The Road Ahead for Electric Cars

ev-plug
ev-plug

Even with the major developments in electric and plug-in vehicle technology, there is still a great chasm of ignorance and apathy for this vehicle market segment with the general motoring public. This was concluded after a study was conducted by the Indiana University of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The study was comprised of a survey of 2,300 adult drivers, in twenty one American cities conducted during the fall of 2011. As a whole, the survey provides a rare glimpse into current driver sentiment, albeit eighteen months ago. Despite major advertising splash was undertaken for the marketing of the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, this resulted in a modest increase in awareness according to the study’s researchers.

According to John Graham, current Dean of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, “Based on sales data of electric vehicles and subsequent surveys, we would be very surprised if the result would be much different today than in August 2011.”

The study results raised the following question: If the respondents know so little about electric cars, what is the basis of the responses provided. The only possible explanation would be the presence of preconceived notions about electric vehicles, some of which may not necessarily be based on actual fact.

Dr. Graham adds, “We found substantial factual misunderstandings of electric cars in our sample of 2,000. In some cases, the misunderstandings would cause one to be more pessimistic about the vehicle than they should be. And in other cases, it would cause more people to be more optimistic than they should be.”

He further observed that many individuals underestimate the price premium that comes with plug-in electric vehicles. While the survey respondents know that the electric vehicles have a higher sticker price, averaging not just a few thousands compared to ordinary internal combustion engines. This result in the phenomenon called ‘sticker shock’, making potential buyers walk away from a bargain in the long run.

Another observation is the lack of understanding by mainstream car purchasers as to the ability of the vehicle to recoup initial upfront costs. These costs are recovered because of the ever increasing gas pump prices, which are turned into savings because of the switch from fossil to electric battery power. He added, “They don’t realize how cheap the electricity is. And it is very cheap, like 70 to 80 percent less expensive on a per mile basis than gasoline on average.”

The study believes that increased familiarity and more exposure to these kinds of vehicle platforms would result in an increased rate of acceptance for the technology, removing it from being alternative into becoming mainstream. He said, “That would definitely be the case. But it’s going to be a decade before we figure out of plug-in vehicles can become the norm, rather than an interesting curiosity of a niche buyer.”

Ford Focus Electric For Sale

Ford Focus ST
Ford Focus ST

Ford Motor Company has recently opened its doors to take orders for its all-electric Ford Focus Electric. The electric car is priced at $39,995 inclusive of a $795 destination fee. The announcement is low-key compared to its competitors, namely the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf who were sold in a staggered rollout in 2010.

Taking into account federal incentives set at $7,500, the Ford Focus Electric still would come at about $3,900 pricier compared to the 2012 Nissan Leaf SV. The Volt on the other hand reduced its price from $41,000 to $39,995 last June.

The Ford Focus Electric is powered by a 92-kilowatt electric motor producing an equivalent 123 horsepower of torque. The engine gets its power from a 23-kilowatt hour lithium ion battery pack that is liquid cooled, unlike its competitors who have it air-cooled. There is still no official estimation from Ford as to its range, saying that it is comparable to the competition. Ford says the top speed of the Focus Electric is at 84 miles per hour. The Focus would not be compatible with D.C. fast chargers but has an optional 240-volt charger in just three hours, according to the automaker.

Other inclusions in the Ford Focus Electric includes the MyFord Touch driver connect system specific for electric vehicles. This system provides information such as the state of charge of the battery, distance to charge points, range budget and expected range margin. There is also a feature allowing to determine the electrical demands of the vehicle, such as airconditioning, radio and other electrical appliances that can affect overall driving range. The system can be customized to suit the needs of the owner according to the daily, weekly or monthly driving needs.

The value charging system of the car is designed by Microsoft and there is a smart phone application called the MyFord Mobile allowing the owners to control and charge their vehicles remotely.  There is also a touch based Navigation system using the stock eight-inch touch screen. With the system, the driver adds on information such as destination and next charging station providing advice to optimize the available resources of the vehicle.

This vehicle is a five-door hatchback, similar to the Nissan Leaf design. The electric car revolution has clearly rolled out and is coming your way.

Electric Car Insurance Issues

CARinsurance
CARinsurance

British drivers would receive between £2,000 (US$2,900) and £5,000 (US$7,300) as subsidies when they purchase electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. This grant was announced by Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon as the government pushes for the use of electric cars in the country’s roadways.

Current statistics indicate that this market is an untapped area as there are less than 0.1% electric cars among the current registered vehicles in the UK. This though, has created a new area of concern that is the insurance coverage for these kinds of vehicles.

One fourth of the fixed costs of owning a car in the UK goes to insurance. Not many in the insurance industry offers electric car insurance and if a company does, its coverage is lower than the conventional internal combustion car coverage. This offer applies only if the electric car is the secondary vehicle of the family. Because of the increased safety features, electric car insurance also comes at a discount.

Because of the unique configuration of the vehicle, finding the right insurance coverage would be like looking for insurance on one of a kind or specific requirement coverage. It is thus imperative that your insurance company has knowledge on the workings of an electric car and the coverage requirements. Also important is the owner’s track record as a driver. There is a growing conclusion that electric vehicle owners are quite dependable and responsible. Also, make sure of the liquidity of the insurance company as it would be a problem if they were unable to satisfy your claim.

Another issue would be the cost of repairs for an electric vehicle. While this is a common concern for most insurances, the highly technical nature of the vehicle would surely drive repairs cost for the insurer. This would only be for the short term as the popularity of the vehicle increases, so would the cost of repairing the vehicle decrease. As this happens, the premiums of the electric car insurance coverage would certainly decrease along with the trend.