It would seem that the recent years on end of cheap gas in the U.S. had all but dashed hopes that Americans would embrace eco-friendly electric vehicles. Indeed, SUVs and pickup trucks have surged in sales amid the veritable fuel-pump free-for-all — hell, Ford just announced it’s going to kill off its sedan production altogether. But climate-change crusaders take heart: There is much evidence the current is shifting toward an electric future, and a lot of it is due to car buyers having fewer reasons not to choose an EV.
The first clue is that the U.S. just came off a record year for EV sales, with 2017 up a reported 25 percent over the previous year. A contributing factor to that may well be rising gas prices: Just as the extended run of cheap fuel in the past few years emboldened SUV buyers to party like it’s 1995, that tide has turned decisively. Just last week, the cost of a gallon of regular gas rose 3 cents to $2.82 a gallon — while not the record-breaking $4-a-gallon average of a decade ago, it is reported to be the highest in nearly four years, with as much as a 10-cent-per-gallon spike anticipated by Memorial Day.
So the cheap-gas rationale for not going electric isn’t what it once was. Likewise, “range anxiety” — the No. 1 deterrent for Americans who fear running out of charge in an EV and not being able to find a charging station — is far less of an excuse than it used to be. With long-range electric driving once the exclusive domain of pricey Teslas, the Chevrolet Bolt EV essentially democratized the whole thing with its Tesla-rivaling 238-mile range and sub-$30,000 price after federal tax incentives. That’s in addition to more affordable models like the Volkswagen e-Golf, Hyundai Ioniq and Nissan Leaf, which offer 125 to 150 miles on a single charge.