When Are Electric Cars a Viable Alternative?Electric cars are not a recent invention; they existed as early as 1899, but were never able to attack the market share of petroleum-fueled cars. Now there’s a new trend to revive and mass-produce the electric car for the population at large. So far, it seems that hybrid cars have been the popular compromise for the general public; it turns out that building electric cars that can fulfill the demands of modern citizens requires extensive research. For this reason, true electric cars that can drive over 100 km/h are luxury sedans and sports cars. The most notable of the former category is the Tesla Model S. In the class of sports coupes, we have the Tesla Roadster and the upcoming Mercedes SLS AMG E-Cell.

First shown last month in a bright blue paint scheme, the SLS comes with four electric motors: one engine to each wheel delivers a combined gargantuan 750 horsepower. That’s quite surprisingly 200 more than the good-old gasoline-fueled counterpart. With a top speed of 250 km/h and a range of 155 miles, it’s an impressive feat by the carmaker from Stuttgart. Too bad that it will cost a whopping $500,000. This price indicates the very problem with electric cars: Without an astronomical price tag, the industry can’t deliver acceptable performance… yet. It might take a couple of years more to produce a fully electric city car with a practical range, and at a price that many people will be able to afford.

When Are Electric Cars a Viable Alternative?The next difficulty at the moment is the scarcity of charging stations. Many countries are investing in this technology, though. Here in Sweden, for instance, Göteborg Energi has begun a program to create more charging stations in the city of Gothenburg. It hopes that between ten and twenty thousand electric cars will roll on the city’s streets before 2022. So far, 90 charging stations have been built, with many more to come. Halmstad has always been busy and setting up charging stations in public parking lots (as seen in the photos included in this post).

In an initiative to increase interest in electric cars, Göteborg Energi started the “Ladda nu” program. On its website, anyone living in and around Gothenburg can apply for the opportunity of driving a Volvo C30 Electric during one month. It hopes to gain more feedback from the experience, and through the feedback from these test drivers, learn about the requirements for a future charging station infrastructure. The momentum is there already, but give it a couple more years for the technology to ripen completely.