Is an Electric Vehicle in your Future?

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General Motors announced at the Detroit Auto Show last month that they are coming out with a new electric car with a 200 mile range. Most electric cars today have about a range of around 80 miles, except for the Tesla Model S which starts at $70,000, so this is a big deal. GM plans to build this small hatchback outside Detroit and sell it for $37,500 before rebates and federal tax credits. The car does not have a name yet, but with this price and range it is sure to be a hit.

Electric vehicles are no longer considered an oddity. Battery technology is improving, different car styles and seating options are available, and prices have come down. Every car maker is now producing electric vehicles or hybrids, so more diversity is on the way. Luxury car makers, like Cadillac, BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche, have entered the field, and Audi and Volvo will have new models out soon. The Tesla mentioned above is often defined not only as the best electric vehicle available, but the best car overall according to the experts at Consumer Reports.

Electric vehicles or EVs run only on electricity. Hybrid electric vehicles run on both electricity and another fuel, like gas or diesel. Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs) can recharge their batteries, and you may be starting to see charging stations at hotels, offices, and some retail establishments. The lack of readily available charging stations is one of the reasons you don’t see more EVs. With a range of only 80 miles between charges, this severely limited their usefulness.

However, the main reason for the slow adoption of EVs has been price. EVs and PHEVs are more expensive than their gas guzzling counterparts, and the price is hard to justify with today’s gas prices. In order to get more EVs on the road, the federal government offers a $7,500 tax credit and some states have added incentives (a $2,500 rebate in CA and a $5,000 tax credit in GA). Many electric vehicle drivers lease their cars and still take advantage of these incentives. The other advantage to leasing EVs is that they have a lower resale value due to technology improvements each year.

Now that the range is improving on the more affordable models, it may be time to consider an EV or PHEV. Imagine using a clean, renewable power source like solar panels to charge your EV, and you would never look back. We’re not there yet, but you can see it coming in the future. The next time you buy a car, take a look at these great cars.