2012, more than 150,000 electric drive vehicles – hybrids, extended range and battery – have been purchased in the United States. That’s about 1,000 a day. (Source: Electric Drive Transportation Association, http://bit.ly/JJXV0w)
  2. 155,000 Americans were employed by suppliers of clean and efficient vehicle components in 2011. (Source: NRDC/NWF/UAW, http://bit.ly/q0i8kI)
  3. There are six models of electric and hybrid vehicles that retail for under $32,000. (Source: Media Matters, http://bit.ly/HN06Vy). By comparison, the average price of a car purchased in the United States in April 2012 was approximately $30,000. (Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, http://bit.ly/IRrlzp)

claim: The Section 1603 program is bad policy.

fact: The Section 1603 program successfully addressed a significant market failure during the financial crisis, the effects of which are still felt in key equity markets, and leveraged billions of dollars of private capital for projects across the United States. In doing so, the program is also supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

  1. A recent analysis found that since its inception in 2009, the 1603 program has created approximately 115,000 jobs in the United States. (Source: US Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance, http://bit.ly/KY3b4C)
  2. The 1603 program supported between 52,000 and 75,000 construction and installation jobs each year in 2009, 2010 and 2011. (Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, http://1.usa.gov/Idmhyt)
  3. The NREL study also found that the program supported 43,000-66,000 jobs in the manufacturing and associated supply-chain sectors each year from 2009-2011. (Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, http://1.usa.gov/Idmhyt)

claim: The DOE Loan Guarantee Program is bad policy.

fact: The Loan Guarantee Program is working at a lower level of risk than its bipartisan creators in Congress expected. While a small number of companies that received loan guarantees have not made it, the program has proven even more effective than anticipated – even when you take Solyndra into account.

  1. The Loan Guarantee Program was created in 2005 with bipartisan support under the George W. Bush administration and designed to provide government support for “innovative technologies.” (Source: CNNMoney, http://cnnmon.ie/LBryTy)
  2. 87 % of the $16.1 billion in DOE loan guarantees is backing 18 power generation projects, which have a low risk of default because they were required to have buyers for their power output. (Source: Bloomberg Government, http://bit.ly/rCXgZP)
  3. Congress appropriated a pool of funds to cover any losses from the program. 95% of that money is still available to cover any potential future losses. (Source: CNNMoney, http://cnnmon.ie/LBryTy)
  4. Solyndra represented less than 3%of the DOE’s entire portfolio of loan guarantees. (Source: Bloomberg, http://bit.ly/rvXb60)
  5. A number of large private investors also had invested in Solyndra. For instance, the second-largest private investor was a fund controlled by the Walton family. (Source: National Journal, http://bit.ly/qemtF5)

claim: State-level Renewable Portfolio Standards significantly raise electricity prices.

fact: No, they don’t. They help harness the nation’s abundant domestic renewable resources and diversify the energy mix – and recent research shows no significant effect on prices.

  1. The presence of a state-level Renewable Portfolio Standard had virtually no statistically-significant impact on changes in electric rates from 2000 to 2010. (Source: Center for American Progress, http://bit.ly/HpCGkA)
  2. Adding more wind power to the electric grid could reduce wholesale market prices by more than 25%in the Midwest by 2020. (Source: Renewable Energy World, http://bit.ly/L0aet7)

claim: Clean and renewable energy are just for the “coasts” – not the South or Midwest.

fact: Clean, renewable energy is being produced and is supporting jobs in every region of the country, including many regions not traditionally associated with clean energy.

  1. The 5 states that receive the highest percentage of their electricity from wind power are all in the Midwest: Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Kansas. (Source: AWEA, http://bit.ly/11RHxmh)
  2. A recent study showed that adding more wind to the grid could save Midwestern households between $65 and $200 each year. (Source: Synapse Energy Economics / ACEG, http://bit.ly/JDVPUZ)
  3. 3 of the U.S.’s 5 most productive wind farms are in Texas. (Source: AWEA, http://bit.ly/165i3XY)
  4. American bio-fuel production saved the Midwest $1.69 per gallon of gasoline in 2012. (Source: The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, http://bit.ly/Kdoudi)
  5. Arizona is second in the U.S. in terms of solar electric capacity. Nevada and Colorado are fourth and fifth, respectively. (Source: Solar Energy Industry Associates, http://bit.ly/11v1bWg)
  6. 16 states get more than 10% of their electricity from renewable resources. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, http://bit.ly/HtQ38b)
  7. The country’s top 10 hydropower producing states include Arizona, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee. (Source: National Hydropower Association, http://bit.ly/Ign5VJ)
  8. Nearly 1,000 companies in the South and Rustbelt states are part of the U.S. hydropower industry’s supply chain. (Source: National Hydropower Association, http://bit.ly/Ign5VJ)

To learn more, see our Energy Issues page on Costs.