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Harvard Study Says Gas is Still Too Cheap for Electric Cars to Catch On

By Jacob Brown | July 29, 2011
What would it take to get you into an electric car? Gas prices hitting $4.50 a gallon or more? Researchers at Harvard University say they have found what it will take to make the battery-powered car a mainstay on U.S. roads. A new study titled "Will Electric Cars Transform the U.S. Vehicle Market?" by Henry Lee and Grant Lovellette at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, outlinines not just the long-term plan to shift more car sales to electric but also the viability of car shoppers paying more for the electric cars. Noted in the study, the researchers found that a plug-in hybrid costs $5377 more than a similar but conventionally powered car, while a battery electric vehicle costs $4819 more. To bridge the price gap, the report says that prices of battery-powered cars have to come down “significantly.” Even then, the report notes that some buyers will likely stick with used cars versus newer electric technology. Paragraphimage In some instances, the study finds that compared with the value customers place on the extended range a gasoline car offers, the price of fuel may have to rise to $4.50 a gallon on the low side and possibly as high as $6 to $8 per gallon in some scenarios for electric cars to start finding widespread popularity. It all comes down to convenience. Whereas a conventional car can travel for 300, 400 or sometimes 500 miles before it needs to pull into a gas station for a fill up, battery powered cars like the 2011 Nissan Leaf can only go 80 or 100 miles before they need a recharge, a process that can take hours. Range has been the problem with electric cars for a hundred years. Electric cars ruled the road around the turn of the 20th century. But the same issue – range between recharges – forced electric cars off the road as the better range of gasoline powered cars found more favor with customers. But as government regulations for higher fuel economy standards take center stage and demand for oil skyrockets, it looks like electric cars have the opportunity to take a foothold in the market. Just maybe not quite yet. Source: Harvard University
  • 2011 Nissan Leaf Front3
  • 2012 Ford Focus Electric Left Side1
 
3 comments
Raymond from the Philippines
Raymond from the Philippines

I want to comment on the Harvard study. It is too shallow because the real situation is the battery is still underdeveloped as far as technology is concerned. The oil industry is actually a world monopoly of energy. CNG is still the best alternative and it is Shell Philippines Exploration SPEX who is blocking the use of CNG here in Manila as the best alternative for energy since it is widely abundant in our country aside from being clean and green. Besides, we still have to discover other earth elements which can outperform Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries in both output and price.

Edmonton Toyota
Edmonton Toyota

While price and operational facilities are the top issues, it's about time that people should think and decide about buying electric vehicles. More buyers imply the possibility of lowered prices for EVs. To solve the issue of range, there's a need to come up with batteries that has strength and longer price. Nevertheless, not only recharging stations should be constructed on strategic locations but also battery changing stores where one need not plug for recharge but it would be a battery changing process.

Mike
Mike

100% torque available at 0rpm - that alone is worth driving an electric car at least once. I don't see why people think we have to have either/or - to me a car is like a stove in the sense that electrics and gas both have their advantages (and certainly people probably have very specific opinions on which they prefer), but both are and should be available. Also, not many households need more than one stove, but many have more than one car - ideally I'd have a little EV for driving back and forth to work, then an awesome gas-guzzling supercar for fun. Thing is though, most people who have driven an EV as a daily driver probably LOVE their cars, and this time you don't have GM making a limited, lease-only run of the coolest little EV-1 that people really wanted and then yanking them back to have them all destroyed.

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