When dreams have to take a backseat

This photo provided by Hyundai shows the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq, which Edmunds highlights as one of the more enticing new EV choices. Despite the car's low sticker price, the interior feels more expensive than those of many cars in this class. But the Ioniq is currently only available in California. (Courtesy of the Hyundai Motor America via AP)

Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I am very concerned with the health of our planet. Over the past few years, and especially since the election last year, the environment has been a top priority for me and my family, and we have been constantly trying our hardest to make our household a greener one. We have tried to reduce our waste by recycling and composting anything and everything we can, we have cut down on the amount of animal products we consume, and we are in the process of getting our house to run on solar energy. However, one large change that we have yet to make, is the cars that we drive.

While I’ve always wanted an electric car, my personal favorite being the Nissan Leaf, I realize that being in college is enough for me to be paying for right now, without the thought of a new or used car to add to the mix. Which is why when offered a hand-me-down family car with limited payments left to go, I gladly accepted without a second glance. Of course, I always had the future goal of owning an electric vehicle in the back of my mind. However, with the recent research I have done and the information I have read, it seems that this dream may be best if left for even further in the future than I had originally intended.

The issue that most people have with electric vehicles nowadays is that they are expensive and impractical. Luckily this first issue (the price) is one that seems to be resolving itself rather quickly. While many people immediately think of extravagant Tesla’s, which typically cost upwards of 70 to 80 thousand dollars, when picturing electric cars, the truth is that many more affordable car brands are releasing new electric vehicles for much more reasonable markups every year. New models like the Nissan Leaf and Ford C-Max Energi have base prices around 29 thousand dollars, which may be on the higher end of some lower-level car companies, but are generally much more affordable than their luxury counterparts. This, coupled with the tax credits that many electric vehicle owners qualify for, make the cost of owning one of these vehicles much more affordable for many.

However, the issue of impracticality, however, still stands. Many people feel they are unsuited for an electric car due to the range, or lack thereof, of its battery. While the average electric vehicle can handle a distance typically of around 100+ miles, for those with long commutes this may not be suitable. These issues would greatly be improved by one area where this field is decidedly lacking: charging time. Unfortunately, the improvements that are currently being made to decrease the charging time of these vehicles may not be available for a few years, and when they are, they may not be possible on cars that are already out today.

Currently, charging stations for electric cars generally come in two power levels that can take anywhere from five and a half to 30 hours to charge a car depending on the strength. Clearly, these times take much longer than a quick stop at a gas station to fill up a regular car would. Luckily, there is another option. Researchers and manufacturers have worked hard to create a much more effective charging point that delivers a whopping 350 kilowatts of power to hopefully charge a car fully in 10 to 15 minutes. While these times may still be a bit slower than those found at a gas station, this would be a huge increase in efficiency and convenience for electric vehicle owners everywhere. Unfortunately, these charging points are not yet available in America and even if they were, they would not be compatible with the charging ports within most electric cars currently on the market in our country.

Thus, it seems we are still at a standstill. While the electric vehicle market has been evolving dramatically over the past few years, the sales of these cars don’t reflect this shift, due in major part to the impracticality of the vehicles in their current state. So, as much as it pains me to say, it seems that at this point in time the best way to save not only our planet, but also our wallets, is to wait.

While I do not typically encourage prioritizing money far above the health of our planet, it does seem that at the current time, investing thousands of dollars in a limited vehicle would be a waste considering an improvement in the industry is right around the corner. That being said, the idea of driving an electric car is still one of the biggest ways we can hope to reduce our carbon footprint, and once these changes to the technology are made, you better believe I will be the first one in line at those new charging stations.


Emma Hungaski is the associate opinion editor  for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.hungaski@uconn.edu.