Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Cars

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Vehicles

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People have been forecasting the coming of electric vehicles since at least the 1960s, but you might be surprised to discover that the basic technology is older even than that. In fact, electric cars date back almost as far as gasoline-powered ones. A few practical electric cars were developed in the late 19th century and, though they never really caught on back then, the technology has been quietly biding its time, waiting for its moment.

The latest electric cars look just as attractive as conventional ones and go just as far. Take a look at the amazing electric sports cars produced by Tesla and all your preconceptions will fall away in an instant. If you think electric cars are perpetual prototypes, Toyota’s highly successful Prius hybrid proves otherwise: well over a million of the cars have now been sold in 40 different countries.

If you’re of a “light-green” environmental mind, electric cars might seem like a good choice; they appear to cut your air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, which has to be a good thing, right? It’s important to realize that there are some environmental drawbacks too. You need to consider where the electricity that powers your car might be coming from. Still, even if it’s produced in an old-fashioned, coal-guzzling power plant (as most electricity still is) the planet will still likely see some benefit from your switch away from internal combustion. Electric cars are inherently more efficient than gas-powered ones. That’s especially true if you switch away from a particularly heavy and inefficient gas car or if you live somewhere like Canada or France, where the majority of electricity comes from hydroelectric dams or nuclear power plants.

This may be a relatively short-term issue: electric cars will be much more attractive in a future where more of our electricity is produced from renewable energy. Other environmental factors to weigh in include the question of batteries: where and how are they produced and can they be safely disposed of?

If you’re more of a “darker or deeper green,” you feel there are far better ways of reducing the impact of your transportation, such as walking and cycling (which are great fun and have huge added health benefits) and making more use of public transportation—to say nothing of telecommuting. But for many people, getting on a bicycle or a bus simply isn’t an option, even if we’re keen to do our bit for the planet. Are electric vehicles what we’ve been waiting for? Could this be the way to shift ourselves from being “part of the problem” to “part of the solution?” Quite possibly!

Currently available electric cars: Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Mini E, Smart 4-2 EV, Mitsubishi iMiEV,, Prius EV, Focus EV, Fisker Karma, Tesla, CODA and other smaller companies.


Electric Cars Advantages:

~ there are many choices of cars available 

~ more efficient than gas-powered vehicles.

~ charging stations can be installed in your home and will be available in parking garages and public locations.

~ major automakers are working on creating a standard system for battery charging 

~ electric vehicles produce “zero emissions.”

~ plastics are used extensively to keep vehicles light and easier to propel.  Use recycled plastics to be greener and safer.


Electric Cars Disadvantages:

~ Electric cars are limited as to the distance that they can be driven before complete battery failure; average range is only about 100 miles. 

~ Electric cars cannot cruise, accelerate, or climb fast enough to compete with gasoline-powered cars and accessories, such as air conditioning and radios, drain the battery even further. 

~ Because electric cars are usually created by replacing the fuel tank and gasoline engine of a conventional car with electric motors, batteries, chargers, and controllers, the result is a car that is heavier and less efficient than a car solely running on electricity. 

~ Electric cars are more expensive because the manufacturer cannot fully recover the cost of the discarded parts and new parts and technology are expensive.

~ Electric vehicles are not completely “emission-free.” If the electricity used is produced by a coal or oil-fired generator, this only transfers the emissions from the tailpipe to the power plant.

 ~ They cannot tow a trailer or RV.  No towing capabilities.


Electric Car Questions & Answers:


1. Was there an increased presence of electric vehicles at the Car Show this time and why?  

There was an increased presence of electric cars as many of these models have been in the work for years.  In addition, there is a high demand for these cars in congested cities such as NYC, DC and LA.  There are more models coming out and much of this is also based on gas prices.


2. What do you see as the pros and cons of owning an electric car?

(See “Advantages and Disadvantages” above)


3. How accessible are they for the average consumer now? Cost?  

Vehicles are available to order today and some are on lots as we speak.  Don’t expect a discount beyond the Federal Tax Credit.


4. Does the cost of an electric car offset the $3 per gallon gas prices?

The marginal costs of plug-in electric cars are lower than conventional gasoline powered cars: three cents a mile if electricity costs 15 cents per kilowatt hour, gasoline would have to cost 90 cents per gallon and be used at the rate of 30 miles per gallon to provide equivalent marginal costs.  At $3 per gallon and 30 miles per gallon, the marginal costs of conventional cars (10 cents per mile) are more than triple the electric car marginal costs.

But the lower marginal costs of electric car operation are offset by the much higher fixed costs of batteries relative to an internal combustion engine of equivalent output. So for electric cars to be cost competitive, battery costs would have to be much lower (probably about a third of their current costs) or gasoline prices would have to be much higher (above $5 a gallon).

The “Life-Cycle” and environmental costs of electric vehicles needs to be considered as well.


5. Is now the time to buy an electric car or do i wait for the technology improve/will prices go down?

 Personally, I’d wait if you can, as prices will lower and technology. You can also expect increased choices of vehicles.  But consider your driving distances, insurance and driving styles before making the purchase.




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