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My Opinion On Electric Cars

Introduction

Cars and their efficiency have been a hot topic for years. As we go on and gas prices increase, we are always looking for better and better ways to save money. We started out with hybrid cars that use both electricity and gas to run, but now we are finally getting to the age where cars that run solely on electricity are also becoming a viable option. With that said, there are a lot of things people do not consider when they are looking at them, and it causes a lot of confusion as to whether or not they are actually cheaper. From the outside it would seem as if they are (being that they do not use gasoline) but is this true? Through this article we are going to be looking at that, as well as other related things.

Gasoline Prices

Gasoline prices are what drive people to look for cheaper and cheaper alternatives to the cars we are used to. As gas prices keep rising, more and more people will look for more “green” solutions, or at least things that cost less. For example, many consider driving trucks to be out of the question, and instead look to smaller cars or motorcycles. This decreases the gas consumption rate and in effect boosts the user's wallets.

One of the reasons why gas goes up in price is because every year, we consume more and more of it as a whole. This takes its toll on the supply and demand side, as the demand is increasing much faster than the supply. Along with this, gas is a natural resource but it comes in a finite amount, so as time goes on and we keep draining more and more of it, at some point there will not be any left. This means any energy companies that rely solely on gas to make a living will go out of business at some point. I think this is a major part that helps drive the price up.

Electricity Prices

Electricity is somewhat cheap in most areas of the world, leading it to become a highly sought after resource for powering cars. Since electricity can be farmed using things like solar panels and wind turbines, not depleting any resources like gasoline does, this sets it up for being a resource that can be used forever without any negative consequences. As a result, car manufacturers have been working towards coming up with a way to use electricity instead of gas, or at least ways to make them complement each other to help cut down on gas consumption.

Hybrids Are Introduced

Hybrid cars were the first step towards consumer vehicles. These are vehicles that run on electricity as much as they can, but also have the ability to use gas. This led to MPG (miles per gallon) ratios that were significantly higher than most of their gas only vehicles. For example, some hybrids can get upwards of 60 MPG! Compare this to the average of cars that was less than half of that and it is pretty clear that it is a winner.

Hybrids are still somewhat rare to see while out on the road, but that was probably due to the lack of consumers understanding what they are and how they work, as well as their cost. When brand new cars can be obtained for under $15,000, it is hard to justify paying twice that for a hybrid. Over time, the cost would still be cheaper for the gas only car than hybrids in the majority of these cases. In other words, you would be paying a premium to “go green.”

There is another pretty big flaw here as well: the cost of batteries. Since hybrid vehicles do not use the same batteries we are used to having in our cars, it would make sense that they would cost more. For the Prius, for example, at one point the battery replacement was in the thousands, not to mention the cost of installation (since you really need a professional to handle that). As you probably already know, batteries also have a lifetime, which depends on how often it is drained and used. So the more you drive your car, the faster it is going to die off. Along with this, even if the car just sits, the battery will be diminished over time. In other words, you are essentially worrying about not only your car's engine and other parts going bad, but now a large battery as well!

Electric Cars Are Introduced

To build on to the hybrid arena, fully electric vehicles have started to be introduced. These use no gasoline at all, and instead rely solely on electricity. These are still in their infancy stage, although they are becoming a more and more viable option. The first electric cars could only take short trips (around 40 miles total per charge), but as of lately they are getting efficient enough to go a few hundred miles per charge. This will theoretically allow anyone to use them for getting to work or for going on trips, although they do have their flaws as well.

The big flaw is that you are relying solely on a battery to get around. If the battery goes dead while you are driving (or something happens to it), for example, you are left out in the dust. Along with this, the maintenance cost goes up because these batteries are even more custom than even the ones in hybrid vehicles. This means getting repairs and replacements done costs more.

Another thing is the cost of fully electric cars at this time. Right now we are dealing with vehicles in the luxury car range (60k+), which is not feasible for most car buyers. Hopefully this will change over time and they will become cheaper while technology continues to move forward, but at least for now they are only designed with a few niche buyers in mind.

The Cost of Electricity Vs Gasoline for Electric Cars

The whole point of going for an electric car is to cut down on expenses. Some people may go for them because of the green aspect, but that is going to be rare because the vast majority of people do not have enough money to spend more than they feel they need to. As such, pricing for the traveling is a major concern for most car buyers.

What people do not always realize, however, is the cost of electricity in regards to charging up a car. Unlike normal appliances, such as a light, computer or even a washing machine, the car charging takes up a massive amount of power and continually utilizes it. You may have something that uses a lot of power but only for a short period; that is not how the cars work.

I have not run the numbers as of lately (the last time was a couple of months ago) but based on the Tesla car (one that can go a few hundred miles per charge) the cost of electricity to fully charge it was going to be a little above what the cost of gas for our vehicles right now are. This leads to a couple of issues:

  • You have to charge up multiple times on long trips. A full car charge takes a day or so, and you have to find somewhere that will let you charge it. This is in comparison to a gas car where you can simply fill up at any gas station within a couple of minutes and be back on the road again
  • The maintenance cost on these cars is pretty large considering they need licensed professionals to deal with things like the battery. This fee alone puts the cost of ownership well above that of normal gas based vehicles

Along with these problems, there is also the cost of acquisition. As long as these electric cars are priced at around the same as luxury vehicles, the people who would be most interested (those on somewhat tight budges) simply can not jump in to the game. Those who purchase these cars right now are the same ones that just care about the environment, as there is no real financial relief for getting one.

The Future

I am really hoping that as technology moves forward, we come up with better ways to handle vehicles. While I love the concept of cars that run on nothing but electricity, I do have to fault them a little because the cost is just simply not worth it for most of us. Along with this, since they can not be used on long road trips, that makes them less feasible for people who travel a lot.

I think a couple of different things will need to happen in order to really bring electric cars to the top:

  • Less electricity usage (better miles per charge and less cost to charge)
  • Lower acquisition cost (being about on par with the “average” cars that are for sale today)
  • Lower maintenance costs and battery replacements (this should help cut out the fact that buying the car is only one part of the equation)

With all of these things in play, I think electric cars could definitely start to take over the market. I think they could become cheaper than the alternatives for purchasing, as well as be more efficient on trips and lead to cheaper traveling costs. How long it will take before they get to this point, though, is anyone's guess.

Conclusion

Electric cars are an awesome concept designed to combat rising gas prices and the ever decreasing amount of fossil fuels (which is still not too big of a problem right now but will be over time). They have been growing quite a bit since their first version, which was hybrid gas and electric vehicles. But this does not mean that they do not have their flaws.

The electric cars right now are cost prohibitive in obtaining, maintaining and driving them. The costs are so high at this point that they are on par with luxury vehicles, which goes against what we want as consumers: more efficient and cheaper cars. To get these marketed out to the general population, rather than just those with money, the cost both short and long term need to be reduced drastically.

I do not think that there will be any issue with getting these cars to where they need to be, although it will likely take a while. Technology is still moving forward at a very fast rate, so I think it is just a matter of time before the electric cars become a reality for most of us. Until then, we can look at hybrid cars and smaller gas powered ones to hold us over!

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