NPR coverage of EVs omits some important facts

Stephen Smith | November 23, 2011 | Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles

I sent the following letter to National Public Radio’s (NPR) Morning Edition, I got a form response.

It appears to be regular occurrence on NPR’s Morning Edition to say negative things about electric cars. NPR’s November 21st story focused on the negative aspects of electric vehicles (EVs) and failed to point out some important factual information that would be helpful to consumers evaluating EVs. First, the radio piece misrepresents Consumer Report’s review of the Nissan Leaf, saying “Consumer Reports tested the Leaf, saying it gets an average of about 65 miles on the charge.” Consumer Report’s review of the Leaf actually said, “Typically, we got about 75 miles from a full charge.” To put this number is context, most Americans do not drive more than 30 miles per day and that the Leaf easily meets that requirement. The average driving range of most Americans, a key metric, was not mentioned in the piece.

Sonari Glinton, author of the piece, also focused on EV charging times in a negative light, stating “… and right now it can take up to 16 hours depending on the type of outlet you use.” It would have been helpful to point out that there are three types of charging station being deployed, Level 1, 2, and 3. In a balanced story, he would have explained that Level 3 chargers will charge an EV in around 20 to 30 minutes and Level 2 charging stations can deliver a full charge in 4-6 hours. Typically charging will take place at night, allowing ample time for a full-charge with either of these options.

For more background on charging infrastructure, I encourage everyone to read about the developing success of the EV Project.

I love NPR’s show and I have come to expect better reporting. As a consumer who drives a Nissian Leaf and loves the car’s performance, I believe NPR’s listeners would benefit from better coverage of this emerging technology. I encourage people to contact NPR’s ombudsman or email NPR if you feel, like me, that their coverage of EVs has not been balanced.

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has over 35 years of experience affecting positive change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as…
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