Slide Into the Future with an Electric Car

Slide  Into the Future with an Electric Car

Chances are, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about electric cars and might even know a few lucky owners. Does the thought of flying past a gas station while tossing your head back in laughter sound intriguing, but still you resist? Do you have questions of how it will drive or suffer from range anxiety—the possibility of being stranded from the battery failing? Never fear,…we can calm your nerves. Let’s define the basic terms associated with electric cars: hybrid, plug-in, and electric.

HYBRID CARS (in broad terms) have a gas engine and battery that work together. These types of cars use the gas engine for distance and power, and rely more on electric power for shorter, lower speed trips. The gas engine helps keep the battery charged.

PLUG-IN HYBRIDS can go a short distance on full electric power, and then switch over to the gas/electric hybrid mode to give you range. “Plug-in” means you actually plug it into your wall outlet. If you’re someone who does a lot of local, shorter trips, you’ll likely do it on electricity, and not gasoline. 

ELECTRIC CARS have no gasoline engine on board, and rely solely on rechargeable batteries to power the electric motor(s) that drive the wheels. Examples would be any vehicle made by Tesla. So, if you run out of charge, you need to find a place to plug in.

WHY BUY AN ELECTRIC CAR? First, they use a lot less energy than a car that runs on gasoline.  This also means lower maintenance costs, and can save you up to two-thirds the cost to run.  For example, no more oil changes—ever. You’ll never need to fill up your tank—ever. Second, they don’t pollute—at all: electric cars produce no tailpipe emissions (and don’t have tailpipes)! 

You should definitely test drive several if you are considering an electric or hybrid car. They drive differently. Electric cars often deliver power right away, and are smooth and quiet.  This is because electricity is being used to power an electric motor, and it’s very much an “instant on” effect, like turning on a switch. 

WHY MIGHT AN ELECTRIC CAR NOT BE FOR ME?  First, they often cost more, initially, than a comparable gas-engine car. Also, if you drive more than 70 miles per day, and can’t easily get to a public or workplace charging area, this could be an issue, unless you have a car that has a longer range. The Chevy Bolt, for example, has a range of up to 238 miles between charges. You also need to have access to a 240-volt outlet (like your electric dryer likely has) and a place to park your car overnight for recharging.  It’s one thing if you have a home/garage, but if you’re in an apartment or condo, that could be an issue if you can’t park near an electric outlet. Plus, it can take up to several hours to charge an electric car, so that needs to be figured into how you live your life and your car needs.

HOW MUCH DO ELECTRIC CARS COST?  For a new one, they can range from around $30,000 (Nissan Leaf) to well over $100,000 (Porsche, Mercedes, etc.). However, some electric cars are eligible for up to a $7,500 federal tax credit to offset the extra cost. Additional city and state tax credits, rebates, or vouchers may be available depending on where you live. Ask you dealers if any might apply, as these would help reduce the upfront costs.

One final tip is to go online and search for a ‘conversion calculator for better mileage’ webpage. This is where you can enter your current car’s MPG (miles per gallon), and then enter information on the new car (electric or otherwise) as to cost, better gas mileage, etc., and it will calculate when switching to a new car will pay for itself based on the data you supply.

Am I Ready for an Electric Car?

Consumer Reports suggests that you ask yourself the following questions as you consider an electric car:
• How many miles do I drive each day?
• Do I have regular access to charging at home or work?
• How much does my electricity cost?
• Do I need a faster charging option, or can I use my regular outlet?
• How often do I drive outside the range my car is rated for?
• Are there charging stations along the route I take?

Remember, if you have any friends or family who have an electric car, talk to them!  You’ll find that they have likely done a lot of research, and are willing and happy to share their stories. 

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