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Homefact-checkFact Check: Donald Trump's Theories About Electric Vehicles

Fact Check: Donald Trump’s Theories About Electric Vehicles

Donald Trump has long maintained misleading and inaccurate beliefs about the effects of climate change and efforts to halt it, rolling back nearly 100 environmental rules and regulations during his presidency.

The former president has made multiple false claims on the topic, having previously called climate change “a hoax.”

During a recent campaign speech in Iowa, Trump shared more dubious theories and ideas, offering his thoughts on environmentally friendly electric vehicles and what he believed to be their inefficiencies.

The Claim

At a speech in Ottumwa, Iowa, on Sunday, October 1, 2023, Trump claimed that “all-electric” boats had “batteries [that] are so heavy that the boat can’t carry them, they would sink.”

Trump also claimed during the same speech that electric cars can only drive for “a half hour” before they need a “recharge.”

The Facts

It’s not clear whether Trump’s claims here are sincere or glib. If they are the former, there is little evidence to support him.

During the speech, Trump made a number of claims about electric vehicles, suggesting their batteries often dwarfed the vehicles themselves.He then recalled a conversation with a boat manufacturer whom he said had told him about the push toward producing exclusively electric vehicles.

Trump claimed that any vessel with a moderate running time would require a battery that would cover the entire boat.

It is true that electric boats are heavier than their combustion engine counterparts due to the size of the battery, a fact that is recognized within the industry. Swedish electric boat manufacturer Candela said in 2022 that while weight is saved by a reduction in moving parts, electric boats tend to be heavier because of their batteries.

Of course that doesn’t mean the batteries pose a risk to safety or from sinking. Although current technology may limit the length of the journey, there are already sizable commercial vessels available that use an electric-battery engine.

Cardiff University professor Peter Wells, a published expert on electric vehicle technology, told Newsweek that while some deeper sea exploration was beyond the capability of battery-alone seafaring, there were huge electric vessels in operation.

“So, the biggest batteries for ships in use are in Norway, used in ferries,” Wells said. “The Bastø Electric is 139.2-metre-long and 21-metre-wide and was built by the Turkish Sefine Shipyard and has room for 600 passengers and 200 cars or 24 trucks. It is for relatively short trips at present.

“So it is unlikely with current technology that a deep sea vessel could use batteries alone, but many other applications are viable.”

In any case, there isn’t any evidence that the weight of an electric battery could sink or otherwise endanger a seafaring vessel.

Trump’s claim that electric cars can travel only a half-hour before requiring a recharge needs examination, too. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, most EV vehicles can travel more than 200 miles on a fully charged battery.

The U.K. government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles says that the battery range for EV vehicles is at least 100 miles, with some models able to reach more than 200 miles before recharging. This would put the charging cycle of an average electric car well beyond 30 minutes, as Trump states.

While the former president may be deliberately underestimating the performance capability of electric cars for a joke, his stance on the electric vehicle industry indicates a sincerity behind his attack.

Last month, Trump said on Truth Social that the transition to electrical car manufacturing would shift the automotive industry from the U.S. toward China. “ALL ELECTRIC CARS – THEY WILL ALL BE MADE IN CHINA, and the Auto Industry in America will cease to exist!” Trump wrote.

“There is already a giant ‘E GLUT,’ they don’t go far or long, are very expensive, and the consumer must be given a CHOICE.”

The Ruling


There’s no evidence that all-electric boats require batteries heavy enough to make them sink. Batteries may be heavier than mercury engines, and current technology can limit the type of seafaring all-electric vehicles are capable of.

The notion that electric cars can only drive up to a half-hour on a single charge is misguided. Multiple analyses show that electric cars can handle journeys between 100-200 miles on a single charge, depending on the model. Some newer models are capable of traveling beyond 300 miles on a single charge.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team

False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false. Read more about our ratings.

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