All-electric cars started being produced by manufacturers in the late 90s, but it has only been in the past decade where their production and sale have really started to ramp up - with some countries (like Norway) seeing a 33% market share of electric vehicles. However other country’s market shares are lower than 1%, and fossil-fuel powered cars still account for the vast majority of sales Worldwide.
So why the hype surrounding electric cars? Well, thankfully their popularity is growing, and the past few years has seen a definite uptick in interest, production and sales of electric cars.
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What Are Electric Cars?
Electric cars are plug-in machines which are propelled via electric motors, and powered via a rechargeable battery. They don’t need a tailpipe as (unlike combustion engines) no fuel is burned to drive the car forward. In general they have much lower emissions as a result, even though naturally the generation of the electricity (used to power EVs) has emissions.
Whilst electric cars aren’t ‘magically’ more powerful (after all, they’re the same size - and a similar weight - to fossil-fuel cars), they can give full power from a dead stop. In other words, when you put your foot down on the ‘gas’ (accelerate) pedal, electric cars will feel much more responsive - and seem to accelerate quicker - than fossil-fuel cars.
How Popular Are They?
As mentioned earlier, electric vehicles are quite popular in Norway - but almost unheard of in other countries. However the overall trend Worldwide is thankfully that electric cars are increasing in popularity.
1.22 million plug-in vehicles were sold in 2017, an increase of 57% on 2016’s sales figures. And the market share of electric vehicles passed 1% for the first time, in December 2017.
It’s predicted that by 2020 (aka less than 2 year’s from now), hybrid and plug-in sales will be 7.3% of the market. Whilst this is still low, it’ll mark a substantial increase from the situation just a decade ago (which seen less than 1% market share of such sales).
Are They Only For Rich People?
One of the first thing that pops into most people’s heads when they talk of electric cars is Tesla. Their most popular electric car currently is the Model S, selling for $94,000 upwards.
However there are thankfully a range of more affordable plug-ins on the market also:
- Nissan Leaf - starting from $29,900
- Renault Zoe - €23,490+ in Europe; would be similar price to the Leaf in America
- Ford Focus Electric - the electric version of this popular car starts at $29,120
- Tesla Model 3 - from $35,000 (from the traditionally-luxury car maker)
Okay, naturally you can see that there is a premium for plug-in cars, compared to more traditional cars. This is due to a range of factors, including the expensive electric car batteries, and economies of scale (the more EVs that are produced, the cheaper they will become).
However what’s key is that electric cars were - realistically - not affordable a decade ago, but now they are becoming much more affordable - especially considering the Leaf and Zoe. This trend will only continue - as our budget electric car article covers.
Downsides Of Electric Cars
Whilst there’s various benefits to electric cars, there are naturally some downsides:
- Range anxiety - electric cars still don’t have a massive range (but the technology is improving constantly), so it’s common to have to plan your journeys around the ability to get your car to a charging station, charge up (and wait a while), then continue your journey.
- Lack of charging stations - due to a lack of public charging stations (such as at shopping malls and general car parks), you’ll ideally need to install a charging station at your home. But these can be $3,000+.
- Replacing the battery - whilst electric car batteries are meant to last a long time, replacing them is definitely expensive: $5,000 for a Leaf, to 5-figures on a Tesla.