Although our dealer was friendly and fair, it was not easy to purchase a LEAF, or leading environmentally-friendly affordable family car, in 2014.
The franchise had no models on site; their information racks, rife with literature on fossil-fueled models, contained no literature on our choice. Oddly, our designated salesman failed to return phone calls following an offer that was ultimately accepted.
Therefore, we were not entirely surprised that, in the intervening years, we have never seen a local TV ad for the ‘Made in America’ electric vehicle we purchased.
We now realize that there were sound business reasons for a marketer’s disinterest in promoting electric vehicle sales. Auto dealers reportedly derive three times as much profit on vehicle service as on purchases. If so, our experience may illustrate their dilemma since our vehicle has never been taken back for maintenance or component replacements. Lacking transmissions, oil and air filters, starting motors, carburetors, gasoline tanks, radiators, tail pipes, catalytic converters and more, electric vehicles require minimal attention. And thanks to energy-conserving regenerative braking, even those vital vehicle components generate less noise and experience less wear.
In Missouri, auto sales forces are not the only ones lacking enthusiasm for the now widely projected advent of electric locomotion. Reactionary political opposition has long proposed electric vehicle sales restrictions. Substantive Missouri “gas taxes” have also been levied in the guise of “annual decal fees for electric vehicles” (currently $81 per year) presumably to compensate for losses in gas tax revenue for highway development and maintenance.
So, here’s a little arithmetic problem for you. If you have driven 17,471 miles in an electric vehicle over the past six years and 10 months, and if that electric vehicle has averaged 114 miles per fossil fuel gallon equivalent, and if you paid the State of Missouri $554.50 in decal fees (gas taxes), how much tax did you pay per gallon of fossil fuel not used by your electric vehicle?
Moreover, if you are a conservationist, you might also want to estimate how much financial credit the state should be awarding you for lessening your contribution to the discharge of planet-warming gases?
Many will cite drawbacks to owning electric vehicles, limited range and over-the-road recharging opportunities first among them. However, for those of us with short commutes and access to 120-volt electrical power, the era of the battery-powered automobile is here — and one might add electric scooters, bicycles and mopeds to that mix.
John and Joni O’Connor are Columbia residents.