• Miami Sunset by Jimmy Baikovicius

Zippy or Zappy? Electric Cars and Safety in Accidents

Written by LaGeris Underwood Bell.

Electric CarElectric Car

The future of transportation is already here in the form of electric vehicles (EV). Hybrid EVs, which use both gas and electricity, have been around for at least three years. But more 100-percent EVs are coming on the scene. Test drivers have commented favorably on their efficiency and style. 

According to an article in the Miami Herald, although they were available for sale in the 1990s, Americans have taken their time warming up to the idea of electric cars. With the steady rise of gas prices, electric cars are finally heating up—some 50,000 sold in 2012 and sales are expected to continue to grow.

An EV runs on an electric motor instead of a gasoline engine. The electric motor is powered by a controller and the controller is powered by rechargeable batteries. The EV’s battery packs can be recharged in several ways. One way is to plug the packs into a standard, three-prong household outlet using a special charging cord.

EV owners can upgrade their system by having a higher level charging system professionally installed at their house. Installation for this type of charging station can cost over $1,000.

Many states have established incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. In Florida, for example, there are already hundreds of charging stations across the state. Plan are under way to design some charging stations to use solar power and even provide shade from the sun. And in the Sunshine State electric cars are exempt from most insurance surcharges, plus they are granted access to carpool lanes.1

Still, the popularity of electric cars is not yet statewide.  In South Florida, there are just 16 registered charging stations between Miami and West Palm Beach according to the Car Charging Group—which means that some sun loving Floridians are still just lukewarm about the idea.

Kudos for Ford 

Ford's 2014 Focus Electric is the first EV in the automaker's history. Most reviews of the 100 percent EV are positive. U.S. News and World Reports ranks Focus Electric No. 8 in "Upscale Small Cars." The EV runs on an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery system. According to the EPA, the Focus Electric can get 110 miles per gallon-equivalent (mpg-e) in the city and 99 mpg-e on the highway. Mpg-e is how the EPA compares electric cars with cars powered by gas.

Focus Electric test drivers reportedly said the vehicle, which starts at $35,000, has a roomy interior with the same equipment as a traditional vehicle: heated front seats, satellite radio, automatic climate control, and push button start.

Unfortunately, there have been some issues. Last year, Ford announced that 12 complaints were filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning a "Stop Safely Now" message that unexpectedly displays on the 2012 and 2013 models. Focus Electric owners said they have to pull off the road because the vehicle's on-board electronics systems no longer responds. As yet, there have been no reports of injuries but the company and NHTSA are looking into the problem.

Motorists should be fully aware of these mechanical issues affecting an EV or any other type of automobile on the highway. Now, in the event the situation does result in a dangerous accident on a Florida road, Miami, FL car accident attorneys will be able to assist. 

Questions Surrounding Tesla's Model S

The California-based Telsa Motors' sleek Model S, which starts at $70,000, was ranked Number 1 in Super Luxury Cars by U.S. News and World Reports. The Model S was also awarded a 5-star safety rating by the NHTSA. Tesla said in an August 19, 2013, press release that the Model S set a new record for the "lowest likelihood of injury to occupants".

Three months after the press release was issued, the NHTSA announced that it was launching a safety investigation of the Model S after three cars caught fire last fall. Fortunately, none of the drivers were injured. The recent fires brought up concerns over future safety hazards for drivers and firefighters.

Other automakers have their own EV models, including BMW which recently introduced its new, four-door i3 EV. So, consumers who want to “go green” and pay the higher price tag will have several models from which to choose. The debate continues as to whether EVs are eco-friendly since they use batteries made by chemicals that must be plugged into a power source.

So far, owners appear to be very pleased with their electric vehicles. As yet, drivers have not been injured when starting up their electric cars or been involved in crashes. Whether EVs will become more affordable and win over mainstream consumers remains to be seen.

Writer LaGeris Underwood Bell finds electric vehicles intriguing. For Miami motorists interested in the EV, hopefully its anticipated appearance within the state will be sooner rather than later.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elbilforeningen/10036975655/

1http://www.plugincars.com/federal-and-local-incentives-plug-hybrids-and-electric-cars.html

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