Fact check: Trump makes false claims in SC about EVs as industry to invest billions in state

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, second from left, look on. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Former President Donald Trump mocked electric vehicles during his rally in Columbia on Saturday, saying they can travel barely 2 hours at a time.

Estimated ranges for many electric vehicle models tell a different story.

Trump held his invite-only event at the South Carolina State House to announce his 2024 leadership team. The rally was also his push to gather support in the state that holds the First in the South primary. However his speech, which included bashing of electric vehicles, comes as businesses in the EV industry have announced billions of dollars in investment in South Carolina and the state has pushed to help grow EV adoption.

“The cars go for like two hours,” Trump said of electric vehicles. “What are you going to do? Everyone’s going to be sitting on the highway. We’re all going to be looking for a little plug-in. It’s ridiculous.”

EV travel distance

The automotive industry has made big strides in improving battery technology and extending the range of electric vehicles in recent years. The current average range of electric vehicles is about 211 miles, according to the Electric Vehicle Database, an organization independent of the auto industry that gathers real-world data on electric vehicles. The average range of gas-powered vehicles is just over 400 miles, the U.S. Department of Energy states.

However, there are still dozens of electric vehicle models on the market that can travel between 300 and even 400 miles on a single charge, Electric Vehicle Database statistics show.

For instance, the Tesla Model S Plaid has an estimated range of 396 miles, according to Tesla. Also, Hyundai recently announced the IONIQ 6, which will have an estimated 360 miles on a single charge and is expected to launch this spring. You might have seen the commercial below for the vehicle staring Kevin Bacon during the Bengals and Chiefs game on Sunday.

South Carolina EV expansion

Several businesses in the EV industry have announced billions of dollars in investments in South Carolina in recent months. Among those is BMW, which announced a $1.7 billion investment to shift its Spartanburg facility toward building six electric vehicle models there by 2030. Envison Automotive Energy Supply Co., a Japanese-based company, announced it will build an $810 million facility in Florence County to make battery cells for BMW.

And Redwood Materials in December announced it will build a $3.5 billion facility and generate 1,500 jobs in Berkeley County to recycle battery materials to be reused in electric vehicles. It’s the state’s largest single economic development deal.

Meanwhile Gov. Henry McMaster, who stood with Trump on Saturday as part of his South Carolina leadership team, has worked with other state officials to try and grow EV adoption in the state by examining charging station expansion.

McMaster has tasked a group of state agencies to determine how many more charging stations are needed in the state and where to place them. The state has 432 charging stations as of June 2022, a report from the energy office in the Office of Regulatory Staff shows.