The rebirth of the electric car

In 2006, a group of Hollywood stars got together and spoke their minds about the death of the electric car. Just a handful of years ago, production of the electric car was shelved in favor of much more user-friendly hybrid vehicles, and environmentalists were unable to suppress their outcry of anguish. While a hybrid vehicle leaves a smaller carbon footprint than a traditional gas vehicle, an electric car produces very little harmful emissions that have contributed to the destruction of the ozone layer.

Shortly after the movie was released, the electric car idea was dusted off and readied once again, for production. For many years, the formula was tweaked and perfected, thus ensuring the creation of a perfect combination of environmental friendliness and newfangled technology. As more automakers sign on and add an electric model to their roster, is this the time for the rebirth of the electric car?

The electric car offering is not without disadvantages, however. Depending on the build of the electric car, temperatures of the extreme low or extreme high variety can affect the mileage offered from a single charge. Most electric models also come with a high price tag, but there are significant tax credits should buyers take the jump. In addition to the aforementioned drawbacks is the limited distance a driver can travel with an electric car.

While there are certain factors that make the electric car impractical for long distance commuters or people living in cities that experience extreme temperature changes, it does possess a great deal of positive features as well. The potential for the electric car to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels is great, and the tax credits offered for purchasers can’t hurt in sweetening the deal.

Some of the world’s highest rated automakers have been offering hybrid models for years, but recently, the production and necessity for a completely electric model has increased. The car industry is centered on supply and demand, and recently the demand has been met with a handful of models from the majority of car manufacturers.

BMW stepped up to the plate with the I3, a sporty but quirky looking car that offers approximately 80 miles on a single charge. While it may not seem all that practical for a road tripping car, for quick jaunts around town, this is the perfect vehicle for the environmentally friendly driver. Another plus of the electric car is that more major highways are offering charging stations, thus extending the battery life during an average drive or even opening up the possibility of a speedy trip out of town.  Due to the construction of the car, temperature changes should have little to no effect on this car’s maximum mileage.

Chevy also added a purely electric car to their lineup with the Spark. A tiny and unusual looking car, the Spark packs a major punch in terms of range. Meeting BMW’s 80 mile range with much less car, Chevy has made a bold step in the right direction since the release of the gasoline and electric offering of the Volt. The Spark slides into a moderately priced range, maxes out on power, and is one of few electric cars that can be considered truly stylish in appearance.

Fiat’s 500e is cute, compact, and smacks of Italian styling. Perfect for the young or the young-at-heart, the 500e offers an incredible nearly 90 miles per charge. Fiat’s electric car is lightweight and moderately powerful for its size. This offering can reach a full charge in under 4 hours, and a quick one hour charge will quickly add 20 miles! Relatively small in comparison to BMW’s electric model, the Fiat 500e is clearly built for short distance driving.

Not wanting to be left behind, the Japanese automaker, Nissan showed up with their contribution, the Leaf. With a cute and charming name, a somewhat boxy design, and an impressive 84 miles per charge, the Leaf is also the most accommodating for a regular driver. The Leaf can offer comfortable seating for five, a far cry from the Fiat offering. Nissan has also made an effort to fix charging issues occurring on previous versions of the Leaf, meeting with other cars’ standard charging increases per hour.

Volkswagen has also entered the market with an electric version of a current model, the Golf. This electric version of an existing car means that Volkswagen didn’t have to sacrifice any styling in order to produce the car; this looks like other versions of the Golf with a different intake, grille, and headlights, but offers 83 miles per charge.   With a top speed of 87 miles per hour, this Golf also offers an “eco” mode that will reduce the performance of the air conditioner in favor of higher engine performance.

More electric cars are being added to carmakers lineups in coming years, and the anticipation of additions from other car giants is heightening. If hybrids were the wave of the future in the early years of 2000, the electric car is splashing onto shores for the second decade. Surf’s up!

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