By Larry Hightower
There is no doubt that electric vehicles are the future. The question is, how far in the future? Maybe sooner than you think.
Earlier this month the United Nations released a study on the environment. Some scientists described the report as “Code Red,” essentially saying act now—or else. The $2 trillion infrastructure package under consideration in Washington includes $174 billion to shift more Americans to buying electric vehicles (EVs). On August 4, President Biden signed an executive order seeking to make half of the country’s auto fleet electric by 2030.
Hybrid cars and trucks have reached a high level of acceptance, led by the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight. Hybrids reduce air pollution as well as noise pollution.
Tesla offers four models of EVs. Until recently, their only significant competitors were the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt and Ford Mustang Mach-E. The field has become more crowded with Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Jeep, Karma, Land Rover, Lincoln, Polestar, Porsche and Volvo. Auto analysts expect that list to greatly expand by 2023. With a few exceptions, most vehicles fit in the sedan, coupe or crossover categories. For those looking for a pickup truck, the Ford F-150 Lightning will offer an EV version of their most popular product. An EV model of the Chevrolet Silverado will be coming out to compete. Price ranges, as with combustion engines, run the gamut.
EVs offer considerable savings on operating costs. Fully charging a nearly depleted battery generally runs between one-third and one-half the cost of a gasoline fill-up. The lack of a traditional engine also dramatically reduces maintenance expenses, plus tax credits of $7,500 are available on many vehicles.
Great upsides, right? Here’s the flip side of the coin. Although fuel range gets better with each new innovation, it’s still limited. The lack of quick charge fueling stations outside the metro area is also a limiting factor. The term “quick charge” is relative. As opposed to an overnight charge in your garage, commercial quick charge stations take 35-40 minutes to take a depleted battery up to 80%. Weather conditions also take a toll on battery power. If you’re driving to St. Louis on a hot or cold day, you should probably allow for a 40-minute stop along the way.
Ray Arriaga , sales manager at Cable Dahmer Chevrolet, notes that shoppers for Bolts tend to come from one of two subsets–young adults with an interest in the environment or older adults who are retired or have a limited commute. Mike Neidel at State Line Nissan adds that education level may also be a factor. “We understand that Leafs sell very well in college towns like Lawrence, Lincoln and Columbia.”
It’s nearly certain the future will bring improved battery life, faster charging times and more fueling stations. As gas prices rise (37% higher this year than the last, says AAA), many will think about switching to an electric or hybrid vehicle to save money–and our planet.