Will Your Next Car Be Electric?

Will Your Next Car Be Electric?

By SUZANNE WARING

Jacob German was the first person to receive a speeding ticket while driving an automobile. In 1899, going at the breakneck speed of 12 mph down a Manhattan street in New York City in an electric vehicle, German drew the attention of onlookers.

Electric vehicles (EVs) were popular in the early 1900s because they didn’t have to be cranked like the internal-combustion engine vehicle (ICV) that was also noisy and had an unpleasant exhaust. As more people had electricity, the convenient electric car was pleasant to drive around a city. Rural roads were so primitive, and few ventured a cross-country trip.

Then Henry Ford produced the Model T, which cost only about $640 while an EV cost $1,750. Around the same time, rural roads improved, and gasoline-filling stations popped up in every little town, while electricity was only found in larger towns and cities.

By 1935, the electric car had all but disappeared.

The 1973 Arab Oil Embargo commanded new interest in alternate-energy vehicles, including those powered by electricity. Yet EVs still had drawbacks, including top speeds of 45 miles per hour with an average range of 40 miles between charges. The gasoline-engine car continued to win out, but now in the 21st century, EVs are making a comeback.

Edmunds, Inc., a car shopping and automotive research guide, predicts 2021 will be a pivotal year for the mainstream adoption of electric cars. The electric vehicle market is projected to be around 2.5 percent of all new cars sold during the year. More people are asking about the EV, and car manufacturers are delivering.

Convenience

Bill Fowkes owns a 2018 Volt he bought second-hand. He uses it to drive to different stops during his work day.

“I know the miles I will be driving are always under the miles I would have available on a full charge. I plug in to a 240-volt outlet when I get home, so the car is ready to go the next day,” said Fowkes. “A 120-volt wall socket can be used, but that is too slow to get a full charge during the night.”

As the result of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Energy Department is helping to build a nationwide charging infrastructure. Today 20 thousand charging stations are available at 8 thousand locations across the country.

EV owners can take advantage of these available charging stations when taking a long-distance trip, using cellphone apps to help locate charging stations.

Super-fast Tesla charging stations can charge a Tesla battery in about 30 minutes but may take longer for other makes of cars.

“We have a charging station outside of both our facilities that someone can drive up and use 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Jason Nordberg, one of the owners of Karl Tyler Auto Group in Missoula, Mont.

Electric vs. Gas

Car shoppers likely want to know if EVs are comparable to ICVs beyond the availability of charging stations.

“The car starts right up in cold weather,” said Fowkes. “Compared to mild weather, I have found that battery depletion is not much more than 15 miles between charges on the coldest days.”

He noted that running an air conditioner during summer can also drain the battery at about the same depletion rate.

“I drive 70 to 75 miles per hour when I’m out on the highway. The car pulls a grade like my ICV, and because the car has no gears, I have instant power to go around slower vehicles,” said Fowkes. “My dog used to be able to recognize the sound of my car and would be standing at the door looking for me when I got home. With this quiet EV, I can now surprise him.”

Economy

According to a 2020 Consumer Reports study, EV maintenance costs are 50 percent less than for gas-powered cars. EV owners don’t need to worry about oil changes or having to replace old mufflers, although they should expect other standard upkeep.

“We will continue to see our customers for all the other maintenance on cars, such as brakes, tires, and replacing fluids other than oil,” said Nordberg.

He noted the rare major expense on an EV is the battery. “The battery warranty on the new VW ID4 electric car is eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first.”

It’s not uncommon for modern EV batteries that cost from $5,000 to $15,000 to last more than 10 years, and some will go well beyond that before needing replacement.

Average EV owners will sell their car long before they would need to replace the battery pack.

Average degradation of the battery is typically only 1 to 2 percent a year.

But EV cars will still work when their batteries degrade. They just need recharging more frequently.

As battery life keeps improving, the issue of replacing the battery will eventually become less important. Also, ways to re-purpose car batteries have proven successful, helping to alleviate the issue of old batteries becoming such environmental problems.

EVs range in price. Resale value may depend on mileage, the same as with an ICV.

Safety

First responders recognize accidents occur in ICVs and EVs. Responders train to prevent and extinguish fires in both types of vehicles.

Home owners may be concerned about the battery catching fire while the car recharges in the garage. Because an EV has a safety shut-off that flips when the lithium-ion battery is completely recharged, an EV rarely catches fire while recharging.

Bottom Line

The present administration is pledging the United States will cut greenhouse gases in half by 2030. Buying an electric car is one step individuals may take in helping to reduce pollution. MSN