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Electric cars looking to make a mark

Date posted:  9/30/16 03:46:00 PM Electric cars may be an affordable option soon

Automobiles are constantly changing and improving as manufacturers implement new design ideas and better technologies to attract buyers.

Previously, must-have features included a radio, a CD player and maybe a sunroof. Today, drivers expect vehicles to have much more, and in some ways, the car is another extension of our everyday technology.

If you've purchased or leased a car recently, you likely found a model that seamlessly connects to your smartphone. With this connection, you can play music, make hands-free calls or have your messages read aloud to you so you don't have to look down at the screen.

Tech giants Apple and Google have introduced features for supported vehicles that help improve the integration between your car and smart device.

Lately, two types of cars have snagged their fair share of headlines and seemed poised to hit the road in a few years.

All-electric cars
Cars that run solely on electricity are not a new concept. Manufacturers have put out electric vehicles in the past, but for the most part, they have not succeeded.

However two manufacturers, Tesla and Chevrolet, may be about to change preconceived notions about electric cars.

Tesla's mission to revolutionize the road
Tesla Motors was originally founded in 2003, and in 2008, the company released the Roadster, the first all-electric sports car.

The company is currently led by Elon Musk, who helped co-found Paypal while also founding and leading SpaceX. The goal of the company is to produce mass market electric vehicles to create sustainable transportation for everyone. Musk described the process as a three-step plan, similar to how certain technology companies operate.

Essentially, the company's first car, the Roadster, was going to be the most expensive and demonstrate the capabilities of an all-electric car. Musk deemed this plan necessary in order to eventually meet the goal of mass producing affordable cars.

Tesla's plan is in full swing. You can currently choose from two cars: The Model S, which resembles a sleek sports car, or the Model X, which is a hybrid vehicle. The vehicles can be outfitted however you prefer, and unlike other cars, you buy directly from Tesla. This means no hidden fees or having to negotiate with dealers.

As for the mass produced vehicle, Tesla unveiled the Model 3 in March 2016, and garnered nearly 400,000 preorders, according to Electrek. The base model of this version will start at $30,000.
The cars operate on 100 percent electricity. Like your smartphone, you'll charge the car by plugging it into an outlet, which is typically in your garage. While on the road, you can stop at a public charging station or one of the company's super charging stations.

But Tesla is not the only manufacturer ready to introduce an affordable, all-electric car to consumers.

Chevrolet's strides
Chevrolet has previously produced an electric car, the Chevy Volt, but that is classified as a plug-in hybrid and only records an all-electric range of roughly 38 miles. The company recently unveiled the Bolt EV, a car that is expected to notch more than 200 miles on a single charge.

According to CleanTechnica, production on the vehicle is expected to begin in October 2016 and will likely be available before the year ends. Chevrolet is aggressively targeting the mass market, as the Bolt EV will start at $37,500, but after federal tax credits, that price can be reduced to $30,000. 

Similar to the Tesla, you'll need to have an in-home charger in order for the Bolt EV to reach maximum capacity. The company stated that for every one hour of charge the car gets, you'll be able to drive 25 miles. After nine hours, or roughly one night, the car will be fully charged.

The Bolt EV and every model that Tesla manufactures are fully equipped with technology to enhance the driving experience, such as rear view cameras, touch-screen dashboards and in the case of Tesla, autopilot.

Why electric?
Electric vehicles are still in their infancy, but manufacturers seem to be placing more resources into developing a sustainable vehicle. Choosing to drive an all-electric car not only means you'll personally reduce your carbon emissions, but you may also save money in the long term. The federal government currently offers various tax credits for buyers who purchase an electric vehicle, and the cost to drive electric vehicles versus gasoline-powered cars is much lower.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it costs half the amount to drive an electric car than it does to use a vehicle that relies on gas. Additionally, gas prices are notorious for increasing and decreasing substantially over time, and the inconsistency in cost can wreak havoc on your wallet. But electricity prices have remained comparatively stable.

The automobile industry is approaching an interesting point in time as two affordable all-electric vehicles are on the cusp of being mass produced. If you are curious about these options and how they can impact your monthly gas costs, do some research to see if they work for your needs.