The premise and promise of electric vehicles has received extraordinary media attention in the past decade, exciting those who believe they could be the answer to using fossil fuels in our vehicles and would keep dollars in drivers’ wallets.
It’s not happening, according to a J.D. Power and Associates study of electric vehicle (battery-powered rechargeable batteries) ownership that has received only mild media attention.
Electric vehicles became readily available two years ago and now include, among others, the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, Honda Fit and Mitsubishi MiEV mini-car. Tesla Motors now markets a high-end Model S electric hatchback.
Volkswagen is testing an electric Golf.
While it sounds like a trend, newspaper accounts of the J.D. Power study note sales have been anemic so far, all below manufacturer predictions.
What continues to sell well are gasoline/electric hybrids, where Toyota leads the way with the Prius and other hybrids.
Buyers of electric cars often do so for environmental reasons, citing the lack of emissions from electric only vehicles. But those who are thinking of buying an electric car are primarily thinking of saving money on gas, and like some hybrids, the payoff in gasoline savings is years past the purchase.
Here’s what the study said.
“EV owners report an average monthly increase in their utility bill of just $18 to recharge their vehicle’s battery, which is significantly less than the $147 that they would typically pay for gasoline during the same period.”
But how long does it take to earn back that $129 a month savings?
Since an electric-only (and many hybrids) cost as much as $10,000 more than a similar gas-powered vehicle, it would take average of 6.5 years to recoup the additional money paid for the electric vehicle. Many owners buy a new car every four to five years.
So unless the cost of the batteries in the electric vehicles is reduced, it isn’t a good financial decision and none of this measures the inconvenience of recharging the vehicle’s battery.
Being green can be costly.