Electric Cars: Fad or Future?
Are electric cars just a passing fad like bell bottoms, lower-back tattoos and big hair? Honestly, I hadn’t even thought to ask this question because it seemed easy to see that electric cars will be a big part of the automobile industry, but the writer of this article had been asked the question enough times that he felt he needed to answer it.
His answer to the above question is a resounding “No” and here are some of his reasons why EVs are here to stay:
“Among other things, 1) electrics cars run dead quiet, 2) electric cars have instant torque and terrific acceleration at low RPMs, performance which cannot be matched by gasoline engines, 3) electric cars have platform flexibility, turn radius/handling that can be amazing, since you can use distributed motors, all electric control etc, the same promise that fuel cell cars had, but couldn’t deliver, and 4) maintenance goes WAY down, virtually no fluids fewer moving parts.
Bottom line, once an EV or PHEV comes close on range and cost, it’s a better car than a gasoline car.”
As we, the consumer, get used to the EV idea, the technology will perform the way we demand and the price will come down. It will take time, but EVs are definitely a thing of the future (especially with gas prices as high as they are and no sign of coming down).
It is true, the mainstream consumer feels uneasy about aspects of owning an EV: range (how far can the car travel on a single charge), charge time (how long it takes to charge the battery), and maintenance (if you’re like me, you assume the new technology will be more costly to maintain and repair. Read on).
The range of EVs of today (and the future) is not like the EVs of yester-decade. Most EVs in the industry will easily get you to and from work if you have an average commute. I, however, have had a very un-average commute (100 miles per day) and what’s the point in not having to pay for gas if you can’t take your car on a long road trip? There are a couple EVs today that could handle that and as far as the future, the writer of the article predicts “by 2015 the average EV/PHEV range will approach 200 mi, and range anxiety will be a thing of the past.” Good news for all.
So, let’s say we want to go on that long-range road trip and we find a several charging stations along the way; am I going to have to spend half the day waiting for my EVs battery to charge? The not-so-short answer is no, but it depends on your cars battery. Here’s what the writer said: “charging is not a huge limitation, it’s a technology and cost choice. Charge time is effectively a function of battery size, onboard charger size, and volts. Let’s start out by saying we’re not going to be charging EVs at 110. Too slow. But charging at 220 is very doable. 220V home chargers today are in the 1-2K range. They will not stay that high for long. Onboard charging The Leaf chose a 3.3Kw onboard charger. Big mistake, done to skim $2K off the price of the car and keep it inline with the conventional Camry price point after tax credit. They should have offered multiple options. The Focus and Volt noticed this went with a 6.6 kw job, the Tesla Model S comes with a 10 – 20 kw. Faster charging is pretty much an ask and you shall receive issue.”
As someone who put a lot of miles on her new 2009 Honda Accord (remember the 100 mile per day commute?) and someone who previously owned a very costly used foreign car (every six months we’d have to put $1,200 into a car we paid bought for $10,000…thus the new Accord), maintenance and repair costs are very important to me. The writer touched briefly on the fact that EVs have “virtually no fluids fewer moving parts” which brings costs way down. Winning.
So here’s what we know about EVs:
- While they currently cost $8-$35,000 more than a gas vehicle, prices will continue to go down and demand and supply go up
- They will cost less to fuel (electrically charging vs gasoline that is currently around $3.50 per gallon)
- They will cost less to maintain and repair because they are simpler
- They will drive better and perform better as the technology catches up with the potential of not having a big, heavy engine in the front
- Many manufacturers will be producing cars that will alleviate concerns about range and charge time by 2015.
Yeah, I’d say EVs are here to stay.