While electric cars have been in the pipeline for decades, the advent of all-electric cars is just now arriving. Despite the plaudits from environmentalists and others with an interest in reducing fossil fuel consumption, however, the first generation of electric cars could disappoint the driving public, according to U.S. News and World Report columnist Rick Newman.
"The hype over [electrical vehicles] will reach a crescendo over the next couple of months, as the [Nissan] Leaf and [Chevrolet] Volt start to arrive in showrooms, commercials air, enthusiasts cheer, and the press fawns. But before long, you might start to wonder why they're so scarce on the roads," Newman warns.
He writes that car owners, despite significant tax breaks provided by the government for electric car purchases, will still find them quite expensive, factoring in the additional costs for the batteries and the usual additions like maintenance and car insurance. The battery for a fully electric car can be very expensive in and of itself, Newman writes, ranging from $10,000 to $15,000.
Limited range could also be a factor in slowing the adoption of electric cars, according to Newman, who points out that the Volt can only make it 40 miles without having to recharge, though it does have a backup gasoline engine. While the Leaf ups that battery life to 100 miles, it's still not enough for road trips.
In addition, the environmental benefits of an electric car are unlikely to convince American drivers to buy one on their own, Newman writes. Besides that, he adds, the electricity used to power the Leaf and the Volt will still have to be generated somehow, probably even by fossil fuels in many cases.