A beginner’s guide to electric cars

Metro Service
Individuals who travel 80 miles or less per day may find pure electric vehicles advantageous.

■ Metro service

Electric or hybrid vehicles can be smart additions to eco-friendly lifestyles. Although such cars were once science fiction, EVs are now increasingly more common and traversing roadways around the world. Thanks to several mainstream brands offering EVs and hybrid models, consumers are more informed than ever before about the benefits of a plugged-in ride.
Still, even with the wealth of information available, some people still may be unsure about what owning an EV entails and how to make informed decisions when shopping for such vehicles. Going electric means thinking beyond the gas station. Here’s how to navigate the ins and outs of EVs.
Type of vehicle: First consider that not all EVs are the same. Hybrid vehicles use a mix of gasoline and electricity and tend to have long fuel ranges. All-electric cars will only use electricity that is gained through charging the vehicle for a certain period of time.
Affordability: Consumers can expect to pay more for electric and hybrid vehicles than gas-powered vehicles. But as demand increases, costs may drop. According to a report from USA Today, estimates point to EVs as being as affordable as gas vehicles by 2021. Another consideration is there may be tax incentives for purchasing an EV. Speak with a tax professional to see if this is applicable.
Environmental savings: Electric cars produce no emissions from the tailpipe and reduce dependency on oil-based fuels. Furthermore, EVs will not need oil changes or emissions checks that traditional cars require, further saving resources. The resource Plug in Cars says that EVs can also save on fuel costs, ranging at 2 cents per mile traveled, compared to 12 cents for gas-fueled vehicles.
Fill-ups: EVs can be charged at home using personal charging kits or at charging stations in the neighborhood. Charge times will depend on the size of the vehicle and its battery. According to TheChargingPoint.com, an EV resource, the typical time for an all-electric car using a standard UK home wall socket is between 6 and 8 hours. Some new EVs can be charged in 30 minutes to an hour at rapid charging points.
Solar + EVs = savings: Consumer Reports advises that, when EVs are combined with home solar systems, “fuel” costs can be completely eliminated. That financial gain can be a big motivator for some consumers.
Short trips: Individuals who travel 80 miles or less per day may find pure electric vehicles advantageous. Those who have to go further should consider hybrids that offer greater range. However, Tesla, Chevy and Nissan EVs have recently moved beyond the 200-mile range before requiring a charge.
Charging stations: A report from University of Michigan researchers using data from the Department of Energy suggests that there are now roughly 16,000 public electric vehicle charging stations with about 43,000 connectors in the United States. ChargeHub, with information from the Canadian Automobile Association, states there are a total of 6,473 EV chargers across Canada.
Electric and hybrid vehicles could be the wave of the future as more people embrace the convenience these cars offer.

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