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Debunking 10 myths about electric vehicles

Debunking 10 myths about electric vehicles
HolistiQ Roadmap Research Team -

HolistiQ Roadmap Research Team

Several misunderstandings about electric vehicles (EVs) remain in circulation even as the popularity of this transformative technology grows. We debunk 10 of the most common misconceptions using analysis based on science, engineering and market research to illuminate some of the real benefits EVs offer as a clean technology today.

  • One of the most common arguments against EVs is that the manufacturing process is polluting. To debunk this myth, we need to understand the two phases in the automotive sector that produce carbon emissions: the ‘manufacturing phase’ and the ‘use phase’ (owning and driving the vehicle). While it is true that the emissions during the manufacturing phase of an EV are higher than those of a petrol or diesel car that use an internal combustion engine (ICE), the reality is that 75% of total emissions originate from fossil-fuel combustion during the use phase. Therefore, we must measure the emissions of a vehicle during its entire lifecycle: manufacturing and use phases combined. These are called ‘lifecycle emissions’.
    EVs have no tailpipe emissions and, therefore, the higher emissions generated during their manufacturing phase are quickly offset during their use phase. How quickly these emissions are offset during the use phase depends on how clean the electricity grid is during the production and charging of the EVs’ batteries. For example, in Norway the grid is fully renewable, while in China electricity generation largely relies on coal. That said, even if the battery is produced in China and the car is charged on a carbon-intensive electricity grid such as in Poland, a battery-powered electric vehicle is still 37% cleaner than a petrol-powered or ICE vehicle. 

    An EV charged on the European grid is approximately 70% cleaner than the equivalent petrol car. In the best-case scenario, where both the battery production and charging use the cleanest electricity grid, a medium-sized EV is roughly 83% cleaner than a petrol car. Furthermore, with modern battery manufacturing techniques, the emissions from battery manufacturing could be reduced by two-thirds, creating an electric vehicle that’s some 95% cleaner than combustion vehicles. 

  • Arguing that the electricity used to charge batteries pollutes implies that the electricity grid will never decarbonise. The reality is that the electricity mix – or the proportion of electricity generation sources like coal, gas, nuclear or renewables – has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and, as the market is already proving, will likely be further transformed over the next 20 years.

    Increasingly, new generation favours renewables. In 2021, 86% of all new electricity generation capacity came from renewables alone. Similarly, in 2022 global low-carbon energy technology investment exceeded USD 1 trillion for the first time. Also for the first time, more capital is being allocated into renewables than upstream oil and gas, including brownfield and greenfield investments, but excluding exploration. This has resulted in renewable grids and storage now accounting for more than 80% of total power sector investment. As such, investments in solar panels and wind are growing at rates consistent with the global net-zero emissions target of 2050. There is irrefutable evidence that the electricity grid is decarbonising, and that the electricity used to charge an EV will only become cleaner with each passing year.

    Unfortunately, many studies showing high EV emissions assume a static energy mix view wherein the EV always runs on the electricity mix it used in its first year. This is understandable since it makes calculations easier and avoids having to defend assumptions about the evolution of the electricity mix. However, this reasoning is also deeply unrealistic. It fails to reflect the direction of travel towards renewable electricity generation.

  • While any human rights violation is unacceptable, its occurrence within the EV value chain should be understood in context. The main controversial mineral in EV batteries is cobalt: one of the minerals used in a component of EV batteries. Around 70% of cobalt today comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the track record of human rights protection and public governance is poor. Most of the human rights breaches with regard to cobalt extraction in the DRC have been observed from so-called artisanal mining practices; however, only 15% of all cobalt from the DRC is mined through artisanal methods.

    While the dependence on the DRC for cobalt mining is expected to continue, carmakers are progressively reducing and even eliminating cobalt from batteries altogether to avoid reputational risks. New battery chemistries that either use a minimal amount of cobalt or no cobalt altogether, such as lithium iron phosphate (LFP), batteries are being developed at scale today. To reflect this, leading forecasters such as Bloomberg NEF have been meaningfully reducing their cobalt demand forecast. The latest forecast for 2030 sees cobalt demand shrinking by 50% compared to what was projected in 2019, with guidance expected to further reduce over time.

  • Substantial negative press surrounds the amount of mining required to deliver the energy transition. Six times more mining is required to manufacture an EV than an ICE car because of the metals within the battery. Despite this, significantly more mining is required to use an ICE car over its entire lifespan because it burns fossil fuels that are ephemeral and single use: once burned, they become smoke that goes into the atmosphere, create pollution, and cannot be reused. Manufacturing an EV, on the other hand, requires minerals on a one-off basis to produce its battery, but no on-going fossil fuel burning to generate the motive power that propels the vehicle forward1. For example, an EV requires on average 160 kg of transition minerals to build its battery system compared to the 12,800 kg of petrol burned by an ICE car over its lifespan – that makes the ICE car 80 times more material-intensive than the EV.

    This manufacturing phase versus use phase phenomenon is true across several sectors. As a result, we estimate that a fossil-fuel-based economy requires 27 times more materials mining than a clean-energy economy when including all energy-dependent sectors such as electricity generation, transport, buildings and industry. A clean-technology economy based on renewables and EVs requires considerably less mining than the current fossil-fuel-based economy.

  • The sticker price of an EV today is higher than a conventional petrol or diesel car. In 2022, the median price of an EV in western markets was on average 45% to 50% higher than a conventional ICE car, and 10% more expensive in China where the cars are smaller. 

    These higher sticker prices are set to decrease, however. The benefits of economies of scale in EV manufacturing are just starting. In 2022, around 10 million EVs were produced relative to almost 60 million ICE cars.  With more scale, Wright’s Law predicts that for every cumulative doubling of units produced – in this case EVs – costs will fall by a constant percentage. While some people may find Wright’s Law too theoretical, it has proven strikingly accurate predicting the Ford Model T cost declines in early 20th century and, more recently, the Tesla Model 32

    Wright’s Law has also predicted the cost decline of batteries remarkably well: costs have been dropping consistently at about 17% every year since 2010 as cumulative battery capacity doubled. For this reason, some carmakers are already expecting EVs to reach sticker-price parity with their ICE models as early as 2025. Some new EV prices are falling even more quickly: the upcoming BYD Seagull, a Chinese compact, will be priced from USD 9,0003.

    The most important metric to understand the true cost of a vehicle, however, is not the sticker price but rather the total cost of ownership (TCO). The TCO is a cost assessment metric that factors in different cost items like the vehicle sticker price, fuel costs, maintenance costs, depreciation, taxes and financing, to provide a like-for-like comparison of similar products that use different technologies over the span of their ownership. EVs are 80% energy efficient relative to only about 20% efficiency of ICE cars, meaning EVs require less energy to travel the same distance – this translates into marked savings over the lifetime of the vehicle. In addition, as EVs have far fewer moving parts than an ICE vehicle (20 moving parts vs 2,000 moving parts), they require meaningfully less maintenance over time.

    As a result, the overwhelming majority of technological and economic studies conclude that EVs represent the lowest TCO to a consumer4 when compared to fossil-fuel and alternative zero-emission powertrains across geographies and vehicle weights 5 6 7 8 9. Moreover, in 2022, electric two- and three-wheelers in countries like India and China already had a lower TCO than their ICE equivalents. In countries with subsidies, a passenger EV is already cheaper to own than the ICE alternative and in countries without incentives, this milestone is expected to be achieved by 202510 11. In addition, as ICE ban deadlines approach across geographies, fear of a rapid depreciation of ICE vehicles is likely to influence consumers purchasing their next vehicle.

  • There are well over 10 million EVs on the world’s roads already, and there is no evidence to suggest their lifespans are any different from a petrol or diesel vehicle. Most EV batteries have warranties of around 8 years or 100,000 miles but are expected to last much longer and their lifespan continues to improve. 

  • EV batteries are already being recycled for economic reasons because the battery metals are valuable and because regulations require automakers to take responsibility for their spent batteries12. This is not necessarily a new development, as 90% of the lead-acid starter batteries in today’s ICE cars are already recycled for the same reasons.

    Currently, automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) outsource the recycling of EV batteries by paying disposal companies to take scrap or end-of-life batteries, thus entirely transferring ownership of the battery. For instance, Volkswagen has entered into a partnership with Redwood Materials in the US, and General Motors with Li-Cycle and Cirba Solutions13 14.

    However, challenges remain for the sector. A lack of standardisation means different battery pack designs and chemistries – either simply lithium or a combination of lithium, cobalt and nickel – make the identification and processing of the batteries for recycling difficult. Upcoming regulation will undoubtedly require car and battery OEMs to standardise designs and chemistries to facilitate recycling.

    Presently, the predominant challenge is the low availability of batteries to recycle. Most batteries recycled today come from consumer electronics like smartphones as the EVs currently on the road will still take 10-15 years to reach their end of life. Even when EVs reach their end of life, their batteries might still have a second life as storage for home energy or as storage for other modes of transport like motorbikes, e-bikes or boats. The repurposing of these batteries further lengthens the amount of time before those EV batteries can be recycled and metals can be extracted from them. Because of this supply chain reality, and given the exponential growth of EVs, we estimate that only 3% of EV battery demand will be covered by recycled batteries in 2030.

  • EV batteries already have more than enough range for average daily use without needing a top-up charge. The vast majority of daily trips made in passenger cars globally are less than 45 km, therefore, the range of an average EV is more than sufficient.

    From a technological perspective, the average EV range has been steadily increasing since 2010 at 20% per year to reach an average of 350 km in 2021 as seen in the Hyundai IONIQ 5 a mid-priced hatchback15.

    Consumer hesitation remains over long distance trips, but fast charging is progressing and new EV models promise an 80% charge in under 20 minutes. As such, the priorities for carmakers and consumers will likely shift from how long a single charge lasts to how fast it takes to charge. The fastest charging EV today can charge up to 80% of the battery in under 15 minutes while some start-ups are targeting a full battery charge in under 5 minutes16 17.

  • EVs are superior to plug-in hybrids as well as hydrogen cars because EVs pollute less and are more efficient.

    Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars harm the environment, polluting 5-7 times more than advertised by carmakers. Studies demonstrate that only about 50% of the kilometres driven by PHEV cars are driven in the electric mode and, moreover, only about 15% of the kilometres driven by PHEV company cars are driven in the electric mode. In contrast, the official WLTP approval procedure for carmakers assumes the share of driving in the electric mode is around 70%–85% of kilometres – this figure is then used to advertise the emission efficiency of these vehicles, giving consumers a warped impression of their climate impact. Policymakers are aware of this reality and PHEVs, not using an e-fuel, will be banned in 2035 in the European Union (EU).

    Hydrogen cars are less efficient than EVs – only 33% of the energy used is transformed into power at the wheels, while EVs transform 77% – and the cost of hydrogen is generally higher than electricity on an energy basis. Consequently, the overwhelming majority of techno-economic studies conclude that EVs have a lower TCO when compared to fossil-fuel and hydrogen-powered vehicles, across geographies, and vehicle weights18 19 20 21 22 23.          

    The car market has clearly reflected this reality since both EVs and hydrogen cars were introduced on a commercial basis. Since 2010, more than 27 million EVs have been sold compared to only 56,000 hydrogen fuel cell cars. Even the automakers most vocally in favour of hydrogen cars have pivoted their product launches to EVs. 

    Building hydrogen infrastructure is expensive. While the capital cost of an ultra-fast charging DC station for EVs can be up to USD 300,000, the cost of a hydrogen refuelling station can be about USD 2 million24. In addition, the distribution cost of hydrogen to refill the infrastructure can be prohibitive due to the nature of hydrogen: its low volumetric energy density means that to supply the same energy as one diesel tanker truck, 11 tanker trucks of hydrogen are required25.

    Furthermore, the environmental footprint of hydrogen cars is also questionable. While the electricity grid is rapidly decarbonising26, around 96% of global hydrogen production is still produced through fossil fuels like gas and coal.

    Lastly, the use of hydrogen in heavy-duty freight transport would incur higher upfront and fuel costs than EVs – mostly resulting from energy inefficiency – making its use unlikely27 28. According to Bloomberg NEF, this cost persists even in scenarios where fuel-cell trucks receive heavy policy support and battery electric trucks receive none29. There is anecdotal evidence of the cost disadvantage causing truck and logistics operators to not choose hydrogen trucks today.

  • According to research teams and engineers at multiple US energy laboratories, the acceleration of EV adoption will not reach any sort of ‘tipping point’ at which charging EVs will overwhelm the electrical grid. Experts state that the entire electric utility sector is well aware of this imminent electrical load and is adapting daily to support a future dominated by EVs. In the US, electricity demand could jump 25% if the country’s entire fleet of 290 million cars and trucks went electric overnight, but that won’t realistically happen. In the UK, even if all vehicles became EVs overnight, electricity demand would only increase by around 10%.

Leading clean technology

The world is transitioning to a CLIC® model30 that operates within and helps restore planetary boundaries. Systemic change is already occurring within energy, nature and materials systems. The shift to EVs encompasses several significant themes, including electrification and the climate transition. Exposure to this leading example of clean technology can be accessed in key LOIM strategies such as Future Electrification, Planetary Transition, and Transition Materials. 


1  This assumes that little fossil fuels are used to generate the electricity to charge the battery, but even if the electricity is derived completely from coal, coal power plants are 34-47% efficient vs. the 12-30% of an ICE engine. All-Electric Vehicles ( Sustainability | Free Full-Text | Advanced Ultra-Supercritical Coal-Fired Power Plant with Post-Combustion Carbon Capture: Analysis of Electricity Penalty and CO2 Emission Reduction (
Wright’s Law Predicted 109 Years of Autos Gross Margin, and Now Tesla’s ( Any reference to a specific company or security does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or directly invest in the company or securities. It should not be assumed that the recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities discussed in this document.
BYD to launch affordable electric hatchback in China - Any reference to a specific company or security does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or directly invest in the company or securities. It should not be assumed that the recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities discussed in this document.
 4 The TCO is a cost assessment metric that ponders the cost of different cost items like the vehicle upfront price, fuel costs, maintenance costs, depreciation, taxes and financing to provide a like-for-like comparison of similar products that use different technologies Total Cost of Ownership | Transport & Environment (
Executive summary – Global EV Outlook 2022 – Analysis - IEA
6  BNEF EV Outlook 2022
7 Why the future involves e-mobility | McKinsey
Efuels in cars briefing (
BNEF Long Form Template (Grid) (
10  Why the future involves e-mobility | McKinsey
11  DI_Electric-Vehicles.pdf (
12  For example, the EU’s End-of-Life Vehicles Directive mandates auto OEMs to take back vehicle owners’ end-of-life batteries Council adopts new regulation on batteries and waste batteries - Consilium (
13  Any reference to a specific company or security does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or directly invest in the company or securities. It should not be assumed that the recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities discussed in this document.
14  National Recycling Rate Study - Battery Council International
15  Evolution of average range of electric vehicles by powertrain, 2010-2021 – Charts – Data & Statistics - IEA. Any reference to a specific company or security does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or directly invest in the company or securities. It should not be assumed that the recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities discussed in this document.
16  XPeng claims its G9 SUV is the world's fastest charging EV | Engadget
17  A 5-minute EV charging startup raises $59 million | Electrek
18  The TCO is a cost assessment metric that ponders the cost of different cost items like the vehicle upfront price, fuel costs, maintenance costs, depreciation, taxes and financing to provide a like-for-like comparison of similar products that use different technologies Total Cost of Ownership | Transport & Environment (
19  Executive summary – Global EV Outlook 2022 – Analysis - IEA
20  BNEF EV Outlook 2022
21  Why the future involves e-mobility | McKinsey
22  Efuels in cars briefing (
23  BNEF Long Form Template (Grid) (
24  RMI-EV-Charging-Infrastructure-Costs.pdf
DOE Hydrogen Program Record 21002: Hydrogen Fueling Stations Cost (

25  BofA Webinar, Colin McKerracher, BNEF, Feb 16th  2023
26  12% of global electricity supply comes from wind and solar, and when you add nuclear and hydropower around 38% of global electricity is zero emissions. Electricity Mix - Our World in Data Global Electricity Review 2023 | Ember (
27  Decarbonising Europe’s Trucks: How to Minimise Cost Uncertainty (
28  Hydrogen technology is unlikely to play a major role in sustainable road transport | Nature Electronics
29  BNEF EV Outlook 2022, Pg 95
30  CLIC stands for circular, lean, inclusive and clean.


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