You’ve been holed up at your dtc apartment for over a week, and now it is time to drive to the Denver Convention Center to make your presentation. How can you make the biggest splash, make that the greenest splash, possible?
If you really wanted to establish your green cred, you would of course take the bus, or even better, walk. This is Denver, however, and it is January. So for this presentation, you not only need to arrive, you need to keep from freezing your tail off. Traditionally, the best way to arrive has been in the latest, most expensive new car you can. The newest electric vehicles can help out, especially on the expensive part.
Electric cars are the darlings of the sustainability set, and are creating as much or more buzz than the first hybrids did when they arrived on showroom floors. And just like the early hybrids, green minded consumers have to pay a premium to get into an EV. The cars them selves are just plain expensive to purchase. But if you can get over the initial sticker shock, EVs have the potential to pay for themselves with their overall cheaper operating costs.
Operating cost is a hidden factor that is easy to ignore when purchasing a new vehicle, and the single biggest operating cost is putting fuel in the darn thing. In most comparisons of vehicle operating costs, additional factors like vehicle depreciation and maintenance are taken into account. These are hard to quantify at this point for electrics. First of all the technology is new enough that there is no way to accurately determine depreciation rates of the vehicles. Maintenance of an EV is hard to determine as well, but theoretically the maintenance costs of an electric vehicle should be negligible in comparison with a typical vehicle, or even a hybrid. Oil changes and fuel filter changes simply don’t apply to electrics. Battery longevity and the cost of eventual replacement remains to be seen.
Looking chiefly at fuel costs then, the current electrics on the market, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, have the competition beat more than handily according to a recent report from the Consumer’s Union. The best cost per mile vehicle in their comparison was the Toyota Prius hybrid, which costs $2.59 to drive for a thirty mile trip. The Leaf and the Volt will both take you 30 mies for less than $1.20. The difference becomes more complicated on longer trips however. The full electric Leaf will only travel 70 miles before it needs to be parked for as long as 5 hours to recharge.