Can I seriously consider an electric car yet?

By Brean Harbervaster.

Manufacturers would never make cars that no-one would buy so the very existence of electric cars mean that for some people they are already all you need.

If you live in a home that has a place to install the dedicated plug-in charging station that electric cars need while you are asleep at night, and if you do not plan on long-distance road trips, there is nothing an electric car cannot do for you right now.

In an effort to showcase the possibilities of all-electric vehicles, manufacturers have included racy sports cars and so-called “SUV”s in the line-up, but to be more sensible and practical, a smaller lightweight passenger car is perhaps the most efficient way to exploit the technology.

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The range king right now is the 2015 Tesla Model X. It is called an SUV but it is really just a car. This car is advertised as having a range of up to 230 miles and it sells for about $80,000.

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Following way behind this leader with a range of about 100 miles are two cars, the carbon-fiber 2014 BMW i3 (pictured left) at $42,200 and the 2014 Mercedes B-Class E-Cell which is really a dressed up Tesla and is expected to sell for about the same as the BMW.

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Volkswagen’s E-Golf is of course the electric version of the world’s most highly acclaimed motor vehicle, the Golf. When comparing all types of cars from tiny roadsters to SUVs as big as ships, no other car has been voted the best more than the good old Golf. The 2015 E-Golf will however only provide a range of about 85 miles and cost a lot more than a Golf with an engine which can drive from anywhere to anywhere. The much smaller VW “e-Up!” will go 99 miles on a charge.

The Kia Soul EV is a nice little box that a driver dressed as a hamster can drive about 90 miles between charges.

One of the most common electric cars is the Nissan Leaf. This can drive about 73 miles on a full charge.  Almost one of every two electric cars on the road is a Leaf. They are extremely successful and currently the one to beat. The directly competing Ford Focus Electric has a range of 76 miles.

And then there are a few cars that can only go about 30 or 40 miles. Some of these have small gasoline engines to generate more electricity for a much greater range, but they do not get propelled by these engines so they are essentially electric cars with generators on board. These cars include the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR, GM’s electric cousins. Without their gasoline generators on board, these cars would not have a usable range. 30 miles capacity is just too risky. You would be stranded much of the time.

There are more than the above available for sale to most US residents right now, but those not mentioned are small run specialist cars that can either go very fast, or can only hold one or two people. The selection discussed here are United States models, but China is making strides in the electric car world with the BYD and there are a sprinkling of other models in other countries. All these cars excel at what they do and as ranges continue to improve due to better batteries etc., you can bet there will be many more.

But the time has come for local commuting motorists with a place to set up a charger at home. You can seriously consider an electric car, especially if you also have a long range conventional fuel car in the family.

 

 

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