Electric vehicles are starting to become more popular as gas prices continue to rise ... with no end in sight. But the truth is that electric vehicles are significantly pricier than many gas-powered models.
So we thought we'd put electric vehicles to the financial test. We ran the numbers, pitting the three mainstream models currently available in the US against the most popular hybrid, the Toyota Prius, and an “average” American car with average price, gas mileage, etc...
What we found was pretty surprising.
First, the averages. Your average American car gets 23.8 miles to the gallon, and your average American drives 13,476 miles a year. At current prices per gallon, that means each tank will run you $60 and you'll spend $2000 a year or so on gas.
Then, the Prius. First of all, the Prius already pays for itself. The average new car costs $28,400 in America and the Prius starts at around $23,000 depending on the model and options. On top of that, you cut your gas prices in half: the Prius will cost about $1000 a year to fill up and will pay for itself (provided you never have to repair it) in 21 years in gas savings. That's a high bar, to say the least.
So who are our contenders? They're the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Volt, and the Mitsubishi I MeiV. The Mitsubishi actually wins right out of the gate; at $27,900 base price and 112 miles to the “gallon,” it's slightly cheaper than the average gas-powered car and only a few thousand more than the Prius. Of course, it's also tiny. That's really the key roadblock here. If you were wondering, it will pay for itself in gas savings in about 19 years.
That leaves the Leaf and the Volt. They're both a few thousand more than the average: $32,780 and $31,465, respectively. They both also get similar “mileage” with 99 and 98 mpg. And they both cost the same to charge; at 11 cents a kilowatt, they each run roughly $561 to charge for the year. Yes, you're saving $1500 in gas costs.
The Volt narrowly squeaks this one; it will take two years to pay off the difference while the Leaf will take three.
So what can we conclude from this electric vehicle showdown? Well, first of all, if you don't care about space and just need a car to move a couple of people and maybe some errands on a daily basis, the Mitsubishi will suit you just fine. But secondly... electric vehicles have a bit of a way to go.
We're not being entirely fair here, however. Buying these vehicles new may entitle you to certain tax credits that can remove several thousand from the price of the vehicle before you take it off the lot. That said, so far electric vehicles are designed as essentially errand cars: They have limited ranges of 100 miles or so. So heavy drivers and commuters may want to consider the Prius instead. You may not save as much money... but you'll certainly save some money.
Tags: safauto, safe auto, electric car
Electric cars are supposed to be green machines: and to a point, they are. After all, you're not burning gas, so you're not churning greenhouse gases out your tailpipe. Unfortunately, though, just because you're burning less gas doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing much for the environment. After all, that electricity has to come from a generation plant, and those plants can be nastier than your car could ever dream of.
The Problem? Coal Yep, the black rock we burn. Coal is appealing to generate electricity for two very simple reasons: it's cheap, and there's a heck of a lot of it. In fact, pound for pound, burning coal is three to six times cheaper than burning oil for industrial electricity production. That's why half the electrical generation plants in America use coal.
Here in the US, we've got lots and lots of coal, so shipping it across the country is a much cheaper proposition than other fossil fuels. The problem, of course, is that burning coal is really, really dirty. It’s so dirty that coal accounts for 27% of our greenhouse gas emissions...and that number is only going up.
In essence, depending on where you live, it might not matter if you drive an EV, because you'll still be burning fossil fuel in order to get that battery charged up.
Where Do Electric Cars Make the Most Sense?
Unsurprisingly, California comes out on top, as it has the cleanest electricity grid. It's closely followed by New York, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska; driving an electric vehicle there will give you emissions roughly equivalent to getting 70 miles to the gallon out of your car.
The state at the bottom? Colorado, with a coal-heavy grid: driving an EV there pretty much means you may as well save some money and buy a Ford Fiesta.
Making Your EV More Green So, how can you, the private citizen who wants an EV and doesn't want to wreck the planet while driving, get some cleaner juice into your car?
First, regardless of where you live, look into personal electricity generation; there's no reason you can't install solar panels or a windmill on your property and use those to charge up your car. In fact, over time, it might even save you money, depending on your power bill and how often you drive your car.
Secondly, look for, and ask for, cleaner alternatives. This isn't just wind and solar power; for example, hydroelectricity can be a viable alternative in some areas, and believe it or not, nuclear power is much cleaner than coal. OK, so it makes nuclear waste, but that's stuff we can bury in a mountain. Some power grids allow you to choose which sources you get your energy from, and you can pick more environmentally friendly-methods.
Finally, if all else fails, trade in your EV for a hybrid, and simply avoid driving when possible. This'll have a few positive effects: for example, with less driving time, you'll have a lower auto insurance bill.
Remember: if you want to drive green, you can. Depending on where you live, it might just take a little more work.
Tags: safauto, safe auto, electric car, greenhouse gas
Enterprise thinks you want to drive an electric car. Already a pretty big backer of the electric car, they recently expanded the size of their fleet and the locations you can rent from: San Francisco, Seattle and Portland will soon offer a Nissan Leaf for $55 to $70 a day (and for many, that doesn’t include the added-on car insurance costs). But is Enterprise being enterprising...or misunderstanding consumer demand?
Most people don't go nearly as far as they think they do on any given outing, and the range of a Leaf or Chevy Volt is usually sufficient for most day-to-day needs. The appeal of an electric car is pretty obvious (especially if you've ever been required to gas up a rental car). But if you need to rent a car, will an EV be the right one for you?
When an Electric Car Is Right
If you're just doing a short trip within the city, such as running an errand that requires a few friends to come along, or going somewhere such as a concert or other event, then an EV makes sense, especially if the event is far enough out of the city that public transportation won't get you there, or will be closed by the time it wraps up. Again, it's pricey as rental cars go, but once you factor in gas costs, it becomes a whole lot cheaper, especially if you're dividing the cost up among several people.
Similarly, if you're on vacation in one of these cities and don't feel like figuring out the public transit system, the EV is an ideal car for you: low gas consumption and ideal for urban stop-and-go traffic.
You may even want to consider an electric car if your current car is out of commission; if it's possible to charge an EV at your house, it’s a worthy temporary replacement that you don't have to sink a few tanks of gas into. This situation also allows you to test drive an EV for yourself and decide whether or not it's for you.
When an Electric Car Is Wrong There are other situations in which an EV is just not going to be the car for you. For example, if you're definitely going to be on the road for more than seventy or eighty miles a day, an EV probably won’t be able to keep up with you. Similarly, if you know you're going to be driving long distances, it's better to err on the side of caution and get a car with better range.
That said, it's only a matter of time before EV ranges improve. Already, work is being done to reduce the size of the batteries and allow them to hold more charge, which translates out to less power spent and more time on the road. But, until then, look closely at your driving habits before renting any car, to make sure you rent the right one.
If you need car insurance, check out SafeAuto.com.
Tags: safe auto, safeauto, car rental, electric car
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