With the gas prices on a proverbial yo-yo string, it’s not a mystery why people are looking for gas efficient alternatives.  It seems like there isn’t ever a very long break from the higher gas prices; they only stay on the low end for a couple of weeks, at the most.  However, it’s not a dying business as people are always going to need gas to fuel their vehicles.  Sure, more people are getting into hybrid vehicles that can travel longer ranges than traditional gas only engines, but those models are typically more expensive to purchase and maintain, and they’re not as plentiful.  So what’s the alternative?

There, actually, is an alternative, the electric vehicle.  An electric vehicle is a type of vehicle that is powered by electric energy that is stored through charging in one or more batteries.  They’re not readily available; the models are somewhat few and far between.  Many manufacturers have not started offering a large volume of electric fuel cell vehicles, but the manufacturers that are offering the technology in their lineup have seen moderate success.  They haven’t surpassed sales for hybrid vehicles or traditional gas vehicles, but they’re doing well for newer technology.

The idea of an electric vehicle isn’t a new idea.  The technology has been around for quite a while, and electric engines have become to the engine of choice in many other forms of transportation.  Many trains are using electric powered engines for, at least, a portion of their route, swapping out for the more traditional diesel engine at a later point.  Some companies have chosen to add electric vehicles to their fleets in order to minimize both gas expense and their contribution to potentially harmful emissions.  However, when it comes to cars, is an EV practical?

Of course, the EV is something to consider when you want to control the amount of harmful gases that your car is pumping into the atmosphere.  However, with the increase in production of hybrid vehicles, and even the standard to which most manufacturers are held, the carbon footprint of many cars has been greatly reduced.  The bigger and better known automakers have even made an effort to take their cars to a different level in terms of eco-friendliness, but they’re not stopping there.  A lot of the major manufacturers have built an eco-conscious mission statement into their SRO, by cutting waste at their plants, their offices, and with their staff.  Many of the majors are making a serious play for a smaller carbon footprint, but the eco warriors are asking if it is enough.

The answer is, probably not.  Electric vehicles would be the preference, they cost very little to run as there is no gas expense and they don’t produce noxious gases that are destroying the ozone layer.  The simply plug into, in some cases, a regular outlet and after charging they’re good to go.  They’re the obvious choice if you’re looking for an earth friendly option, or are they?

The question at hand is whether or not the purchase of an EV is a practical decision.  The EV technology is newer than the traditional gasoline powered vehicles, and it hasn’t advanced to its full potential or even similar potential to that of regular vehicles.  Even at a full charge, the vehicle has a limited amount of mileage, which means that it has to be recharged in order to travel great distances.  Most of the popular EV’s can only travel around one hundred miles on a single charge, thus making planning an important part of your day, and road trips nearly impossible.

Some people would argue that road trips are entirely possible in an EV, but the reality of that is debatable.  With a small amount of travel possible on a single charge, there isn’t much of an option for extensive driving.  Even for local commutes, drivers have to carefully plan out their trips and account for potential accidents, traffic, and other obstacles that may leave them stranded.  Let’s face it; while more charging stations are being added on a regular basis, they still aren’t plentiful, and charging the battery takes a while to reach the maximum capacity.  Both of these facets of the EV are completely inconvenient, even if you’re simply running errands, because there is no plan that can encompass what might happen.

All in all, the EV is a great idea, in theory, but it’s not a very practical choice if your commute to work isn’t right around the corner.  Perhaps one day, as the technology improves and the charging stations become more plentiful, the EV will take off and become a better choice for drivers everywhere.  However, for now, hybrid vehicles and the newer HEVs are the best decision for the eco-conscious drivers.