The automotive industry is gearing up to play a major role in ‘green energy’ development. The lack of sustainability and environmental impact of fossil fuel usage has prompted scientists, environmentalists and automobile manufacturers to develop cars that will dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Electric cars may not be the ultimate solution, but many in the industry believe they’re part of the equation. Over the last decade, advances in green automotive technology have made electric automobiles available to consumers on an unprecedented scale.
The Benefits and Challenges of Electric Cars
Electric cars have distinct environmental advantages over traditional automobiles. According to the Electric Vehicles Association of Canada (EVAC), a car powered by electricity generated by a coal plant will produce about half the carbon emissions of a traditional gas-powered vehicle. A 50 percent decrease in emissions is an excellent start, but electric vehicles come with certain limitations.
The problem isn’t with the engineering or design of this new class of vehicle – the car itself is relatively simple. The primary roadblock to electric car adoption is the lack of existing infrastructure. We take it for granted that there’s a gas station on almost every corner, but electric car charging stations are few and far between.
Recharge While You Sleep
One way to handle electric vehicle charging is to recharge the vehicle at home through the local electrical outlet. This method has several advantages like nighttime charging for daytime driving (just like your cell phone) and existing electrical infrastructure. Ideally, the electric car would be plugged into a 120 or 240 volt outlet, just like a washing machine or hair dryer, with no added installation required. That’s not yet the reality, however. Most electric cars on the market require the installation of an electric vehicle charging station which can cost about $2,000.
Recharge on the Road
Charging your car at home is great if you don’t travel far, but what if you run out of juice away from the house? For electric cars to surpass gas-powered cars in market share, a standardized system of charging stations will have to be in place. Several green-minded cities like San Francisco have installed a network of public charging stations and other cities have proposed similar plans. But for now it’s just a plan and not a reality.
If you do buy an electric car, be sure to speak with your insurance agent about car insurance options. There may be policy provisions specific to electric vehicles, so check out online auto insurance quotes to help choose the best plan for your battery-powered ride.