Hybrid and electric vehicles (EV) are gaining in popularity. This is mainly due to the short term advantages to owning those cars, which is most often a reduction in the use of fossil fuels. The question that has not yet been answered is “Are these a good long term investment?” Look at the current state of this auto technology, and where it’s going, to decide if it fits your lifestyle now.
The Benefits of Hybrids and EVs
The immediate benefit to the hybrid and EV owner is that they use little or no fossil fuels. They don’t create greenhouse gases when driven on electricity. These are the primary reasons the early-adopters of hybrids and EVs purchased their cars, says Green Conduct. Depending on a person’s view of how greenhouse gasses may affect the world’s climate, this is a long-term benefit, as well. Cities such as Los Angeles, known for high air pollution warnings, would benefit from these non-polluting cars.
By driving an electric vehicle, you’re also not consuming a finite resource, fossil fuels. A long-term benefit to the owner is the cost savings from not buying gas. They will also not be affected by dwindling supplies and higher prices.
There may be a challenge to that cost savings, however. States collect a lot of money from gas taxes, with which they make road repairs and improvements. Many states are looking at ways to collect this from hybrid and EV drivers who aren’t buying gas, and not paying those taxes. Ideas have floated around state legislatures from charging an initial fee at the time of purchase to monitoring the miles driven and charging based on that. In the future, this will reduce the cost savings experienced by hybrid and EV owners.
The Challenges in Electric Auto Technology
The battery technology is the biggest issue that both hybrids and EVs face. Current battery technology still requires several large battery cells to deliver acceptable performance. Most hybrids and EVs will get 50 to 100 miles on one charge. This will accommodate daily use in the city with recharging at home in the evening. Recharging stations are slowly making their way into the cities, but they are limited.
Long, cross country trips are not possible unless you can plan to stop and recharge at large cities along the way. Recharging stations along the interstate highway system are being planned but will be several years until fully implemented. Right now you must deal with recharging in a parking lot or outside of a business with special recharging stations.
This new technology is more expensive to repair and there are few trained service people to work on these cars. Maintenance and repairs mean a visit to the dealership and not the mechanic down the street.
They do not yet know what you can expect as the life span of these batteries. Some estimates put it at 5 to 10 years, depending on how you drive. Current EV battery prices run $12,000 to $15,000 for a replacement.
Is This New Technology for You?
These are some great short-term benefits for owning a hybrid or EV. The technology changes each year with the release of new models. If you enjoy the current cost-savings and green features of these cars, then one might be right for you. Continue to watch the changes, though, and be ready to trade in as significant advances are made. It’s possible that with the rate of changes, a “long-term” investment in a hybrid or EV may only be 3 to 5 years.