Consumer Reports: Pros and cons of owning electric vehicles

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Electric cars are still far outnumbered by their gasoline-powered cousins, but should you consider one for your next ride?

They are becoming more common, and more affordable so Consumer Reports is taking a closer look at the pros and the cons of owning one.

Helen Harrison never thought she'd want an electric vehicle.

"Electric cars were for wacky enthusiasts who are looking for the latest, greatest new technology to adopt, or super wealthy people who don't care if they get an $80,000 toy," she said.

But now she's seriously considering buying one. She is not alone.

A new survey by Consumer Reports says 36 percent of prospective car buyers would consider a plug-in electric vehicle for their next new car.

"A lot has to do with pricing. The price points are much lower with some of them starting as low as $29,000 before the federal tax credits that are available," said Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports' auto expert.

Two electric vehicles recommended by Consumer Reports for safety, affordability and cruising range are the Kia Niro and the Chevrolet Bolt.

But what about distance? How far can electric cars go between charges?

"Many of these newer models have batteries that allow them to travel 200 miles or more on a single charge," said Linkov.

Those models include the new Tesla Model 3 or the Nissan Leaf.

But keep in mind, battery range in electric vehicles decreases when energy is used to run the heater. And consumers will have to recharge cars overnight in order to maximize mileage. Still, Harrison is unfazed.

"There's something to worry about in every car that you are going buy. I'm very clear we should get an electric car," she said.

Consumer Reports said overall, consumers will save on maintenance and fuel over a comparable gas-powered car. And about those tax credits - most electric vehicles also qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit, in addition to some local and state credits.
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