technology is perfect and critics of electric cars gleefully point out
the disadvantages electric car drivers will likely encounter on the
open road. The biggest knock is that an electric car’s range is more
limited than a conventional gas-powered vehicle. That’s an undisputed
fact. And many observers still question the life of the battery.
this point, the electric car simply won’t work for all drivers. While
we don’t expect to convert electric car critics into fans, we do
believe that electric cars offer real, tangible advantages worth
considering—particularly for urban drivers who drive less than 50 miles
Here then is our list of electric car advantages. We’re also looking at the issue objectively and have explored the “Disadvantages of Electric Cars” as a counterpoint. And if you're brand new to the electric car scene, you'll want to read "Electric Cars: A Brief Overview."
internal combustion means no exhaust. A car doesn't get much greener
than that. Of course, the juice in the electrical outlets you plug your
electric car into is most likely created, at least in part, by burning
coal, which creates a whole lot of pollution. But in theory, as
alternative power sources like wind, solar and even nuclear become more
plentiful, the more green electric vehicles will become and the more
realistic a “true” zero emissions vehicle will become.
your electric vehicle into your garage or charging station-equipped
parking spot, plug 'er in and walk away. No pumps, no cashiers, no
mess. Return three to eight hours later to a fully charged vehicle, or
wait as little as 15 minutes for an 80 percent charge using a “quick
By some estimates, a daily commuter can expect to see
as little as a $13 increase in their monthly electric bill. Figured
another way, driving an average sedan will cost up to four times as
much in fuel costs as you'd pay for the electricity to charge a Tesla
Roadster every night (read: 2010 Tesla Roadster Review).
upgraded electrical grid and developing technologies like using new
ultra-capacitors in place of conventional batteries could allow for a
future generation of vehicles that can be fully re-charged in as little
as 5 minutes. That’s the future calling; for now, we’ll settle for no
longer adding gas to a vehicle.
3. Minimal maintenance
those parts moving so quickly and operating at such high temperatures
inside an internal combustion engine can require lots of attention, as
the folks at your local lube shop are more than happy to remind you
every three months. The only real moving part in the electric motor is
the shaft, which rarely requires maintenance. Expect to rotate your
tires and refill the windshield wiper fluid on your EV every five
thousand miles and plan to rest easy at night.
As for the battery
packs, Prius owners are reporting driving as much as 190,000 miles
without needing a replacement. GM has projected battery life of their
plug-in electric vehicles at “about 10 years or 100,000 miles.” (read: Electric Vehicles: GM Goes Electric).
debate over expected and realistic battery life rages online, of
course. But many observers expect new battery technology to give us
packs that will outlast the life of the car relatively soon. If your
battery should die, the good news is that replacement prices continue
to come down. We’re hopeful that by the time you need to replace the
battery pack in the current generation of vehicles, battery packs may
actually be quite affordable.
4. A quiet and smooth ride
all the thousands of controlled explosions happening every minute in an
internal combustion engine, an electric car provides a completely
different kind of ride. A Tesla Roadster can reportedly hit 62 mph in
about 4 seconds with less commotion than a gentle breeze (watch: 2010 Tesla Roadster Video Test Drive).
you’ll drive electric cars without a gear box. Taking RPMs out of the
equation means that a battery-powered car has a high torque over a
larger range of speeds while accelerating, compared to an internal
In other words, despite what you may have
heard, electric vehicles can be fast. Seriously fast. In fact, the
world’s fastest electric-powered motorcycle from KillaCycle accelerates
from 0 to 60 in less than one second. That’s not a typo.
5. Tax credits for a qualifying electric vehicle
vehicles will typically cost more than comparable conventional
vehicles. Just like hybrids before them, early adopters will pay a
premium for electric technology.
But the government policymakers
really want you to at least consider and possibly drive one. That's why
automakers are making a concerted effort to develop affordable
mass-market electric cars like the upcoming 2011 Nissan Leaf (read: Nissan Leaf Preview). Pricing for the Leaf is projected between $25,000 and $30,000.
the government is offering tax credits of up to $7,500. Add to that the
$500 - $1,000 in annual operating cost savings from eliminating
gasoline – Nissan sees a cost of about $13 to drive 620 miles in a
Leaf, versus the $63 in gas it might cost to drive the same distance in
say, an Altima – and suddenly you've got one of the most
competitively-priced cars on the market over a decade of ownership.