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High gas prices are supercharging the market for electric cars

Advocates say EVs are already cheaper in the long run -- and using electricity instead of gas means you're sending less money to dictators like Putin.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — With the average price nationally now at $4.25 for a gallon of gas, a lot of people are rethinking their internal combustion engines.

Sales of electric vehicles were up 85% last year, according to Edmonds.com, and the Electric Drive Transportation Association is predicting demand will continue to skyrocket. EDTA President Genevieve Cullen says just like with gas-powered cars, there have been some supply issues. But she expects manufacturers will quickly rally to meet consumers' demand for more electric cars.

Dave Goldstein, president emeritus of the Electric Vehicle Association of D.C., says the market for battery-powered cars has finally reached a turning point. He's been dreaming about this for 40 years. Scooting along past gas stations in his 2018 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, he says, "I definitely feel sorry for people who have to pay four to five dollars a gallon."

He says his Volt gets 50 miles on an overnight charge, and then the gas engine kicks in, giving him about another 300 miles in range. 

Last month --- before gas prices skyrocketed -- Edmunds predicted EVs would make up just 4% of U-S car sales this year, with gas-powered vehicles still dominating new car purchases.

But advocates say the war in Ukraine and the U.S. ban on Russian oil imports is likely to supercharge the market for battery-powered cars.

"It's cheaper, it's funner, it performs better, you don't have to go to the gas station, you leave a smaller carbon footprint, you don't pollute your community -- and you don't give money to dictators," said Cullen, about switching to an electric car.

The association says there are now 60 models of electric vehicles to choose from, and next year that number is expected to double.

Some are selling for as little as $22,000 dollars.

Edmunds's top-rated electric cars for 2022-2023 are the Tesla Model 3, the Kia Niro EV, and the Volkswagen ID-4, which range in price from $39,990 to $58,990.

But Goldstein says you can get a used Chevy Volt for $25,000.

He says switching absolutely makes financial sense for many people. Electricity is so much cheaper than gas, he said the savings will quickly cover the extra cost of an electric car. "About five years is the payoff," he said.

In a few years, supporters say our kids will consider gas-powered cars as old-fashioned as the VCR, a fax machine -- or a Model T.

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