Can Electric Cars Keep Their Promises?

From what I hear, electric cars are ready to reshape the automotive industry in a way not seen since the introduction of the internal combustion engine. 2010 promises to be an important year for electric cars as several new models are planned for the market.

This is good news for environmentally conscious consumers, but do electric cars deserve more attention than fuel-efficient petrol or diesel models?

Certainly, electric cars offer a great attraction for the simple reason that visits to the gas pump are no longer part of the equation. Instead of refuelling, electric car users will plug it in at home, at work or on the road. It is about operating the power grid in a way never before seen.

I’m not going to tell you to buy one product or not buy another, but what I’m going to tell you is that there are some things to consider before deciding in favour of an electric model or something else:

Vehicle cost – Surprise, surprise, surprise! Electric cars are expensive, as we learned when the then Tesla Roadster, worth $98,000 – now $109,000 – was introduced in 2008. Of course, Tesla is an exotic car, but most electric vehicles have a price north of $40,000. The good news is that some models have a $7,500 federal rebate and some states add their rebate or tax allowance.

Vehicle availability – When the first major wave of electric vehicles arrives, a limited number of Nissan Leaf, Ford Transit Connect EV, Chevy Volt and other models will be available. It is because manufacturers are still unsure that customers will adopt the technology. Some models will be rare until production is increased, which means you may have to wait six months, perhaps a year, before buying one.

Extreme temperatures – How long does the life of electric cars last in extreme weather conditions? Manufacturers are trying to find out by testing their vehicles in various ways, but winter heat in Minnesota or Arizona may be difficult to reproduce. Look for these cars to carry generous guarantees just in case the unthinkable happens….anything!

Invisible pollution – Electric vehicles do not emit carbon dioxide pollution, do they? Well, on the road, they don’t do it. However, when lighting electric vehicles, use electricity from coal-fired power plants. And, in the manufacturing process, they consume precious resources like any other car. Overall, their environmental impact may be less than that of a clean diesel or high-efficiency gasoline engine, but if you try to “save the planet” with an electric vehicle, you may be disappointed.

Other factors, such as registration, insurance, maintenance, repair and depreciation costs, must also be taken into account. It is likely that electric vehicles will improve over time and prices will fall, making grid-powered vehicles more and more popular.

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