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Time to buy that electric car?

Have we reached the tipping point where an electric car will be cheaper? Watch this video.

April 29, 2011

Flash is required!

Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune ran a discussion about electric cars. If you recall the last time gas was this expensive a couple of years back, electric cars were on the drawing board, but that was about it. Now they’re available, at least sort of. (You may still have to wait to get an electric Rolls Royce.)

Murray Jones (left), discusses ABB electric vehicle charging technology with Peter Welander, CFE Media, Control Engineering.The article was considering whether that technology is now economically viable and practical, and the answer is: sort of. As for the economic side, here’s a point it made:

“At $5 a gallon, consumers who drive 12,000 miles a year could save on average $2,257 at Commonwealth Edison's off-peak electric rates by switching to a pure electric vehicle, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the Environmental Law and Policy Center.”

That’s great, but when you factor in the price of the car, the article goes on to suggest that it would take about 10 years to break even at current price levels.

The practicality question is another matter. If you buy a Volt, with its ability to recharge itself if necessary, you’re probably OK. If you buy a Leaf, you have to know where you’re going to charge it. You can do that at home, but let’s say you want to go on a road trip that will take you farther than a single charge. Where do you juice up?

ECOtality BLINKThe video clip helps answer that question. Among the things displayed at ABB’s Automation & Power World last week was an electric car charging station and a Nissan Leaf. ABB is keen on deploying this infrastructure, and hopes you will be interested in buying an electric car. In the video, Murray Jones explains what the company is doing, and where the first “electric highways” are being built. If car prices come down a little, this kind of thing could be here sooner than you think.