Electric cars will not replace fossil-fuel cars for at least 20 years..
Twelve years after hybrids first arrived in the United States, they account for only 2-3% of annual US car sales and about 1-2% of annual global vehicle production. Roughly 17,000 plug-in cars were sold in the United States in 2011. To put that number in perspective, 13 million vehicles were sold in the US in 2011. That means that plug-in cars represented only 0.1% of 2011 US sales. Most analysts expect that 8 to 10 years from now plug-ins will account for roughly 1-2% percent of global vehicle production, with highest sales in Japan, the U.S., and some European regions. That translates to about 1 million plug-in cars a year. Due to limitations in the technology, the prevalence of fossil fuel vehicles, and the resistance to change evidenced thus far, it is highly unlikely that electric vehicles will dominate the market in the next 20 years.
A hybrid vehicle can be as much as 20% more expensive than its gasoline engine counterpart. Electric or part-time electric models cost even more. The cheapest hybrid model costs a little less than $20,000, while the most expensive model costs more than $100,000. The DOE has a calculator that will compare different makes and models of cars to determine their “cost of ownership.” Comparing a 2012 Chevy Volt with a comparable Chevy Cruze shows about a $9,000 total savings over a 15 year period (about $600 a year).
The cost of operating electric and fossil-fuel cars varies by region with regard to the mode of electric production and gasoline costs. Assuming an electric car uses 35 kwh per 100 miles of travel, and assuming residential electricity costs about $0.11/kwh, driving an electric car costs about $0.0385 per mile traveled. By comparison, if you drive a fossil-fuel car that averages 29 mpg and gas costs $3.75/gallon, you will pay about $0.1293 per mile traveled.
The environmental impact of electric and fossil-fuel cars varies by region with regard to the mode of electric production and gasoline costs. Electric vehicles must get energy from somewhere, and produces the electricity required to charge their batteries creates emissions. An electric vehicle likely produces a similar amount of green house gas emissions compared to higher mileage gasoline vehicles. Electric vehicles may give a cost savings per mile traveled, but do not necessarily offer any reduction in environmental impact.
The fact of the matter is that electric cars aren’t very practical. In additional to high purchase prices, limited battery power and high replacement cost, and limited environmental benefits, the electric car faces a problem of scalability. As long as a limited numbers of drivers are using electric car technology, the current electrical grid is sufficient. However, if the number of drivers increases significantly and they all plug-in on a hot day, there will be major problems with both power generation and distribution.