Four Common Misconceptions of the Electric Car

electic-car-smThe pace of innovation never ceases to amaze.  However, the rate of technology adoption often fails to keep pace with rate of development.  In order for an emerging technological advancement to break through into the mainstream, it must provide a clear benefit to the multitudes of potential users, be relatively easy to understand, and, of course, fall within the budget constraints of the average individual.  Meeting such criteria is difficult with transformative innovations.  Early iterations are often less user-friendly and more costly than later rollouts, and many people resist changing from something they’re familiar with to something unknown.

Such has been the case for many years with the fully electric car, despite the increasing popularity of hybrid vehicles.  Serious pushes were made to develop commercially viable fully-electric automobiles by manufacturers in the early 1990’s, but after 25 years, little progress has been made.  According to a study from the Union of Concerned Scientists, less than 1 percent of Americans own an electric vehicle (EV), despite the fact that today’s EVs would be practical for up to 42 percent of households.

So why are so few Americans purchasing electric vehicles, despite findings that so many could benefit from having one?  One reason is that many simply don’t know the current facts when it comes to EVs, instead opting to hold on to perceptions that are no longer accurate.

Here are four common misconceptions Americans still believe to be true about electric cars.

There aren’t any affordable electric cars on the market today.

One of the biggest expenses associated with the manufacturing electric cars is the battery cell that powers the vehicle.  Over the last five years, the cost of batteries has dropped significantly.  In 2010, the average EV battery cost $1000 per kilowatt hour (kWh).  That number is down to $350 per kWh today.  As a result, there are now numerous fully-electric cars available on the market today in priced within the budget of many car buyers.

There aren’t enough charging stations to meet most drivers’ needs.

Not only are many electric vehicle owners charging their vehicles conveniently at home, there are more public charging stations than ever.  In fact, there are now 16,000 charging stations around the country today–40 times the infrastructure available in 2008.  Furthermore, the Department of Energy recently announced that additional charging stations have been added to its $4.5 billion loan guarantee program.  In a similar move, President Obama recently unveiled a partnership with over 50 automakers, utilities, states and charging station manufacturers to further increase availability.  In most parts of the country, vehicle owners already have the infrastructure needed to make sure they never run out of juice.  But with the new initiatives taking effect, electric car shoppers in the areas where there are currently fewer charging stations won’t have to wait long for charging stations to be near them.

Electric cars don’t travel far enough to be considered a viable everyday vehicle.

While most EVs on the market today don’t top a 100 mile range, 92 percent of commuters travel fewer than 35 miles every day, making electric cars viable as a day-to-day option.  Larry Nitz, the director of global transmissions and electrification for General Motors, believes that mainstream consumers begin viewing EVs as viable once drivers can get 200 miles out of a charge, which some cars do offer.  Manufacturers are already working on 300 mile vehicles, and for the average consumer there are electric cars available that can meet daily commuting needs for the same price as traditional gasoline-powered alternatives.

Recharging electric cars is too expensive.

How much do you spend every time you fill up your gas tank?  If you had an electric car, you would spend about $3.50 for every 100 miles you drive, a sizable cost reduction from gasoline-powered alternatives.  If you’re doing your charging at home, you may be able to offset your electricity usage with solar panels.  There are many locations and businesses that will even let you charge your vehicle for free.

Both the price and efficiency of electric cars have made sizeable advances in the last several years.  Despite that fact, consumers have yet to fully embrace EVs.  But Tesla and Chevy have indicated that they are both bringing vehicles to market within the next year that will be in the same price range as many popular traditional cars and feature a range over 200 miles, which could begin changing many minds.

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