I’ve been talking about electric cars for a while now. Yet, whether it’s the battery-powered all-electric car or the compromise of a hybrid, there is much suspicion in the way they are perceived. Indeed, a survey by Canada’s Global TV News found that 62% of the people questioned believed that both electric and hybrid models were impractical, expensive, lacking in any substantial thrust and weren’t built to last. As my trusty old Honda Civic is starting to show strong signs of wear and tear after thirteen years and 247,000 miles, I am starting to sniff around new automobile models.
I’m not necessarily a Green person, per sé, but with the world in a state of flux via changes in weather and steadily rising oceans and amounts of pollution, it’s important to at least consider abandoning the use of gasoline. So I’m doing my homework and I’ll be writing about it, so you don’t have to. Here’s the fundamental stuff you ought to think about when car shopping.
There are three types of electric cars: All-electric cars, which run on batteries and have to be recharged when the batteries run flat; Plug-in hybrids that rely on electricity from the wall and a gasoline engine; and Extended-range electric vehicles, like the Chevrolet Volt, that are a type of plug-in hybrid running exclusively on electricity, until the battery runs out when an on-board engine recharges it. The gasoline engine is therefore only utilized as a generator to provide electricity for longer trips, and does not directly drive the wheels.
A lot of folks really don’t believe hybrids and EVs are here to stay. Is it just a fad? No. Tesla and Nissan both offer pure electric cars for sale nationwide, and have sizable inventories. They will not run out of parts, either. Such experiences from my own impromptu surveys among friends and acquaintances is that you should never buy any BMW, Volkswagen or Audi automobile if you want promptitude and that most other manufacturers give great, speedy consumer satisfaction. With General Motors stepping up the amount of Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric vehicles, they’re manufacturing as well as Ford with its Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids, billions of dollars have been committed to the cause.
The benefit of never having to stop at a gas station when you drive your electric car is, first and foremost, that you do your driving for pennies per mile. There’s no need for oil changes. Factor in federal and local tax incentives and some electric cars are genuinely comparable in price to a conventional car. Out west, in the kooky republic of California, the Governor Jerry Brown and a bunch of those technocrat eggheads from Palo Alto have worked hard at the state house in Sacramento to create a number of tax incentives. Along with other incentives offered by the IRS, an all-electric Nissan Leaf will cost some buyers only $20,280. Indeed, the state bends over backwards to assist consumers, even allowing lone EV drivers access to carpool lanes after the same privilege have expired for hybrid drivers.
Automakers are not altruistic. Investment in an electric car future was essential. Demand from the ‘green’ liberal segment of the public is just one reason. Satisfying the new fuel-economy requirements, and zero-emissions mandates from California, and other states is essential. Beyond being ‘liberal’, manufacturers realize that importing oil from unstable regimes, public anger over gasoline price spikes, and outrage over oil spills is just plain good business.
Even now, all-electric cars are up to three times as efficient as gasoline-powered cars. Electric motors are 90% efficient at converting energy into motion, compared to 30 to 40 percent for conventional cars and hybrids. The current problem lies in the energy lost in storing, producing, and transmitting electricity. Nevertheless, in regions like California with clean renewable electric production, electric cars maintain an advantage.