Electric vehicles have made their presence known for many years now, but they have yet to achieve the widespread adoption some proponents were hoping for by now. If you are considering an electric car for your next purchase, it’s worth having an understanding of the current technologies and the overall state of the industry so you know what you’re getting into.
What is an electric vehicle?
You probably realize that at its most basic, an electric vehicle uses a charged electrical battery to power the engine rather than internal combustion via gasoline. For many years, pure electric vehicles were somewhat niche products: there was almost nowhere to charge them other than at your own properly outfitted home, and batteries were such that they were only suitable for normal day driving for work and errands, not anything longer distance.
These days, battery technology has improved quite a bit and charging stations are growing increasingly common. While they aren’t so ubiquitous that a long road trip in a pure electric vehicle can be easily taken without any preparation, you can go nearly anywhere you’d like with a properly planned route between charging stations and scheduled stops. You can generally expect to get at least a few hundred miles out of a single charge from a new electric vehicle at this point.
If going pure electric still gives you fears of being stranded, hybrids benefit from these improvements as well, spending more time on electric power and using less gasoline than hybrids from ten or twenty years ago.
What is the current state of the EV industry?
Improved battery technology has been the biggest innovation in electric vehicles and has spurred their continued growth. It is unlikely that electric vehicles will fade away or become less common over time at this point. But widespread adoption still does not seem to be on the horizon without significant infrastructure changes.
While more common charging stations rivaling the frequency of gas stations is a major concern, many owners of gas vehicles simply don’t live somewhere where they’re even able to charge at home, especially at homes like apartments and condos. Improving the overall infrastructure to support electric vehicles is vital to continued growth.
What are the perks of an electric vehicle?
If you can charge your vehicle at home and are not overly concerned about taking it on long-range road trips, an electric vehicle is a fantastic option. Chief among them is lower operating costs: the electricity you will use to power your vehicle is far cheaper by any metric than gasoline, usually a bit less than half the total cost to operate. Fewer moving parts in an electric engine means less maintenance as well, usually about two thirds the average cost over time of maintaining a gasoline vehicle. You may also personally enjoy driving a vehicle that does not rely so heavily on fossil fuels, due to their environmental impact or due to their reliance on foreign trade with oil-producing nations.
While purchase prices for electric vehicles still tend to be higher than gas equivalents, most governments offer a number of tax credits and other incentives, such as being able to drive in carpool lanes, that can offset the initial cost increase and provide ancillary benefits. There are also some companies that specialize in electric vehicles, such as Edmunds, where they are easily accessible.