July 19, 2021

No, a Facebook post does not show an electric car charging at a diesel-powered station

No, a Facebook post does not show an electric car charging at a diesel-powered station


A widely circulating Facebook post points to public charging stations as a glaring example of why electric cars are not as environmentally friendly as advertised.

The July 11 post includes a picture it identifies as an electric car charging station in Round Rock, Texas. The accompanying text claims electric cars are more inefficient because charging stations use diesel fuel generators to produce electricity.

“That 350kWh generator uses 12 gallons of diesel fuel per hour, and it takes three hours to fully charge a car to get 200 miles,” the text reads. “That’s 36 gallons for 200 Miles! 5.6 mpg.”

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. Instagram is owned by Facebook. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The charging station shown in the post is located at an outlet mall in Round Rock, an Austin suburb. However, the description of how it operates is wrong.

Electrify America, which operates the charging station, called the claim that it uses electricity derived from a diesel generator “absolutely false.”

“Our direct-current fast electric-vehicle charging station in Round Rock, Texas, is powered by Oncor Electric Delivery Company, one of the largest utility companies in the U.S.,” Mike Moran, a spokesperson for the company, said in an email.

Oncor distributes electricity across the Texas electric grid but doesn’t generate its own power. An Oncor spokesperson said it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of energy is used to power the Round Rock station — whether it’s derived from coal, nuclear, wind or solar energy.

Similar claims linking electric vehicles to diesel generators have circulated before. A July 1 post used much of the same text, but with a different image and without any mention of Texas. It claimed diesel charging stations are “popping up everywhere.”

The picture used in that post is actually of a diesel-powered charging station, but not anything like the public ones that are being installed around the country. This one was created as an experiment in 2018 in Australia to test the viability of using a diesel generator to charge a car in the desert.

Jon Edwards, the man who thought of the experiment, told The Driven he wanted to see whether charging with a diesel generator was viable, and how the fuel consumption for the generator compared with driving a similar-size diesel-powered car.

The experiment involved using the charger to charge 10 electric cars — most of them Teslas — for one hour each, and measuring how much energy was added to the battery during charging. Edwards used the lifetime averages for each car to convert that energy figure to an estimate of the added distance the car could travel after charging.

The experiment found that when charged this way, a BMW i3 was the most fuel-efficient of the electric cars, consuming 4.39 liters of fuel for every 100 kilometers of range added, equivalent to about 54 mpg. One Tesla model consumed around 7 liters of diesel fuel per 100 km of range, equivalent to about 34 mpg. 

Edwards’ experiment found that, in most instances, using the generator to charge a car consumed less fuel than a similarly sized diesel car would to travel the same distance. A diesel-fueled VW Touareg SUV, for example, used 7.2 liters of fuel per 100 km.

Our ruling

A Facebook post claims an electric car charging station in Texas runs on a diesel generator and that a car has to charge for three hours and use 12 gallons of diesel fuel to travel 200 miles. 

The company that owns the charging station pictured in the post says the station is connected to an electrical grid and does not use diesel fuel. Public chargers are generally connected to the local power supply and do not use diesel generators. 

We rate this claim False.





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