Hurricanes Harvey and Irma brought more than just damage – they have also been blamed for the increase in gas prices … not to mention gas shortages.
With this in mind, many Americans witnessing hikes in gas prices in Texas and Florida are now begging the question: “Is time to consider all-electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles?”
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), all-electric vehicles (AEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are the two basic types of electric vehicles offered in the United States.
As explained by the DOE, all-electric vehicles (AEVs) are powered by one or more electric motors. They receive electricity by plugging into the grid and storing it in batteries. They consume no petroleum-based fuel and produce no tailpipe emissions.
PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), on the other hand, use batteries to power an electric motor, plug into the electric grid to charge, and use a petroleum-based or alternative fuel to power the internal combustion engine.
Regardless, Ian Adams of the R Street Institute stressed that there are always going to be oil shocks, and there are always going to be fluctuations in the price of fuel.
"That probably should not be the impetus for adopting electric vehicles," Adams argued. "I think it's just going to come down to the fact that, in the long term, as [the] infrastructure changes and commuting habits change, electric vehicles—as batteries become larger and more efficient – are just going to be kind of a better dollar-and-cents option."
There are federal and – depending on your location – state and local tax credits for alternative energy vehicles, but that has not put a dent in the sale of trucks and SUVs.
Even in California – where lawmakers were considering an increase in state financial assistance for alternative energy vehicles – only 315,000 registered automobiles in California are electric or plug-in hybrids. This accounts for only out of 26 million cars and light trucks registered in California.
"But you can see the arc of the technology," Adams pointed out. "They will – in the next 50 or 60 years – be the better option and the more sustainable option for drivers."
Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute also sees electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids becoming cheaper and more common – albeit a long way down the road.
"I think the three most important factors discouraging the average consumer would be range anxiety, cost and just the sheer convenience," asserted Lewis. "These fast charging stations may take 15 minutes or more to recharge the battery, whereas you can fill up your (gas) tank in a minute – and time is our most precious and limited commodity."
Information from the Department of Energy (DOE)confirms what Lewis says about fast charging stations.
"When the battery is depleted, it can take from 30 minutes (with fast charging) up to nearly a full day (with Level 1 charging) to recharge it – depending on the type of charger and battery," the DOE informed.
If this range is not sufficient, then the DOE argues that plug-in electric vehicles (PHEV) may be a better choice:
"PHEVs run on electricity for shorter ranges (6 to 40 miles), then switch over to an internal combustion engine running on gasoline when the battery is depleted,” the DOE explained. “The flexibility of PHEVs allows drivers to use electricity as often as possible, while also being able to fuel up with gasoline if needed."