Last updated 2000.03.19
The Questions, and What Your Answers Mean
It is easier for most people to integrate an electric vehicle into their life if they have another vehicle available for longer trips beyond the range capability of today's EVs. Using the EV for short trips saves wear and tear on internal combustion engined vehicles, which typically pollute more on short trips before the engine warms up to normal operating temperature.
Today's typical electric vehicles are well-suited to the typical urban mission: commuting relatively short distances (less than 50 km one-way), and running errands (e.g. shopping, deliveries, chauffeuring children, visiting friends, etc.) If you have a vehicle which is already used primarily for these sorts of trips (often an older, small car or small pickup truck operated with economy in mind), then an EV may be a natural replacement for that vehicle.
A typical conversion using today's off-the-shelf technology and lead-acid batteries can usually obtain a range of 80 km or a bit more on a charge. OEM vehicles and top-of-the-line conversions claim ranges of over 100 km per charge, and EVs using NiMH batteries have demonstrated ranges in excess of 300 km per charge. Range is the major disadvantage to today's electrics; the shorter the trips you have to make, the more likely an EV is to be able to meet your requirements.
Many commuter vehicles have a mission that varies little. It is driven to work or a transit station, parked there for the day, then driven home again, most weekdays, most of the year. This driving profile provides the opportunity for an electric vehicle to be plugged in and recharging during the day while it is parked. Recharging during the day can effectively double the useful range of an electric vehicle by having it fully charged at the end of the work day as well as at the beginning of the work day.
Are electrical outlets already available where you park, either at work, at theatres, restaurants or other places where you park for an hour or more? Is electricity installed nearby that would make it feasible to provide an electrical outlet where you park? If so, this makes it easier to recharge your EV more frequently extending its effective range, and it is kinder to your batteries.
Electrics are not as common as gasoline vehicles today, so do not benefit from the same economies of scale when they are being built. As a result, a new EV is typically more expensive than a basic, gasoline-powered commuter vehicle. Therefore, you might have to pay a premium to purchase or lease a new EV. On the other hand, the operating costs of an EV are usually lower due to reduced maintenance (no oil changes, no tune-ups, no exhaust system, no radiator, etc.) The point of this question is to determine your motivation to move away from the polluting gasoline technology to zero-emissions electric propulsion.
Oil is cheap today, but this is beginning to change. By comparison, electricity prices are reasonably stable. And, if you had to, or wanted to, you can make your own electricity using wind generators, solar panels, etc. The point of this question is to determine your motivation to get off the oil cartel's merry-go-round and establish your independence from them.
While EVs are more economical to operate, they typically come with an upfront cost that intimidates some people. If you can view that cost as an investment that will repay you in the future, an EV probably makes more sense to you than if your financial planning does not extend beyond paying this month's bills.
Many electrics today are conversions of existing gasoline or diesel powered vehicles. Either because the original vehicle is out of its warranty period, or because the conversion would void the warranty, many conversions do not come with a signficant warranty. (OEM electrics are an exception to this.) If you are uncomfortable driving a vehicle without a warranty, this limits your EV options, especially in Canada, today. It does not quite eliminate them, just narrows the market considerably.
EVs normally don't require much maintenance, so if you can do that little bit that is needed yourself, you will make an EV that much more affordable.
The more Yes answers you had, the more likely you are to be a good candidate for using an electric car or truck.
If you answered Yes to all 10 questions, we have to wonder why you are not driving an EV already. You sound like the ideal candidate for a pollution-free electric car.
If you answered Yes to 7, 8 or 9 questions, an EV could be a good fit for you. You might have to make some minor adjustments, but this should not be difficult for you.
If you answered Yes to 4, 5 or 6 questions, an EV is a questionable addition for your household. Unless you are really dedicated to improving the environment or committed to getting off oil, an EV may be a disappointment for you.
If you answered Yes to 1, 2 or 3 questions, an EV is most likely not appropriate for you. Depending on your circumstances, one of the new "electric-assist" cars like the Honda Insight or Toyota Prius might be of interest, especially if limited range is a problem for you and you are interested in fuel economy.
If you answered No to all 10 questions, well, we suspect an electric car really is not for you.
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