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A 2018 photo of an electric vehicle charging station powered by a diesel fuel generator was part of a test by an Australian to see whether it would work for EV drivers in remote areas without a network of charging stations.
Most EV drivers in the U.S. recharge their vehicles at home or at a growing network of charging stations across the country.
A 2018 photo of an electric vehicle charging station powered by a diesel fuel generator is popping up on social media again, with users claiming it shows the hypocrisy of environmentally focused drivers.
"Electric charger powered by diesel generator," read a Feb. 25 Facebook post showing a photo of an electric vehicle charging station. "We are the stupidest species on the planet," the post’s caption read.
"Your EV … vehicles are not saving the planet," read another.
The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
(Screenshot from Facebook)
The photo does show an electric charging station that is powered by a diesel generator, but it leaves out key context and gives the impression that such stations are common.
The charging station in the photo was created by Jon Edwards, an Australian, in 2018. He combined an electric vehicle charger from a company called Tritium with a diesel generator. PolitiFact mentioned him in a similar fact check in 2021 after reading about his story in the Australian electric vehicle news site The Driven.
Edwards told The Driven in 2018 that his goal was to test whether such a station could be a temporary solution for electric vehicle drivers traveling long distances in remote locations, and how fuel consumption compared with diesel-fueled vehicles.
The test, as described in a post on the Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia website, showed that "a stand alone DC EV-charging skid powered by diesel generator for remote locations with inadequate power delivers fuel consumption results are very comparable but on most occasions better than equivalent diesel powered passenger vehicles."
Edwards told The Driven in 2021 that he got "hammered on social media" for using a diesel-powered generator, so instead looked into using vegetable oil waste, instead of diesel fuel.
There are diesel fuel-powered EV charging stations available in the U.S. — Larson Electronics sells one for about $236,000. It describes it as "a portable fast charging station for temporary sites and remote areas."
It’s also possible to charge your EV with a smaller gas-powered portable generator, but those may not be compatible with every vehicle, according to EV Connect, a company that makes EV charging management software .
"Diesel generator-powered EV charging stations would not be a typical or everyday application, but they can play a niche role for emergency, temporary, or extreme circumstances where the grid is down or a particular location is difficult to connect to the power system," said Jeremy Michalek, director of the Carnegie Mellon Vehicle Electrification Group, which studies issues related to hybrid and plug-in vehicles.
Most EV drivers, Michalek and the U.S. Department of Energy said, charge their vehicles by plugging in overnight at home. There, they can use a standard 120-volt wall outlet or install more-powerful charging equipment.
Others recharge at public charging stations along highways or at businesses. There are also 50,737 public EV charging stations available in the U.S., according to the department’s data. But there are more charging stations coming.
All forms of charging use energy created by whatever source fuels the local power grid.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill President Joe Biden signed into law in November 2021 provided about $7.5 billion to build a nationwide network of 500,000 EV charging stations. Tesla, meanwhile, agreed to make at least 7,500 of its high-speed charging stations available to non-Tesla vehicles, the White House said this month.
The effort to build new EV infrastructure is for grid-powered charging stations, said Michalek.
Facebook posts claim that a photo showing an electric vehicle charging station powered by a diesel fuel generator shows the hypocrisy of the EV movement.
But the station was created as a test by an Australian man to see whether such a setup was a solution for EV drivers in remote areas there. He has since changed the fuel source to vegetable oil waste instead of gas for other charging stations he created.
It is possible to charge electric vehicles with a gasoline-powered generator, but that’s not how most drivers in the U.S. do so. Most people simply plug into an outlet at home overnight, the Department of Energy said. Others recharge at public charging stations across the country.
While the posts share a real photo, they ignore critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate them Mostly False.
Facebook post, Feb. 25, 2023
Facebook post, Feb. 27, 2023
Facebook post, Feb. 28, 2023
The Driven, "Using diesel to charge EVs in the outback is greener than you think," Dec. 17, 2018
The Driven, "How biodiesel EV chargers could connect remote locations," Jan. 15, 2021
Tesla Owners Club, Western Australia, "EV charging with diesel powered ChargePod skid – a solution for locations with inadequate power," Dec. 11, 2018
Email interview, Jeremy Michalek, director of the Carnegie Mellon Vehicle Electrification Group, Feb. 28, 2023
U.S. Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, "Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locations" accessed Feb. 28, 2023
U.S. Department of Energy, "Charging Electric Vehicles at Home"
U.S. News & World Report, "A Comprehensive Guide to U.S. EV Charging Networks," Jan 4, 2023
EV Adept, "How to charge a Tesla or an EV with a generator?"
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