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November 21, 2012 / Todd Larsen

Electric Vehicles Going Mainstream?

Image        Although electric vehicles have been around for decades, they have yet to make a huge impact in the competitive market. Gas guzzlers continue to dominate the roadways despite the fact that electric cars can save drivers thousands of dollars a year in fuel costs. They have been proven to be just as safe, reliable and affordable as other cars, yet there has yet to be a true electric vehicle revolution in the United States. However, two recent articles show that the market may soon start shifting towards electric over gas.

The two main arguments against electric vehicles are their unfair reputation as slow, expensive and weak cars and the lack of charging stations available for long distance driving. Articles from Motor Trend and the Huffington Post, respectively, have helped disprove these myths and point towards a bright future for electric cars.

In the January 2013 edition of Motor Trend, the magazine will name the Tesla Model S the car of the year. This marks the first time in their 64 year history that they will give the award to a car without an internal combustion engine and signals that public stereotypes against electric vehicles are becoming less prevalent. Motor Trend touts the impressive horsepower and torque of the Tesla, while also praising the storage space, sleek design and on-board navigation system. The Model S passed or exceeded all safety tests and was found to have a range of up to 265 miles with the largest battery installed. Tesla also recently unveiled 5 “Supercharger” stations (powered partially by solar panels) on the west coast that make long road trips possible, with the ability to add 160 miles to the car’s range in 30 minutes of charging. The company hopes to have 100 stations operational by 2015. After the federal tax credit, the Model S comes out to around $50,000, which is comparable with similarly designed Mercedes, BMW and Audi vehicles. Factoring in the difference in price between electric power and gasoline, Tesla owners will certainly not be disappointed with the cost or performance of their vehicle.

The Huffington Post followed this announcement by writing an article showing the progress that electric vehicle charging stations have made. National park employees across the country have begun to use solar powered stations to fuel their electric utility vehicles. Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park and Great Smoky Mountain National Park all have installed cost effective, local systems to charge their vehicles. In addition to assuring that our National Parks stay free of air pollution, these small-scale stations are providing a blueprint for future development. Having numerous compact stations throughout an area (Great Smoky Mountains National Park has 24 stations between the park and the major cities in Tennessee) can allow electric car owners to go on longer trips without having to worry about running out of battery power. Setting up this sort of infrastructure would be a revolutionary step forward for the future of electric vehicles.

Widespread adoption of electric vehicles will happen when we lower the price of these cars and increase charging station access.  Clean Energy Victory Bonds legislation will do just that.  The legislation provides for instant rebates for electric vehicle purchases, bringing down their costs at the dealership.  It also provides $500 million for the development of charging stations across the US.  While more and more people are looking at going car-free (and using mass transit, biking, and walking as their primary means of transportation), for those people who need a car, making it possible for them to drive an electric vehicle is the best way to lower their environmental footprint.  Electric cars have proven themselves to be part of the solution, now we need to pass Clean Energy Victory Bonds to accelerate the shift to cleaner cars.

 

Thanks to Matt Jennings.

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