Rome, NY Sucks

But At Least We're Not Utica

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Replacing My Car, One Piece at a Time

I admit, I'm not much of a car guy. Since I don't know all the parts of the vehicle I drive, it irks me when I discover some other element of the system that I was unaware of that costs more than what I thought it was in the first place. Since most of my woes have dealt with the complicated fuel and exhaust systems of late, I pose this question. Would an electric car be even cheaper than anyone thinks?

Now, I don't mean one of those half-assed Toyota hybrids that give you the weight and complexity of 2 engines in the size of a subcompact. I mean a true (as yet unsold) full-on electric vehicle, sort of like GM's Volt concept car or their extinct EV-1. An electric car would lack gas tanks, gas lines, emissions controls, transmissions (electric motors are generally 1-2 gear) monitoring of those systems, engine oil, antifreeze/coolant and some other things I can't even think of. The only thing you'd need are brakes, and those could even be made mechanical rather than fluid based.

People who do electric car conversions spend in the range of $10,000 to make a car (or the shell of a car after all the regular parts are removed) electric. The RAV4 EV (the only domestic car to sell, rather than lease all electric vehicles) sold for about $45,000. Estimates for an electric car now run from $20,000 to $60,000. As for savings.

Over a 90,000 mile lifespan:
30 oil changes - $600
3 transmission changes - $300
3 radiator flushes - $300
4 muffler pipes (not uncommon here ) - $500
2 new fuel punps - $900

Ultimately, you wouldn't want to build an electric car to save money, just like putting in solar panels will almost certainly cost more than you'll save. There are a number of advantages to consider, however. As weird and strange as the idea of an electric car might be, given an equal choice, I'd plug my next car into a jack in the garage.


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