Electric Powered Vehicles: Hype or the Future?

It’s election year, so why wouldn’t politicians jump on an easy target to benefit their agendas? Lets face it, life revolves around the all mighty dollar and, in too many cases, greed and power. We as consumers need to peel away the BS and discover for ourselves if electric powered spray on bedliner could make sense for our future as individuals, and the country as a whole. Just like many of you, we had a lot of unanswered questions and really didn’t know what to believe. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when alternatives to oil will become absolutely critical.

In this article, we will begin to uncover the truth about electric powered vehicles. What does it actually cost to own and operate an electric powered vehicle? Are there potential cost savings to owning one? Is it truly environmentally friendly? How easy are they to live with? Even if you currently have no interest in owning an electric vehicle right now, this is something you should become aware of.

To start with, we’ll briefly explain the four categories electric vehicles (EVs) typically fall into:

Hybrid Electric

A hybrid electric vehicle uses a battery-powered electric motor to supplement its traditional gas powered engine. The addition of the electric motor helps to reduce idling and enables the vehicle to operate with zero emissions at low speeds, typically below 40 miles per hour. At higher speeds, the gas powered engine drives the vehicle.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)

A plug-in hybrid vehicle is similar to a standard hybrid in that it combines an electric motor with a traditional gas powered engine. The difference is that it uses a larger battery which can be recharged by plugging the vehicle into an electrical outlet. As a result of this larger battery, the vehicle receives more power from electricity therefore increasing fuel economy.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)

These vehicles run solely on electricity and have no gas engines, therefore they produce zero tailpipe emissions. As a result of running exclusively on a battery, it is necessary to remain within the vehicle’s range until the next available charge.

Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (ER-EVs)

Extended-range electric vehicles have both an electric motor and a gas powered generator. The electric motor directly propels the vehicle for the first 25 to 50 miles. After that, the on-board gasoline “generator” provides electricity to the motor. (The gas engine does not actually provide power to the wheels directly, instead it charges the battery which powers the electric motor.) This eliminates the need to drive within a limited range as it can continue to run on gasoline.

Our first EV test vehicle was a Chevy Volt, therefore will make a few references about our experiences with it in this article.

Available Incentives to Help Purchase an EV

The cost to design and build EVs are higher for manufacturers since it is still new technology and they do not have the benefit of economies of scale. In order to help entice consumers to make an EV purchase, the Federal Government and many state governments offer incentives. At the time this article was published, the Federal Government incentive for purchasing a new EV ranged from a $2,500 to $7,500 tax credit, depending on the type of EV and your filing status. There are also talks of increasing the Federal tax credit maximum amount to $10,000 and/or providing the credit at the time of purchase versus having to wait until you file your taxes as currently is the case.

A vehicle that has a potential tax credit is often marketed as having a flat tax credit amount, of course advertised as the maximum in the range. In reality, it’s only worth that amount if your total Federal tax bill is as much or more for that fiscal year. In the case of the Volt which is eligible for up to a $7,500 tax credit, if you owe $6,000 in Federal income tax the year you purchase the car you’d receive a $6,000 benefit. The remaining difference can not be applied against the following year’s taxes. If you opt to lease an EV car which qualifies for the incentive, the monetary credit stays with the leasing company who is the actual owner of the vehicle. Don’t worry though, in most cases the tax credit has been factored into the cost of the lease so you are still gaining the benefit.

Many states also offer additional incentives from tax credits, such as Colorado’s credit of up to $6,000, to other forms of incentives such as the state of California offering the sought-after car-pool lane access to EV owners. Knowing the potential incentives available to you can dramatically influence your purchasing decision.

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