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Unplugged: Are Electric Cars an Affordable Option? | Trending Topics

Two of the great challenges of the 21st century are reducing gasoline consumption and providing mass affordable transportation. When identifying possible solutions, the prospect of electric cars is often discussed. Yet, despite the obvious potential of electric powered vehicles, the American public has been slow to warm to the idea. In September, less than 1 percent of all new car sales were electric. If many believe that electric cars offer the best solution to the issue of gas consumption, why are Americans avoiding electric cars? One major reason may be the cost.


While there is not a consensus on the average price of an electric car, they are on average more expensive than traditional gasoline powered vehicles. In a preview of 2016 model year electric vehicles, Green Car Reports compiled a list of all plug-in vehicles on the market. The least expensive electric vehicle costs $23,845, and many vehicles on the list cost upwards of $60,000. In fact, several electric vehicles are on the high end of the price spectrum, while only a few affordable options are currently on the market.

One major advantage to purchasing an electric car is the lower operating cost. But, calculating the exact savings can be tricky. When considering this question, Edmunds writesWhat if a gallon of gasoline cost $2 in the middle of the night, was free at lunch and set you back $8 in the afternoon? Welcome to the world of electric cars. If you buy one, the cost of a fill-up will largely depend on when and where you recharge it, not to mention the rates your utility company offers.” Electric prices can vary widely across the United States “from a kilowatt-hour average of 8.6 cents in Washington state to 37 cents in Hawaii. (A kilowatt-hour [kWh] is the amount of electrical energy consumed when 1,000 watts are used for one hour.)” Despite the wide range of electricity prices, overall electric cars are less expensive to operate when compared to gas powered vehicles.

There is a contentious debate regarding the future of electric cars.  Bloomberg estimates that electric vehicles will make up 35 percent of new car sales worldwide by 2040. OPEC, on the other hand, predicts that 94 percent of vehicles will be gas-powered in 2040. The future of electric cars will largely depend on technological advancements, such as improving an electric car’s range and creating more affordable batteries.

Electric cars may be more affordable to operate, but their high price tags make them unaffordable for most Americans. In the future, it is possible that advancements will make electric vehicles a viable alternative for the average American. However, in the present, gas continues to power the vast majority of vehicles on the road. As a way to prepare for the future, improved fuel-efficiency can be a solution to two of the major challenges of the 21st century.

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