Electric cars are becoming increasingly more desirable, and overall they have more advantages than disadvantages.
- The number one advantage of an electric vehicle is that no gas is required. One example is the Chevy Volt. It has a battery range of 40 miles. That means it can drive for 40 miles without using gas. 40 miles is more than the range of an average commute to work, so you can go to and from work using no gas. With minimal gas usage comes great savings. You do need gas in the Volt in case your battery runs out or you go for a long distance. However, the amount of fill ups per year will be much fewer with an electric vehicle
- You can plug the car into any outlet of the proper voltage and charge the car. Electricity is much cheaper than gas, and the savings will be dramatic
- Electric cars give off no emissions. Electric cars are even better than hybrids in this regard. Hybrids running on gas give off emissions, while electric cars are totally 100 percent free of pollutants
- Safety is a big concern with these vehicles. However, the fluid batteries actually take impact better than a fully made gas car, and can help even more in the event of an accident
- The first disadvantage is price. Electric car batteries are not cheap, and the better the battery, the more you will pay. For example, the Chevy Volt has a 40 mile range and sells for around $30,000. Compare that to the 250 to 300 mile range of cars made by Tesla Motors, which sell for anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000
- Even though it is a quiet ride, silence can be seen as a disadvantage. People like to hear cars when they are coming up behind them or beside them, and you can't hear if an electric car is near you. This has been known to lead to accidents
- Most cars take a long time to recharge their batteries. Tesla Motors' Model S can recharge in 45 minutes, but most electric cars right now take hours to charge. You can't drive the car while the batteries are charging usually, so your car will be out of commission while it is plugged in
- Most electric cars currently on the road do not have long ranges. Although in the future it will improve, most of the cars have a range of less than 25 miles, and you can't truly see the great benefits until you ride in a vehicle with a longer range
Current and Future Electric Cars
Many automakers have plans to produce electric cars--also known as an electric vehicle (EV). Past EVs never gained popularity and had notoriously poor performance, short battery life and long recharge times. But automakers are confident that advances in technology will ensure that the next generation of electric cars will satisfy the needs of today's drivers. Here are a few models scheduled to appear in showrooms soon.
Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 and quickly earned worldwide attention following the unveiling of the Tesla Roadster in 2006. This two-seater sports car accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a travel range of more than 200 miles on a fully charged battery. The Roadster's efficiency and performance showcases the company's belief that an electric car can be both environmentally friendly and exciting to drive. The base MSRP is $101,500, which includes a $7,500 federal electric car tax credit. A "Sport" version is also available for an additional $19,500 and includes a sport adjustable suspension, performance tires and a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds.
For those needing more room, Tesla is currently taking reservations for their upcoming Model S, an electric sedan that the company says will accommodate seven passengers. Varying battery and charging options will give the Model S a range of up to 300 miles and a charge time as fast as 45 minutes. Deliveries of the Model S are scheduled for late 2011 and the estimated price is $49,900 (including the tax credit).
The Volt is a five-passenger sedan that travels on pure electricity for an estimated 40 miles per battery charge. For longer trips or when charging is not possible, the Volt automatically switches to an onboard range extender, a gasoline-powered generator that creates more electricity to power the car. Chevrolet says the range extender will allow the Volt to travel an additional 300 miles per tank. The Volt is in showrooms at around $40,000.
Fisker Automotive is another start-up that the Karma, a four-passenger luxury sedan that uses a system almost identical to the Chevrolet Volt. The Karma has a 50-mile range on pure electricity before switching to a gasoline-powered generator that provides power for 300 miles per tank. The base price is around $87,000 (before tax credits are applied).
Smart ForTwo Electric
Smart is currently testing and researching an electric version of the ForTwo, which has an estimated range of 80 miles per charge. We should see the electric smart by 2012. Prices haven't been announced.
The Leaf, a five-passenger sedan with an estimated 100-mile range per charge, was released in late 2010. The Leaf sells for around $36,000.
You can expect this list of electric cars to grow as more customers look for alternatives to gasoline due to fluctuating gas prices and concern for the environment.
Is an Electric Car Right for You?
There are a couple of things to consider if buying an electric car is the right decision for you.
One major factor is your price range. Some electric cars can go for over $100,000, so if you want to save money you may want to go with a hybrid instead. Because electricity is cheaper than gas, it is true that you can save money over time by driving an all electric car, but it takes a long time for the price to even out.
Electric cars are not made to go fast, and the current top speed of most models is less than 60 miles per hour. If you like to drive your car faster than that, an all electric car is probably not the best choice for you. That being said, if you will primarily use the electric car for short in-city commutes, an electric car is an excellent choice.