8 Reasons you may be driving an electric car in the near future
Pretty soon, you may be cruising around in a sweet electric car that gets 100 MPG. Why? Here are 8 reasons.
Are electric cars only for the rich? The environmentally conscious? Early tech adopters? Are they something we just watch clips about on Youtube and read articles about on Yahoo News?
That may have been accurate over the past decade, but the electric car industry is slowly but surely becoming more mainstream. What has long been an interesting concept has been held back by stark realities – lack of inventory, short ranges, inconsistent charge options, very high sticker prices.
While none of these problems have totally disappeared, they have all moved in the right direction for consumers.
That trend is only continuing. Here are 8 reasons why you may find yourself driving an electric car in the next few years.
Charging times are going down
Drivers have been accustomed to needing to refuel on gasoline every few days or weeks. With only needing a few minutes to fill-up, and with the normal expectation of not needing to encounter any lines at the gas station (save for the odd mega-storm), refueling vehicles is a quick and simple part of life.
For electric vehicles? It hasn't always been that simple.
Earlier models of electric vehicles may have called for overnight charges, even for ranges well under two hundred miles. One Ford Focus charger needed 30 hours for a full-charge that would then only deliver about 115 miles of driving range.
Things are starting to change.
New charges are trying to make things much more practical, like Tesla's "Supercharger" that would get a driver over 300 miles of range in just a 75 minute charge.
Though it will still take several years to get charge times much closer to the five minutes it takes to fuel up gas as the station, trends in charge times and delivered driving range are quickly moving in the customer's favor.
Charging stations are going up
Perhaps just as frustrating as the length of time it would take to charge your vehicle would be finding charge stations to fuel up on that electricity. Yes, installing a charger at your home might be the norm, but what about your place of business, where you vacation, or along the way on road trips?
We don't need to think about gas stations because gas stations are everywhere. And while the same global reach of charging stations might still be far off, they are still growing at a clip.
Electric stations are the fastest growing alternative fueling station in the U.S. by far, with over 50,000 stations as of 2016. This is up from about 10,000 in the year 2011. In the 2000s, electric fueling stations were virtually non-existent.
The growth trend in charging stations is being driven both by actual increased demand for electric vehicles as well as government support through legislation and funding – both in the United States and abroad. Expect the rapid growth of charging station in the past five years to continue.
Traditional gas stations are slowly decreasing
The number of electric charging stations is still far below the roughly 168,000 retail gas fueling locations in the U.S. – and not to mention that each of these locations usually have significantly more individual stations to fuel.
However, while there has been rapid growth in the electric charging stations in the past 5 or so years, gas stations have seen a small but steady decline over the last 20 years.
While there are a variety of economic and environmental reasons that contribute to this decline, it also suggest that there is a growing spot in the market for electric vehicles. If you think, There are already so many gas stations, where are these electric charging stations going to go?, the answer is that they may end up replacing a few of them.
Electric vehicle list prices have dropped
Early adoption and enthusiasm for electric vehicles can really go only as far as its ability to be reasonably marketed to the broad middle class – that huge chunk of the world's population that drives the car market. In 2010, the average price of an electric vehicle was over $75,000.
As the continued demand and growth for these vehicles has been met with economies of scale, as well as streamlined technology and better production techniques, the price of electric vehicles has dropped to under $50,000 for the average vehicle in 2010.
The Chevy Bolt, potentially the first truly mainstream entirely electric vehicle on the market, goes for $35,000, making it more affordable for those in the middle class. The Tesla Model 3 also sits right in the $35,000 range, with upgraded models costing about $10,000 on top of that.
Price per mile is falling
But the question of why more and more people are getting into electric vehicles goes beyond the list price.
While list prices have fluctuated a bit over the past three years, what has shown a consistent drop over time is the price-per-mile, or the list price divided by vehicle's range on a full charge.
This is to say that electric vehicles are becoming more functional, which is perhaps far more important to the average consumer than just the list price. If a vehicle was launched with a list price of $20,000 but only had a range of 50 to 75 miles, it's not clear that consumers would find the cost savings worth the lack of usability.
As time passes, the sweet spot between range functionality and reasonable list prices continue to move in the consumer's favor.
Governments demanding lower emissions
New government regulations in China, Europe, and parts of the United States (think California) are forcing both upstarts and major auto manufacturers to consider embracing the mainstream possibilities of electric cars.
A report from Bloomberg Finance actually predicts that between cheaper battery prices and the changing government landscape around the environment, electric vehicles will account for 54% of new car sales by the year 2040.
You don’t need to buy one to drive one
No, we aren't just talking about being in the backseat of a brand-spanking new electric vehicle while using Uber. While ridesharing has significantly changed the transportation landscape over the past few years, there are even still many other transportation models, some of which are a sort of hybrid between traditional rentals and brief Uber trips.
Some programs, like Los Angeles’ BlueLA, gives drivers the opportunity to get behind the wheel of new electric vehicles at an hourly or even a by-minute price. For those lower income folks who qualify, prices could be as low as $9 per hour or 15 cents per minute.
Those who aren't eligible for the program can still rent the vehicles for 80 cents a minute.
The success of Uber and Lyft will likely continue to lead to ideas like BlueLA in providing customers creative and cost efficient ways of using electric cars without the need to plunk down that full sticker price to do so. With a significant used electric vehicle market at least a view years off, programs like this will continue to grow and bring more and more people the option to go electric.
The opportunity for a changed approach to driving
If the limited availability of charging stations, or lengths to charge, or sticker costs were the reasons people were wary of electric cars, it's perhaps because traditional gas-fueled vehicles have shaped our habits around driving.
For one, the obvious stress around wanting more places to fuel up probably arises from the reality that none of us have fuel pumps at our homes. But imagine a reality in which driving electric cars would also come with the understanding that we can charge up every time at our house.
Second, electric vehicles release us from the fluctuating strain of volatile gas prices. Data has shown that rising gas prices are often enough for families to actually alter or cancel vacation plans altogether. With electric vehicles, consumers will be free from the constant barrage of changes in the oil market.
In fact, as demand for electric vehicles increases, this will only lead to further volatility in the oil market through reduced gasoline demand. This is only further incentive for drivers to consider making the switch.
The future is near
Over the past 15 years, the option of driving and electric car was on the periphery of consumer's minds. Would we ever be able to afford one or charge one? How practical would this ever be?
A barrage of forces, backed by the traditional auto industry, auto upstarts, the ride-share economy, and government demands, have slowly come together to create a near future where mainstream electric cars are seemingly more and more likely.
Owning or driving an electric car is becoming far more feasible and attractive for the average driver.
Will you make the change? And when? It might be closer than you think.
Source: Muzi Chevy