Electric Cars: Limits and Benefits

FRESNO, Calif.

Douglas Stansfield was so anxious to own an electric car, he converted this 2003 Hyundai Tiburon. Stansfield can go 20 miles on a charge, so he plans his trips carefully.

"Overall, I use it for my local travel back and forth to the doctor's office, to the dentist's office, to the kids' school - things and all that," Douglas Stansfield said.

Electric cars' limited driving range is a key consideration, says consumer reports. The Chevy Volt can go 40 miles on an electric charge. But it does have a small gas engine that can go another 300 miles on a tank of gas. The Nissan Leaf, powered solely by an electric battery, has a 100 mile range before it has to be plugged in.

"But driving isn't the only thing that's going to drain your battery. Headlights, wipers, the heat, the air conditioning, it all uses electricity, even just playing the radio. So how far you can actually go on a charge, it's going to vary," Jake Fisher said.

Recharge time is another important consideration. On a regular household 110 volt outlet - the Chevy Volt takes about 10 hours to recharge. With the Nissan Leaf's larger battery, you need about 16 hours.

Then, of course, there's the cost of the vehicle itself. The Chevy Volt retails for $41,000. The Nissan Leaf, around $33,600. But federal tax incentives will cut that cost dramatically for many early adopters.

There's a $7,500 federal tax credit available for both.

"Electric cars hold a lot of promise. Clearly two big pluses are the ability to reduce gasoline consumption and run cleaner cars. But there's a lot to consider before you know they're right for you," Fisher said.

There will also be regional incentives for electric cars. For example, California will offer an additional $5,000 tax credit for zero-emission vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf.

For More Information: http://www.consumerreports.org/

Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.