Electric car technology has been a topic of discussion for many years now, but it never seems to make its way into true mainstream thinking.
We all like the idea of a car that doesn’t run on gasoline – it’s just that we’re not convinced that the current crop of electric cars can satisfy our driving needs.
Most of them have limited range and they take forever to recharge. If that’s not enough of a deterrent there’s also the fact that charging stations are very difficult to find in most areas of the country.
These are all difficulties that can be overcome with time, but perhaps the biggest challenge has been the formidable price tag on most electric vehicles.
It seems that’s all about to change as most major car manufacturers are now introducing affordable electric vehicles with the most prominent being the announcement of Tesla’s new Model 3. Below we take a closer look at the new crop of affordable electric cars entering the market and whether or not they might convince us to make the switch.
One of the original electric vehicles that were introduced in the last few years was the Chevy Volt. This was a car with a lot of potential, but it’s not a true electric vehicle it’s actually a hybrid. Chevy’s actual entrant in the electric car market is called the Chevy Spark EV.
This is a small compact car that’s based on a gasoline-powered car of the same name. It performs pretty well and has about an 82-mile range before it is to be charged.
While quick chargers are available that allow you to charge this vehicle in about 20 to 30 minutes the standard charger it comes with will take between four and eight hours to charge which makes this vehicle less than practical for long haul drives. It’s priced quite reasonably though as it can be purchased for under $28,000.
If you’ve always wanted to own a BMW and you want to do your part for the environment as well you may want to consider the BMW i3.
This vehicle is available in a fully electric model or an electric/gas hybrid model. It gets similar mileage to the Chevy Spark EV at approximately 81 miles per charge, but if you do opt for the electric/gas hybrid version you can extend that range quite a bit.
The charging technology in this vehicle is a little better than the Chevy Spark as it will only take about three hours to charge with their standard charger. As with the Spark, they also have the option to include a rapid charging plug-in. This vehicle will cost you a little more though as it starts at about $43,000.
Fords entrant into the electric car market is the Ford focus electric. This vehicle shares a lot of features with its gas-powered cousin, but it is completely electric. It’s range isn’t quite as good as the other cars we’ve reviewed so far as you can only expect to get about 76 miles per charge.
It is considerably cheaper than the BMW i3 though at $30,000, but not quite as affordable as the Chevy Spark EV. As far as recharging is concerned you’ll need to set aside at least four hours if you want to use the optional charging station and up to 20 hours if you want to use a traditional electric plug in your garage. It’s great that the car can charge using a traditional plug, but 20 hours is a long time to wait to drive your car.
The Nissan Leaf has greater range than many of the other electric cars currently on the market. Depending on the model you choose the range may vary anywhere from 84 miles all the way up to 107 miles.
That’s not too bad, but it does take about eight hours to charge this vehicle so as is the case with many other electric vehicles it’s not really practical for long trips. You’ll want to keep this car exclusively as an urban commuter vehicle. It’s got a pretty attractive price tag for an electric vehicle at just under $30,000.
The main inspiration for this article was the announcement in early 2016 of Tesla’s new Model 3 – an affordable electric car with great range. While these vehicles aren’t yet for sale they are taking preorders and people are lining up for them as if they were the Apple iPhone.
The price is competitive with other electric vehicles on this list at $35,000, but what really impressed me was the cars potentially great range. According to Tesla, this car will be able to drive up to 215 miles on one charge making it the clear leader in the field by a mile. The neat thing about Tesla is that they have a network of electric charging stations that can charge their cars in 20 to 30 minutes. This car is a potential game changer.
The Times They Are Changing
It’s probably a little premature to say that the electric cars time has arrived, but it’s getting closer all the time. With the introduction of these affordable electric cars and the growing proliferation of charging stations in our cities, it won’t be long before the majority of people are driving electric cars.
The range may be a problem right now, but it’s something all manufacturers are working on and there is no doubt this issue will be overcome within the next couple of years.