Robert Llewellyn Debunks Battery "Nonsense" & Hydrogen Myths (Video)

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Image credit: Fully Charged

Earlier today I posted about The Guardian's response to the Top Gear Nissan LEAF road test. While the BBC's running-out-of-juice stunt had Nissan upset, The Guardian felt like Top Gear was actually, on balance, pretty positive about the Nissan LEAF as a real, well designed car. Now Robert Llewellyn has waded into the debate—and while he tries to stay clear of another trashing (he was previously pretty angry about Top Gear's deceptive Tesla review)—he does take on a lot of the myths that are floating around about electric cars, from battery life to running costs to the elusive promise of a hydrogen economy.

It's well worth watching.

As he freely admits, Llewellyn has been known to get wound up in the past. So it's good to see a spirited but calm defense of electric vehicle technology, most notably when he takes on the idea that battery life and the cost of battery replacement make EVs nonviable. As he points out, batteries do not break down suddenly and become obsolete, nor are they "used up" and thrown away, but rather they lose their full capacity over about 100,000 - 150,000 miles—the kind of mileage that usually results in some pretty major maintenance costs on a conventional vehicle too.

Crucially, Llewellyn also explains that battery capacity is not simply "lost" forever, but can largely be recovered through careful refurbishing that reuses 96% of the materials in the original battery. Sure, batteries still involve some resource- and energy-intensive infrastructure, and the extraction of lithium is not without its own environmental impacts. But as this show so aptly argues, many of the scare stories currently circulating around electric cars are based simply on the fact that they are a new, unfamiliar technology.

Kudos to Llewellyn for making the concept of electric cars just a little easier to grasp.

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