• AAA study says shoppers don't understand electric cars
  • Drivers' biggest worry is "mileage limitations"
  • Cost of ownership also cited as reason to avoid EVs

Part of the reason electric vehicles haven't become popular is that shoppers aren't informed about EVs' capabilities or advantages. That's the latest from the American Automobile Association (AAA), which recently conducted a survey on the topic.

According to the AAA survey, about eight out of 10 adults say they're unsure of EVs or unlikely to buy one. The top concern was "mileage limitations," a fear AAA notes is largely unfounded. The reason is that the average driver commutes around 16 miles one way, while most EVs have a driving range of 60 to 100 miles.

AAA also says mileage limitations shouldn't concern drivers for two other reasons. One is there are now nearly 6,000 EV charging stations across the country. Also, AAA says it's now providing EV roadside assistance that can add 10 miles of range in about 15 minutes.

Another major concern for drivers is the cost of buying and maintaining an electric vehicle; AAA says that concern is largely unnecessary for various reasons, as well.

One is, of course, the lack of fuel -- and AAA reminds drivers that EVs won't need oil changes, either. EVs also boast less wear and tear on their brakes than traditional vehicles. Of course, technology improvements also will drive down the cost of owning an EV thanks to cheaper battery replacements and wall-mounted chargers.

Although EVs get major publicity, few fully electric models are on sale. The most popular EV is the Nissan Leaf hatchback, while other well-known models include the Tesla Model S, Ford Focus Electric and new FIAT 500e.

The Nissan Leaf debuted for the 2011 model year and offers an EPA-rated 75-mile range for a starting price of less than $30,000. The Tesla Model S is available from $71,000 to $106,000, with range varying from 155 miles to around 300.

What it means to you: Many shoppers don't realize just how practical electric cars can be. So if a vehicle purchase is in your near future, we suggest further exploring this option.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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