Electric Boogaloo: EVs for the Average Car Shopper

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Automakers are on the verge of revving up their electric-vehicle production efforts. Global demand is certainly growing: countries around the world are planning markets in which 100% of vehicles sold will be completely emissions-free. Norway is probably the most prominent example, having declared a 2020 deadline for 100% EV and Fuel Cell adoption. Most auto manufacturers are therefore also moving in that direction, though their timetables aren’t quite as aggressive as Norway’s. Hyundai has promised 8 plug-in hybrids and 2 all-electric models in the next 4-5 years, Volkswagen AG has pledged to offer a plug-in version of every model in its lineup by 2025, and Honda wants fully electric cars to account for two-thirds of its total sales by 2030. So within 5, 10, or 15 years, buyers can expect most new cars being produced to be battery-powered.

But many Americans still don’t see the death of internal combustion looming on the horizon, though it’s probably coming sooner than they realize. According to a ReportLinker survey, 81% of Americans are not ready to buy an EV or don’t take them seriously as purchasable options. Much of car shoppers’ reluctance toward electric cars stems from a lack of charging infrastructure across the country. But this is rapidly changing, as large-scale charging networks such as ChargePoint and Tesla’s Supercharger network expand across the country. ChargePoint alone accounts for 30,000 public charging stations; for reference, there are well over 100,000 gas stations in the U.S.; so although that charging infrastructure has a ways to go, it’s moving quickly.

Recharging infrastructure

So what’s hindering EV adoption? If automakers and infrastructure networks are prepared to move ahead full speed with a transition to non-combustion-driven automobiles, why are car shoppers still not taking EVs seriously? The fact of the matter is that many shoppers are simply uninformed when it comes to the electric-car market. Many are unfamiliar with how EVs work or which manufacturers produce them. Even though EVs are not yet the primary focus of automakers, there are currently some on the market that are definitely worth considering.

2016 Nissan Leaf

Probably the best example of an all-electric primed for mass adoption is the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf is currently the centerpiece of Nissan’s EV efforts and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Nissan has remained relatively silent about its electric future beyond incremental upgrades to the Leaf’s battery technology. As of the 2016 model, the Leaf has a range of 104 miles per charge, and future editions are expected to almost double that number. At the moment, Nissan may have the most practical all-electric vehicle on the market, so of course that vehicle is going to be a crucial part of the company’s future endeavors. The Leaf is likely to be slated as the family car of the future and marketed as a direct competitor to the upcoming Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

That’s Bolt with a “B,” not to be mistaken with Chevy’s Volt plug-in hybrid. Though the Bolt certainly looks to have a promising future – offering an impressive 200-plus miles per charge and an affordable $30,000 price tag after tax rebate – one should not overlook Chevy’s current EV offering. Though not all-electric, the Volt is one of the best choices when it comes to alleviating range anxiety. GM claims that 90% of your trips won’t use a drop of the car’s 8.9-gallon fuel tank, as its 53-mile range on a single charge is plenty for most commutes. Chevrolet’s deep dive into the all-electric world is right around the corner, and probably better thought out than those of most competitors.

2015 Ford Focus

Ford’s current EV library is thinner than most, with only a single all-electric model, a single plug-in hybrid, and no concrete announcements of anything upcoming. Ford has made it very clear that its future will be heavily saturated with electric cars to compete with Tesla and GM. In the meantime, there’s the Ford Focus Electric. The Focus Electric was Ford’s first venture into the EV market, becoming part of the Focus lineup in 2011 and currently offering a 76-mile range, along with the practicality of the Focus hatchback body. Future editions of the Focus Electric have been rumored to offer over 100 miles of range per charge, a milestone that would better align it with the rapidly improving competition. Again, it won’t be very long until EVs with mass-market appeal, longer ranges, and smaller price tags are being produced and promoted en masse to American consumers.

–John Harrington

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Used Nissan Leaf
Used Chevrolet Volt
Used Ford Focus

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