Have you noticed BEVs are outselling plug-in hybrids of late? Not just Leaf vs. Volt – though Volt still holds an edge in total sales in the U.S. – but the aggregate total.
Below is a list of eight perks to electric cars. Can you add to them? Is anyone here tempted to go EV, and leave the EREV behind? Or add to the EREV? With gas prices where they are below $3, predictions of how things will go next year are being made, but this could be anyone’s guess.
If the new Volt gets close to 50 miles range, it will all the more be able to claim some of the following benefits, and it is already the top-e-range plug-in gas-electric car made.
There are now a baker’s dozen electric cars for sale in the U.S., but many people are still learning about them.
This is understandable as they’re yet a relatively new type of car, for now only the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, BMW i3, Ford Focus Electric, and Mitsubishi i-MiEV are sold nationwide, and the rest are available to limited markets.
But despite tepid automakers and consumer concerns of range anxiety, it’s notable that all-electric vehicle (EVs) are vying well against plug-in hybrid (PHEVS). There are only eight PHEVs compared to 13 EVs on the U.S. market – although Toyota’s RAV4 EV and Honda’s Fit EV are going away, and new EVs are pending.
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This year through October, EVs have sold just less than 50,000 cars, PHEVs were a bit below 48,000, and in September, Americans bought their 250,000th plug-in
car since their inception.
According to Tom Saxton, chief science officer of Plug In America, the salient points he likes to observe can be boiled to a simple message.
SEE ALSO: Plug-in vehicles now at 600,000 sold worldwide
“Plug-in electric vehicles are more fun to drive, more convenient to fuel, and less expensive to operate than gas cars,” says Saxton.
To add details to these points, and include a few more while we’re at it, following are eight perks to going EV.
Low Operating Costs
Ford Focus Electric.
EVs are three-times more efficient on average than a typical internal combustion car meaning big savings. A Nissan Leaf for example, gets an EPA rating of “mile per gallon equivalent” of 129 city, 102 hwy, 115 combined.
Factoring average utility rates, estimated electricity costs to run it are about equal to a gas car if the gas car owner bought gasoline for 73 cents per gallon.
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Rates do vary across the U.S. but a little effort taken to look deeper could be time well spent.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extensive data on EVs, and tools to help drill down and calculate costs and efficiency.
One of the most obvious perks is that EV drivers need never buy gasoline again. Usually home charging gives enough range to manage a day’s driving, so this also means no stopping and waiting.
“I think the biggest stealth benefit of driving an EV is being able to charge at home,” says Plug In America’s Saxton. “People often think that’s a negative when in fact it’s much easier than going to a gas station, particularly if you charge in a garage shielded from the elements.”
Whether there’s ever a “wait” time for EV batteries that do take longer to replenish than a liquid fuel tank is open to one’s perspective.
“For daily driving, you only need to charge at home, or perhaps at work. Either way, there’s no waiting,” says Saxton. “It takes about as much of your time as plugging in your cell phone.”
Obviously if public charging is used, then a wait could be involved, but this can be worked around by timing things so charging is done while you shop or are at work, as the case may be, and assuming it’s available.
“The best way to use an electric vehicle is for local driving within the single-charge range of the vehicle, so that you never have to wait for a charge,” says Saxton. “It just happens while you’re doing something else.”
High current chargers like “level 3” 480-volt DC chargers or Tesla’s free Superchargers for its Model S mean replenishing 80-percent usually in under 30 minutes.
Tesla “skateboard” chassis.
The electric drivetrain of an EV is simpler. It requires no tune-ups, oil changes, spark plug replacement, and so on that internal combustion engines require.
Brakes also need not be replaced as often because regeneratve braking spares the friction pads from being used as hard.
The rest of the cars are however pure automotive, with HVAC, power accessories, infotainment, and all other hardware, so this aspect is about on par with conventional cars.
But anyone who’s maintained cars before knows what’s under the hood can be be a cost and time waster if something goes wrong. EVs simply have less there to go wrong.
EVs emit nothing. Cars do not get much cleaner than that. There’s been a load of obfuscation out there about the source of electricity however, and it seems never a day goes by without a commenter writing something about “dirty coal” under articles about EVs.
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Fact: EVs are still cleaner than most cars, even if powered by a straight coal-powered grid, which is typically not the case. If it were the case, a Leaf powered by pure coal-generated electricity would equal the emissions of a 30 mpg car, and the U.S. average for gas cars is 26 mpg.
But most grids have multiple sources, and all are getting cleaner. As gas cars age however, their emissions tend to go up, so EVs are recommended by numerous science-citing advocates.
They and their electricity sources add up to a proposition that is clean and getting cleaner.
Neat To Drive
EVs benefit from lessons learned in conventional automotive engineering; they’re quiet and provide a drive experience unlike conventional cars.
They handle and brake and accelerate normally, for sure, but the sum total feels different with the quietness, just press-and-go acceleration, and maximum torque from a standstill.
The Model S is in a category of one in that it’s genuinely quick by any standard. All EVs are novel, and – while there are exceptions – many anecdotal accounts have drivers saying once they’ve gone EV, they do not want to go back.
Warm Fuzzy Feeling
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. This newly launched car will be available nationwide early 2015.
Let’s be honest. Some people want to feel like they are part of the solution, and not part of the problem. EVs are kind of like voting. Some may feel disenfranchised, and say why bother, what’s the difference? Others say, it starts with me.
If you’re in the latter category, and want to do what you can to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, an EV can’t be beat.
Cheap To Acquire
Chevy Spark EV.
With the exception of the Tesla Model S, electric cars can be had at relatively reasonable prices as new vehicles go.
The average new car price is $32,000 and an entry EV can be a couple thousand or more below this. If your federal tax situation will permit, you can recoup the one-time $7,500 federal tax credit and states that add on to this can tally even more off the net price.
Bottom line is EVs may be had for below $20,000 or low 20s although the buyer will have to pay up front before recouping anything back.
Alternately, inexpensive lease deals can be available so shop and ask questions.
Accounts of people trading out a gas-consuming car and leasing a Leaf for the $200-300 they used to pay just at the pump abound.
SEE ALSO: Should You Buy or Lease a Plug-in Car?
These deals do involve varying degrees of money down, but they may net out to a monthly bill not a whole lot more than a family plan for a smartphone.
Leasing also eliminates concerns over reselling the car, or depreciation assuming you turn it back in at the end of the lease, and don’t buy it outright.