Just because something is familiar does not necessarily make it convenient. Operating and maintaining a conventional vehicle requires making an extra stop at the gas station on a regular basis, dealing with an expensive, fluctuating fuel price, regular oil changes, frequent brake changes, and other unforeseen maintenance issues that come with so many moving parts. On the other hand, a fact about Electric Vehicles (EVs) is that EVs are fueled at home, so no stops at the gas station are required (with the exception of a PHEV, which provide the option for gas station visits on longer trips). Electricity is very cheap and extremely stable, so EV owners spend 1/3 to 1/4 on fuel and can budget more easily. There are few moving parts in an electric engine, so no oil changes are required. The brakes often don’t wear out as quickly because regenerative braking stores braking energy in the battery. Finally, many EV components are simpler so maintenance in general decreases.
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) must pass the same federal safety regulations as conventionally powered vehicles. They must meet the same standards and are subject to the same testing protocols. Furthermore, EV batteries and electrical systems must meet additional safety requirements.
EVs produce no tailpipe emissions, but the electricity used to fuel the car does have emissions associated with its production. A well-to-wheels emissions analysis takes into account the production, distribution, and utilization of the fuel source, and even after all of that is analyzed EVs are still cleaner in many areas throughout the US (Source). The sources used to generate electricity vary regionally, but electricity is different than other vehicle fuels because the sources used to produce it can change. Older power plants are being replaced with newer, cleaner technology over time, so the electricity used in EVs will become continually cleaner as time passes. Colorado has made strides toward using cleaner sources with the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act and a very successful renewable energy standard.
EV prices have fallen significantly since their introduction and when combined with state and federal tax credits EVs can be very affordable. For example, the Nissan Leaf can be leased for $200/month, or purchased for around $16,000 in Colorado after both federal and state tax credits.
Range is always something to consider when looking for an EV. In Colorado 85% of people live in the Front Range and have a daily commute of less than 16 miles. Considering that many EVs today can travel 70-100 miles on a single charge, this leaves plenty of miles for errands before charging up at night. At the same time, workplace and other public charging is gaining in popularity, allowing people to charge during the day. For people with particularly long commutes, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) will operate on electricity for a limited time before switching to gasoline for an extended range. These vehicles can travel over 600 miles between a full battery and gas tank.
EVs are actually much quicker at accelerating in many cases. An electric engine is able to utilize its torque and power at the touch of the pedal, whereas a conventional engine needs to build engine speed before it can develop and use its maximum power. People who test-drive EVs for the first time are usually surprised by how exhilarating they are to drive. There are even EV options for the race track: the PHEV Porsche 918 Spyder goes 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds (Source).
Most EV drivers would argue that it is more convenient to charge an EV, because an extra stop at the gas station is never necessary. Owners simply plug in their EVs when they get home, and it’s ready for them in the morning. There are no extra stops, so fueling becomes an unconscious behavior.