Electric Cars: Cost Effective If Gas Cost $8 a Gallon

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If you’ve been wondering whether the money you’d save on gas can justify the higher costs of electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, here’s your answer.

A WSJ story about the “Bumpy Road” facing electric vehicles offers this key estimate:

Absent the government incentives—which could be ended at any time—Boston Consulting Group’s Xavier Mosquet estimates that gasoline prices must rise to $8 to $9 a gallon before electric cars will be cost-effective for buyers.

Since most electric vehicles seem to be limited to 100 miles before needing a recharge, I also worry about what might be called the “road trip factor.” How can you even think about a road trip with one of these cars? Even if there were plenty of recharging stations out there, it’d be difficult to make good time on a longer journey if you had to regularly pull over and spend several hours recharging your car. So you’d probably have to own another vehicle just for longer journeys, or perhaps you’d have to rent another car from time to time—and who wants to spend money on either of those after purchasing an expensive new high-tech car?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m rooting big-time for electric vehicles, and I hope that one day no one is filling their cars with gasoline. It just seems like, as things now stand, they’re only practical in very specific situations. And they’re cost-effective in even fewer situations.