Wednesday, February 15, 2012

EV Cars Tax Credit Increase Proposed, Are EV Cars a Solution to the Future?

In an effort to increase the amount of electric vehicles on the road, the Obama Administration announced it would like to increase the current tax credit for EV cars from $7,500 to $10,000.

An article by the Detroit Free Press states President Obama would like to see "...1 million advanced-technology vehicles on U.S. Roads by 2015."  The proposal also includes a recommendation for increasing staff members to continue loans for advanced vehicle manufacturing.  There was no word on how much the tax credit would affect the government's budget. 
We don't want to get involved with politics since we are an automotive blog, but we do have a few questions of our own concerning the language of the proposal and also about EV/hybrid cars in general. 

What isn't clear to us, is what constitutes "advanced-technology?"  Would that include hybrid cars already on the road, or is it purely for EV cars only?  Will advanced combustion engine technologies like start-stop functions and direct injection count? 

The main caveat with EV cars today is their range.  A strictly EV car usually cannot go farther than 100 miles, and there aren't many charging stations for the general public yet.  How much does the advertised range diminish if the vehicle is driven at night or has the air conditioning/heater on?  Range anxiety would be at a maximum if a driver were stuck in stop and go traffic on a hot or cold evening.  Also, everyone who has owned a cell phone knows that the battery gets weaker and weaker, and eventually cannot hold a charge.  Will EV cars suffer from the same dilemma, and if that happens, how much is the replacement for the battery system?  At least with an internal combustion car, a driver can limp the car along until the compression goes out which is long after the warning signs appear.  Are drivers of EV cars going to receive such warnings of a battery beginning to not hold its charge? 

Chevrolet Volt is being heavily promoted with plenty of ads on TV. 
We do applaud the work that is being done to promote cleaner air, but in some aspects it feels like the general public is being forced to like some of the ideas without the ideas even being proven they work.  Could that be why that some of the strictly EV only manufacturers are struggling?  Remember GM's original EV1 from the late 1990s?  That project wasn't what we would call a complete success, and it was hampered by overheated batteries with limited range.  The heavily promoted Chevrolet Volt has a gasoline engine to charge the battery, and that basically makes it a hybrid which seems like the only way to make an EV car an "everyday" car.  

The question we pose to people who may consider buying a hybrid or EV car, is that while these cars may save on gasoline costs, what about the environmental impact for disposal of the battery packs once they wear out along with the replacement costs?  With diesels achieving similar mpg figures, why not choose those?  Yes, diesel fuel does cost more, however diesel engines last much longer than gasoline engines with some going up to 400,000 miles before needing to be rebuilt.  That kind of durability means the engine may outlast the chassis or the owner.  
Nissan's Leaf is the first mass produced EV car for the general public.
Another point we would like to raise is that the battery packs weigh down the car which increases wear on the tires, brakes and other components, and batteries also intrude on cargo capacity.  Take for instance the aforementioned Volt, and Nissan's Leaf.  The Volt weighs approximately 3,781 pounds according to the manufacturer, and the Leaf is quoted at 3,366 pounds according to Nissan.   We wonder if that is also something people take into consideration when purchasing a hybrid or EV car. 

We hope the points we brought up has started you to think about both sides of the coin.  What are your thoughts on EV and hybrid vehicles?  Are you sold on them as is, or are there things you would like to see different?  Maybe you don't like them at all, or you love them.  Let us know where you stand!  Happy motoring and keep on driving! 

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