The delays associated with getting electric cars on the road are slowly being solved, and it won’t be long before a number of such vehicles are available to the public. With fuel prices on the rise, ecological concerns mounting and readily available oil reserves decreasing, the public is finally showing some serious interest in obtaining a little piece of the future, now.
The Nissan Leaf
With a limited release due later this year and a full US roll out to occur in 2012 the Leaf will provide a fully electric engine with a top speed of 87 mph with a range of 62-138 miles depending upon a number of conditions. The vehicle will have three levels of recharging available and require 20 hours to fully recharge at level one, eight hours at level two and only 30 minutes at level 3; level 3 is not recommended because the battery will deplete more quickly. Expect to pay about $25,000 after government rebates.
The Chevy Volt
Already on the road in limited locations, the Volt is Chevy’s new golden child. The car has a battery powered engine, but is more of a hybrid then a true electric car. The battery will take you about 35 miles on only electric power. After that a gas powered generator will power the engine for another 340 miles. The Volt will require 10 hours to fully charge on a standard household current. The base price is nearly $41,000 and some dealers are charging a premium on top of the sticker price.
The Smart Fourtwo
Available in very limited quantities at this point the Smart Fourtwo will be offered in an expanded US market during 2011. The electric sibling of the current Smart Car, the Fourtwo is available in 3 models. The driving range is between 60-100 miles, depending upon a number of factors, and top speed is only 67 mph. The car is best charged on a 220V line but can also use standard 110V household current. Base prices are $12,000-$17,000.
The Tesla Roadster
If you only want to save the planet and have no worries about saving your pocketbook, you might want to take a look at the Tesla Roadster. At $109,000 the Roadster will eat up quite a chunk of change, but with a body made entirely of carbon fiber composite, a battery that charges in just 3.5 hours on a 240V charging system, a top speed of 125 mph and a range of 245 miles, this is one hot machine.
Environmental Reasons for Electrical Cars
Oil dependency is beyond a shadow of a doubt the best reason to invest in making electric vehicles available and reliable. If the specter of the Deepwater Horizon disaster didn’t drive that home, the national security nightmare of being dependent upon foreign oil supplies should.
Arguably electric cars aren’t really “zero-emission” vehicles, as they are touted to be, since producing electricity does produce emissions; it just produces potentially less. The goal of a truly emission free car has still not been achieved, but every step towards this ideal is important.
Practical Applications for Electric Cars
In light of the fact that a majority of the available electric vehicles have a limited range and take a long time to charge properly the current crop is best suited to short distance commuting. For those drivers who desire traditional mobility from their car a hybrid is more suitable. Perhaps as batteries charge more quickly, range is improved and accessibility to charging stations increases, electric cars will be realistic for more traditional driving.
Just as occurred when hybrid vehicles first started appearing on the roads, it is the earliest buyers who will be the effective guinea pigs of what works and what doesn’t. Only time will tell how electric vehicles will fit in to the bigger picture of responsible travel.