While China, Germany, and California are flirting with the idea of their vehicles going totally electric and banning the sales of any new gasoline-powered vehicles equipped with traditional internal combustion engines, most American consumers have been slow to warm up to hydrogen-powered and plug-in electric cars. Part of the problem is a lack of infrastructure; another part of the problem is the cost; and a third hang-up is tied up with politics and the perception that electric vehicles (EVs) simply aren’t as efficient or equipped with the same kind of horsepower as conventional vehicles.
While EVs are still in their relative infancy, in terms of being produced on a large scale, there are signs the electric car is destined to be considered the gold standard within the next decade. Let’s take a look at a few market trends and examine where they are currently headed.
Smart Car Trends
One of the hottest trends in the car world, now and in the future, is the smart home-car-energy system. That is, companies like Tesla and Mercedes-Benz want to tap into the clean energy market by going beyond automotive manufacturing toward the smart home industry. Products include solar roof panels, the power wall, and electric vehicles that all work in conjunction with one another.
Figure in Tesla’s Model X, one of the newest comparatively affordable electric vehicles on the market set to compete with the Chevrolet Volt and other high-mileage electric models, and you have a sports utility vehicle that rivals many others on the road. Of course, EVs easily beat out other vehicles, in terms of fuel efficiency and cost — comparatively nil — but what about maintenance?
While a typical vehicle requires regular check-ups and periodic parts replacement like brake pad and rotor maintenance — generally every 50,000 miles — electric vehicles are installed with regenerative braking systems, a process that works much differently. In fact, intervals between maintenance appointments may even last twice as long as those of conventional vehicles.
This means considerable burdens like long maintenance checklists and hefty fuel and repair expenses traditionally considered for long road trips — especially for larger vehicles like vans and RVs — will no longer be as much of an issue. One could argue, in fact, that if mechanics don’t figure out how to transfer their skills to the new hybrid, electric, and fuel cell markets, they may be out of a job in ten years.
Tax Deductions & Auto Insurance
The potential rise of the smart car equipped with accident prevention sensors and self-driving technology brings up many questions about insurance claims, tax write-offs, and ethical dilemmas.
For example, mileage tracking for self-employment or business-related tax deductions will become a thing of the past, since there won’t be any need to factor gas expenses into your budget, anymore. However, it remains to be seen if mileage will be deductible for reasons related more to wear-and-tear and the time/cost of recharging. Of course, there is a tax deductible credit for plug-in electric vehicles — though how that credit is applied is a bit complicated, as are most tax filing regulations.
And how will auto insurance companies decide who is culpable in the event of an accident? Will the manufacturer of the smart car in question — in the event of an accident — bear any culpability?
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The answers to some of these questions are yet to be discovered, but one thing is certain: the future of vehicles is clean, and the possibilities are growing by the minute. Will you choose to become a part of this exciting new frontier of clean energy technology?
The road is open. What will you be driving in 2020?
Image Source: Peter Van den Bossche
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