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What Will It Take For Electric Cars To Make Great Family Cars? Page 2


2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

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EV pricing needs to come down. Ford had a better idea, pricing the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid the same as the non-hybrid MKZ. In fact, company executives were surprised at the consumer acceptance of the MKZ Hybrid – which far exceeded their projections. It all goes to show that Americans want fuel-efficient hybrids – and will buy them if the price (and other considerations are right). EVs need to go the same route if they’re to gain widespread consumer acceptance. Federal and state incentives help, but electric cars are still expensive – maybe too expensive for a great number of American families.

Americans (including politicians) have to stop yin-yanging about oil. We’re really schizophrenic in this country, worrying about the cost of oil and rushing to buy more fuel-efficient cars when gasoline gets to the $4 per gallon price and then ditching those wheels in favor of bigger and more fuel-thirsty vehicles as soon as prices go down. We’re either serious about getting independent of foreign oil – including choosing EVs in much larger numbers – or we’re not. This doesn’t begin to touch the political aspects of our nation’s energy policy, and it’s certainly not meant to. All I know as a consumer is that I’m tired of the back-and-forth. Make a decision and go for it. Who’d pay more for an EV that doesn’t meet their needs if a gasoline-powered vehicle will do the job?

Battery replacement costs need to come down. EVs run on batteries, which eventually need replacement. Eight years or 100,000 miles is great for a battery warranty, but the batteries when they do need to be replaced are expensive. I’d expect advancements in battery technology to make them more efficient and to bring the cost down to come about in the next few years – hopefully long before consumers with batteries that need replacing have to go in to have that work done, though it's uncertain if the eight-year warranty is becoming a major issue in the marketplace (many Prius owners, for example, report no loss of performance even past the eight-year mark).

Are there other concerns? I’m sure there are, but I wanted to point out what the discussions have been around my own family dinner table about electric cars and how soon they’ll be widely adopted in this country. Oh, and our own thoughts on the matter? We’re seriously looking into whether a plug-in hybrid (PHV) makes sense for us now as a second vehicle. PHVs take the worry out about range anxiety, aren’t the ideal (EVs would be), but help get us to being energy-independent (and a cleaner environment) in the meantime.

FamilyCarGuide would like to know what you think about what it will take for EVs to go mainstream as family cars. Let us know in the comments section below.

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Comments (5)
  1. I agree with all of the above points, but would like to differ a little on the first. I understand the rationale of stating 200 vs. 300 miles on a charge, bbut if you're asking what it will take to make a greate FAMILY car, it will have to be something like 300. Families take vacations, on stops are not part of the fun. Also, if charging stations only reach 80% in 30 minutes, that is cut shorter. Better drink alot to fill the time!
     
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  2. @Damien - Thanks for the comment. I actually debated whether to put 300 miles on a charge in the story as I agree with you that the 300-mark is kind of the magic number. We will get there, and the automaker that builds family EVs that go 300+ on a charge should really wind up in the catbird spot.
     
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  3. There are issues with getting more miles from an electric vehicle. An electric motor is close to 100% efficient as it is. In order to get 200 versus 100 miles from your Nissan Leaf would be to have a battery that’s twice as big and take twice as long to charge. The amount of power that today’s plug in chargers consume is about as much as a space heater. If you put in a charging system that drew more power in order to charge the battery faster, you may have to modify your home’s wiring to accommodate the increased load. Unfortunately, there is no getting around basic physics, you can’t get more energy out of a battery then how much that you put into it.
     
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  4. @John - Good points, although technology does continue to improve in battery development. That, along with aerodynamic enhancements and a few other tweaks may result in better range for EVs. We'll just have to wait and see. Thanks for your perspective.
     
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  5. Range anxiety of EV's is the primary concern.
    Me personally I would not even consider buying an EV for a number of reasons:
    -It's a shotgun wedding when ya buy an EV(ya stuck with dealer for repairs). I've seen too many dealears even try to weasel their way into not paying for items that should be covered under warranty. So not only are you dealing with EV Range Anxiety but Dealer Anxiety.
    -EV's and Hybrids will always be worth less after the warranty is over. This especially applies to the battery pack.
    -LPG/Propane IMHO will be a better alternative to EV's & Hybrids.
     
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