Looking for a fuel-efficient commuter car? For the many exotic car fans driving efficient cars during the week, plug-in cars may seem like a great option. That may not be the case, according to a recent article by Yahoo Autos and CNN Money.
Due to the expensive battery packs in plug-in vehicles, the majority of these cars are unlikely to represent a cost savings for the consumer. Gasoline hybrids, on the other hand, could save you a lot of money, and more efficient traditional gas engines could also be a savings.
That’s because larger battery packs are required for plug-in cars. These larger batteries are more expensive, and unless there are significant government subsidies, the cost is likely to be passed on to consumers.
This report, from government advisory group National Research Council, comes at an inopportune time for many carmakers. Chevrolet is releasing its plug-in Volt this year, and the beleaguered carmaker takes issue with some of the figures in the report.
Among them is the statement that building the Volt will cost $18,000 more than a standard gasoline vehicle and that $14,000 of that is solely for the battery pack.
“Our starting point, which already costs much less than they estimate, is just the first step,” said GM spokesman Rob Peterson, calling the battery cost estimate “bloated.”
Plug-in hybrids also may not make a significant impact on reduction of greenhouse gasses, since they frequently get their power from polluting coal-fired power plants.
The alternative? Traditional hybrids and more efficient gasoline engines. These technologies require little change on the part of the consumer, so they will be easier to adapt.
New regulations on auto emissions, combined with consumers’ concern for the environment, are resulting in more fuel-efficient cars. Vehicles like the Smart ForTwo get great gas mileage using traditional gasoline engine technology.
“The Smart Car has a lot of advantages, not the least of which is its fuel economy,” says Ron Sturgeon, owner of a Dallas exotic car rental company where consumers can rent a Smart Car. “It’s also easy to park, fun to drive, and perfect for city driving.”
Recently some exotic car fans have been shying away from the hassle that comes with owning an exotic car. In addition to astronomical car payments, there’s the challenge of finding a qualified mechanic, a secure car storage facility, and affordable insurance.
Instead, many enthusiasts prefer to rent exotic vehicles like the Smart ForTwo. Exotic car rental is also a great way to try out a new type of vehicle.
“We get a lot of people who want to see if they like a Smart Car before they decide to buy one,” says Sturgeon. “People are more careful with their money these days, and they want to make sure they buy a car they love and can afford.”
The National Research Council report suggests that plug-in vehicles may not be cost effective for consumers until 2040.
Kate Miller-Wilson is a professional freelance writer, specializing in web content and technical writing.