Climate-Friendly Drivers: 10 Things to Know About Electric Cars

There are reasons that eco-friendly car buyers are reluctant to plunge into the electric car market. Here is what they need to know.

6. Electric vehicles are quiet; proposals to add sounds are on the table

Federal safety agencies are concerned that EVs pose a danger to pedestrians and cyclists — the cars are so quiet that people walking and riding bikes don’t hear them approaching. There hasn’t been much buzz recently about this, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does have some proposals on the table to pitch to lawmakers and auto manufacturers. Some of these ideas include requiring EVs (and hybrids) to emit a sound similar to a regular engine when the car is operating at low speeds.

7. Why so expensive? Start with the battery

The DOE says that before 2009, a 100-mile range electric battery cost $33,000. The price is about half that today, and the department expects it to drop to at least $10,000 by the end of 2015. Still expensive, but getting better.

Energy officials add that as much as 80 percent of the energy in the battery is transferred directly to power the car, compared with only 14 to 26 percent of the energy from gasoline-powered vehicles.

8. Getting from here to there — a gas to electric comparison

The DOE says it costs about $1 for today’s EVs to travel the same distance as a similar-sized gasoline car using a gallon of fuel. “This adds up to a savings of more than $2 a gallon or $1,000 a year in refueling costs, and the next generation of electric vehicles will bring even bigger savings,” according to Energy.gov, the DOE’s website.

9. State and local monies may be available

Beyond the $7,500 tax credit provided by the feds, electric vehicle buyers may also qualify for similar state and even local government incentives. California, for instance, offers up to a $2,500 rebate. On the more local side in the Golden State, the San Joaquin Valley Pollution Control District in central California offers a $1,000 to $3,000 rebate.

10. The first electric vehicle is very, very old

Robert Anderson invented the first primitive electric car, way back in 1832. It was a “crude electric carriage” that, nonetheless, was able to move through “non-rechargeable primary cells,” according to PBS’s “Now” program. The vehicle made technological strides over the next few decades, and the first electric taxis began operating in New York City in early 1897.

At the time, there were more EVs on New York streets than gas cars. But lacking the speed and power of gas models, they eventually became less popular. The rise of the combustion machines was at hand — Henry Ford introduced the Model T, mass-produced and affordable for many Americans, in 1908.

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