In this video, a BBC News correspondent tests a new electric vehicle from Mitsubishi, and visits one of the plug-in charging stations in a growing network across Britain. According to the video, the i-MiEV, which is only available in the U.K., has a range of only about 90 miles and sells for around £24,000 ($39,000).
While the i-MiEV may be “unsuitable for long distance journeys,” the increasing number of charging stations along Britain's highway network allows for greater possibilities in electric vehicle travel. As seen in the video, electric vehicle drivers simply swipe a card and then plug in their vehicle as if they were pumping gas. But there is one not-so-subtle difference –- topping off the vehicle's battery with the 32 Amp chargers takes 20 minutes and a full charge will take at least an hour.
Despite these wait times and the high initial cost, there may be an economic incentive for purchasing an electric vehicle. According to Dale Vince, the founder of the charging station provider Ecotricity, the per mile cost of driving an electric vehicle is a tenth of that of diesel-powered alternatives. Additionally, electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and don't have costly regular maintenance for things like oil changes.
The race to make electric vehicles ready for primetime is on in the United States as well. General Motors and Nissan are currently competing with their Volt and Leaf models. Huffington Post blogger Michael Carmichael explains that despite the economic recession, “billions of people still care deeply about the environment” and sales of hybrid and electric vehicles continue to grow. Even so, electric cars face several hurdles before they are a truly viable alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.
A comparison of several electric vehicles for purchase in the U.S. is available here.