There is an exciting line-up of environmentally-friendly electric vehicles! They’re waiting for the American public to snatch them up in droves! There’s even a tax credit for every purchase of these vehicles! They’re new, sexy, and smart! What could possibly go wrong?
For one thing, price. For another, range. And last, but not least (drum-roll please)… they are only as environmentally friendly as your neighborhood power plant.
Let’s look at price. The most affordable EV in the line-up is the Nissan Leaf at $32,280. The tax credit of $7,500 helps, but you still have to wait for your tax return before these savings are realized. $32,280 will be your up-front cost. The TV ad will claim “Only $24,780 after the federal tax credit!!!” If you finance the vehicle, that’s how much you will need to borrow. Also, don’t expect your property taxes to reflect that low, low price; your taxes will be based upon the sticker price.
Range and price vary. The Leaf claims a range of 100 miles per charge; the Chevy Volt (41,000) claims 40 miles on battery before the internal combustion engine generates electricity for the next 300. Finally, the Tesla S model ($50,000) offers a standard range of 160 miles (upgradeable to 230 or 300). The Tesla roadster sells for $100,000.
From a green technology perspective, the most troubling aspect is the source of electricity. Electricity is not a source of power, but a form of energy. It comes from somewhere else. According to the EPA’s 2008 figures (the newest available), 70% of all electricity generated in the U.S. came from coal, petroleum, natural gas, or other gasses. 26% came from nuclear and hydroelectric, and only 3% came from renewable resources.
We have our work cut out for us before EV’s are truly “environmentally friendly”. A private or public parking lot featuring car ports using solar arrays as a roof could provide environmentally-friendly power to solve the problem. However, the supply/demand and break-even analyses must be performed in a deliberate fashion. The future will come, but it may not come as quickly as we would like.
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