Electric cars catching on after a slow first century

By Octavio Lopez

You plug in your phone, you plug in your computer, so why not plug in your car? Electric cars are into the second generation and are not as risky to own anymore.

Many people believe electric cars have only been around for a few years. In reality, the electric car was first made back in the 1890’s,  along with the steam powered cars and those that were powered by internal combustion engines.

At first the electric car was more convenient than steam and combustion because they were easier to start and a little more efficient. Once the combustion engine was paired with a self-starter, people became more interested in purchasing those vehicles. The combustion engine cars became the standard and every car manufacturer began investing money into developing the combustion engines.

The electric motor would have a few developments every now and then but not enough to make it a possible alternative. The battery in the electric motor had a small range and took long to charge and in a fast-paced world, that was inconvenient.

In 2009, President Barack Obama announced a policy to push car companies to make cars that have a minimum fuel-efficiency standard of 35.5 miles-per-gallon. Later that year, the U.S. Department of Energy awards Ford, Nissan and Tesla $8 billion for the development of fuel-efficient vehicles.

The British government also announced that it would promote the purchase of electric vehicles by offering subsidies to the buyers.

Only recently have electric cars begun to meet the convenience that people want. Fully electric vehicles like a Tesla can drive 300 miles on an eight-hour charge from a standard wall outlet. If there’s a Tesla Supercharger Station available, the charge can take fewer than two hours. Unfortunately, the cheapest Tesla is still around $40,000. As electric cars become more available they will drop in price, industry experts predict.

Customers prefer to look at the Corvette instead of the electric Chevy Volt (Photo by Octavio Lopez/ Arizona Sonora News Service

Electric vehicles have good warranties on the batteries. Most car companies will replace the battery if there was total failure and some even offer a replacement of the battery has lost its range capacity. Chevrolet offer an 8-year/100,000 mile warranty for their all-electric vehicle the Chevy Bolt

When it comes to the maintenance of the vehicle, all that really needs to be replaced are the tires, brakes pads, and some air conditioning maintenance but it’s typically several years before having to replace any of these.

Benjamin Nead, a University of Arizona employee who has been following the electric car for many years, talked about his experiences as an EV owner. He owns a Mitsubishi I-MiEV, a small 5-door hatchback, which he has very high praises for. According to Nead, his EV car is less expensive car to operate than any normal car on the road.

Any time he is going to use his car, all he has to do is plug it in the night before and it’ll charge completely overnight. If he is in sudden need of a charging station, he can just pull up the PlugShare app on his phone and it’ll locate every charging station for him.

“Electric cars are the new trend,” Nead said “the batteries that power the vehicle will become cheaper and by 2023 most EV’s will become as affordable as gas cars.”

Alfredo Lio, an auto vehicle salesman for O’Reilly Chevrolet in Tucson, says his agency has sold about 35 electric vehicles over the past five years. They haven’t really seen an increase in electric car sales, instead its been a steady six or seven cars per year.

“The customers that are looking to buy those electric cars have pretty much done the research on them so we just have to provide the car,” Lio said. “It’s very hard to sway customers to buy electric cars and there’s no incentive for us to sell one, so we just try to sell any car.”

About Arizona Sonora News 99 Articles
Arizona Sonora News Service offers the best written and multimedia journalism being produced by students at the University of Arizona School of Journalism. Writers produce original content during the fall and spring semesters, and also draw original material from Journalism School media: The Tombstone Epitaph, El Independiente, Arizona Cat’s Eye.