Only a couple of decades ago electric cars were thought of as a futuristic idea rather than an imminent reality. Popular thinking was that only the wealthy would own an electric vehicle, but they would be out of reach for the average car owner.

Fast forward to 2016 and as of September, of this past year, more than 1.5 million electric (including hybrid) cars travel our roadways worldwide. They are becoming the norm.

Our local plumbing contractors from Johnson’s Plumbing and Heating drive a fleet of electrically charged vehicles. When asked about his long-term investment, owner Ken Johnson said it was already paying off.

His annual fuel bill has practically disappeared, but the costs of his charging stations – of which he has two, are keeping his overhead high. He anticipates a break-even point within the first 6 years of doing business. With an average lifespan of 20 years per truck, Ken considers that a good pay off.

The Tesla Roadster was the first to get attention back in 2008. It was purchased by celebrities and high-powered CEOs or trust fund babies. True to the common thinking, only the elites were in the market to pay to be cool. Quiet and sleek and a definite status symbol sales overall were weak. Eight years ago, there were no public charging stations and only a few hours or a hundred miles on a single charge meant they were far from practical.

Nissan Leaf has become popular in the US. California has more electric cars than the other 49 States combined and the Leaf is ubiquitous in these parts. Now with the ability to go 107 miles between charges its practicality has made it more popular.

As is the case with most electric cars, driving city streets can eek out a few extra miles rather than highway driving. Its small, compact body style is nothing to rave about, but the lack of wind resistance is the point of the smooth, curved body shell. It’s pricey for a bare bones model starting at close to 31,000K US.

Chevy Volt is a true hybrid. Getting 53 miles (85km) to a full charge the gasoline engine can then take over at a predetermined threshold before the entire battery life is expelled. General Motors prefers to avoid the term hybrid when describing the Volt, but the fact remains that the energy storage system is reliant on the internal combustion engine that operates independently when going at high speeds to improve performance.

When it comes to traffic, emissions are one of the biggest concerns. The overall commute of traffic throughout the world has hit an all-time high making air quality a primary consideration. Elimination or reduction of greenhouse gases can be affected with fewer fossil fuel burning vehicles.

The number of vehicles has grown and the problem of air pollution has grown with it. One of the most prominent offenders in this arena is China and as of last year, China now is among the top 3 countries in the world buying more electric cars.

It may take a while for the electric/hybrid car to make its full impact, but it will be interesting to watch over the next 10 years as most of the major car manufactures are becoming more invested in this endeavor.

Even with charging stations now located practically outside of every super mall, the electric car still has a way to go before we see one in every garage. Lighter materials, more automation, and better batteries. Extending battery life is the major obstacle along with getting the price point down.

Do you drive and electric vehicle? What’s been your experience? Leave a comment below.

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