In the news earlier this year was the new Volkswagen Bulli
Electric cars substitute an electric battery powering a motor for an internal combustion engine. Periodically, they need to be recharged and the most common method for that is to plug into an electrical outlet. The cars have zero emissions from the tailpipe and significantly cut emissions overall. This decrease in pollutants from the vehicle and end to gasoline use is the main draws to electric cars.
Like every new piece of technology, there are downsides to these new electric cars. The biggest downside is price. The average consumer doesn't want to spend more for an electric car than a gasoline version despite all the subsidies many governments offer. The Nissan Leaf is one of the most affordable electric cars, however still costs over $30,000. A US rebate drops that $7,500 and states may have their own subsidies as well (such as California's $5,000 subsidy) that drop the car price significantly.
Another drawback is the reduced range. 'Range anxiety' stems from the concern that batteries will lose charge on a trip far from anywhere able to recharge them. And even if there is a charging station nearby, a recharge can take several hours out of a trip. One of the top cars range wise is the Tesla Roadster, at 245 miles. That is significantly less than many internal combustion cars, and in a state like Texas, won't get me out of the state. However, most electric cars are marketed as 'daily drivers' that are geared towards the average 40 mile per day commute. Also, cars can be built with battery switch technology. This gives them the ability to be swapped out (like propane fuel grill tanks), however the costs are high despite the fact that it can take as little as one minute. The US has fast charging stations being developed and should be blanketing the country by 2013 that will build an 80% charge in 30 minutes.
There are around 20 highway capable, large vehicles currently under development or in production. Their popularity will almost certainly grow as gas prices rise and resources become harder to acquire. Despite these drawbacks, electric cars seem to be the way of the future, and the kinks will be worked out, just like every other piece of technology.
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