Electric vehicle sales move along, but slowly
Piedmont EMC’s 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid is a “hybrid plus.” These cars are designed to deliver maximum efficiency by combining a rechargeable plug-in battery and electric motor with a gasoline engine.
The auto industry is on pace to sell more plug-in electric cars — about 100,000 — in the U.S. by the end of 2013 than were sold in 2012, according to Green Car Reports. In July, sales were running more than 7,000 per month.
Nissan was the industry leader with 11,703 plug-ins sold during the first seven months of 2102, which is more all-electric Leafs than Nissan sold in the U.S. during all of 2011 or 2012.
Close behind, said Green Car Reports, were sales of the plug-in hybrid (with back-up gasoline power) Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car, with 11,643 in the first seven months of the year, versus 10,666 at the same time last year.
Chevrolet in July announced a $5,000 price cut of the Volt to $34,995. The Nissan Leaf sticker price is $28,800.
Electric vehicles amount to less than 1 percent of all U.S. vehicle sales. The Kelley Blue Book lists the average price for battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles at $36,922 (before tax credits).
Not all electric cars are made the same. The 2013 Nissan Leaf boasts a driving range of roughly 75 miles. Once its lithium-ion batteries are drained, you need a 110-volt power outlet for recharging.
The 2013 Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in both offer a gasoline back-up for their pack of batteries. The Volt will run on a charge for 38 miles. The Prius has a reported 11-mile range. Once the batteries are exhausted, a gasoline-powered generator produces electricity to keep the car rolling. The 2013 Ford Focus Electric, which sold only 685 units last year, has a 76-mile range.
The Volt can recharge by plugging into a traditional 120-volt outlet. This differs from traditional gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles like the original Toyota Prius, for which batteries are recharged only by the gasoline engine and a regenerative braking system. (In hybrids, batteries essentially supplement the gasoline motor.)
If you plan to acquire a plug-in electric car, notify your electric cooperative.