Will 2019 be the year of the electric car?

Will Watts

Electric vehicles remain a curiosity for many motorists. While many industry experts predict all cars on the road will be electric models at some point in the future, gas-powered vehicles still outnumber electric cars by a wide margin. This time last year, the number of electric cars on the road rose from two to three million.

“There’s no doubt, electric cars are coming. Not overnight, but you’re going to see more and more electric cars” in the years ahead, Sean Gorman told the Marco Eagle in November 2018. Gorman’s Auto Service & Tire Center is a business on East Elkcam Circle that Sean’s father his father Tim founded more than a quarter of a century ago.

Sean Gorman works an electric vehicle charging device that Gorman's Auto Service on Marco Island has installed and opened to the public, at the shop on East Elkcam Circle.

Some drivers may be hesitant to purchase electric cars out of a fear of the unknown. That's understandable considering the cost of new vehicles, electric or gas-powered. According to analysts at Kelley Blue Book, the average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States was more than $36,000 in early 2018. That makes vehicles a significant investment and perhaps explains why consumers have thus far been hesitant to embrace electric cars en masse. But the benefits of electric cars are many and understanding just what those benefits are might compel more drivers to make the leap.

The issue of charging

“If you’re on the road, there are very limited options for charging your car,” Sean said.

On Marco Island, Gorman’s installed a charging station in November 2018 and, as Amanda Cox, director of sales and marketing at the JW Marriott, confirmed the hotel offers charging facilities in their parking lot.

Father and son, Tim and Sean Gorman, watch as a vehicle charges at the charging station they installed Gorman's Auto Service on Marco Island.

“They are for hotel guests or others using our facilities,” said Cox. “There is no ‘charge to charge,’ beyond paying for parking if required. For instance, if you were having dinner at Ario, and had your car charging during dinner, you would get your parking stub validated, and there would be no charge.”

You can also have a high-voltage charger installed in your home; like what a typical dryer is plugged into. Standard plugs work with most models, but charging will be slower.

Effects on local economies

Many countries, including the United States, import a substantial percentage of the petroleum they consume. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy notes that the United States imports 19 percent of the petroleum it consumes, three-quarters of which is used for transportation. All-electric vehicles can be powered solely by domestically produced electricity, which can benefit local economies in countries such as the United States and Canada.

Customers enter the new Tesla store at Waterside Shops in Naples, Fla., on Dec. 20, 2016.
Customers and staff at the new Tesla store at Waterside Shops in Naples, Fla., on Dec. 20, 2016.
Janie Breidenbach of Ave Maria, left, checks out a Tesla Model X 90D at the new Tesla store at Waterside Shops in Naples, FL, on December 20, 2016.

In December 2016, Tesla made an investment in Collier County, opening a dealership at Waterside Shops.

Inside the Tesla showroom, customers can build their dream cars at a design center, choosing everything from battery size and paint color to seating styles and dashboard gadgetry.

There are touch screens and hands-on exhibits for self-service, but owner-advisers and product specialists are also at the ready to answer questions, help with purchases and ride along on test drives.

Electric vehicles have yet to catch on a wide scale. However, the overwhelming benefits of such cars and trucks makes it extremely likely that they are the future of driving for those motorists who have thus far been hesitant to ditch their gas-powered automobiles.

Cost savings

There's no denying that purchase prices for electric cars and even hybrid vehicles are higher than those for more conventional, gas-powered vehicles. However, many countries offer sizable tax credits to buyers of hybrid and electric vehicles. In addition, fuel costs for hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles are low, which can help offset the high purchase price of such automobiles.

Environmental impact

The DOE notes that electric vehicles produce zero tailpipe emissions. The same goes for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles when they're operating in all-electric mode. That's a substantial benefit, as tailpipe emissions pose a significant threat to the environment as well as human health. Common tailpipe emissions include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, benzene, and carbon dioxide. Such pollutants can lead to further depletion of the ozone and some, such as benzene, are known carcinogens.