1. HOW THE HECK IT WORKS
In a (layman’s) nutshell…Rechargeable batteries provide electricity to a controller, which powers a motor, which, in turn, spins the wheels. Yup, that’s it. Instead of filling up with gas, batteries are “filled up” with electricity. Recharging can be done by plugging into a normal 120- or 240-volt electrical outlet and takes anywhere from 4–10 hours.
2. HOW FAR CAN IT GO
Though driving range might vary depending on the type of vehicle and batteries, most EVs can go 80–100 miles on a single charge. And while that’s not sufficient for a Thelma & Louise-type adventure, for the general population, it’s plenty of power to get to work and home again with a few errands in between. Plus, similar to fuel-powered cars, the way you drive an electric car can affect battery efficiency.
3. HOW SAFE IT IS
Because there are 3 different categories of electric cars – Highway Capable, 3-wheeled “motorcycles,” and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) – safety standards vary somewhat. Low-speed NEVs and 3-wheeled vehicles are currently subject to different requirements, but all highway-capable electric vehicles are regulated by the same standards as gas-powered vehicles. And in fact, in March of this year, 41 countries met in Geneva and agreed on international safety standards for fully electric vehicles.
4. HOW MUCH IT COSTS
Until recently, the Tesla Roadster was one of the few highway-worthy EVs on the market. And at $110K a pop, it was about as accessible as a NASA space shuttle. But with the Chevy Volt expected to hit showrooms later this year at the high end of $30K, and the Nissan LEAF scheduled for a December release at around $28–35K, electric cars are becoming more and more affordable.
5. HOW MUCH IT SAVES
Subtract from these prices the $7,500 federal tax credit you’ll get if you buy an electric car before the end of 2011, and the odds of being able to afford an EV in the near future jump from out-of-this-world to pretty-darn-good. And that’s without mentioning how much you can save on gas and maintenance.
5.1 HOW IT ALL ADDS UP
Electrical vehicles are 100% emission-free and 97% cleaner than gas-powered vehicles. According to Scientific American.com, the cost of charging an electric vehicle is equivalent to paying 75 cents per gallon in gas. Over the life of a vehicle, the total “fuel” savings are likely to be thousands of dollars. They’re also 3 times as efficient. It all adds up to a happier, richer you and a happier, richer planet.