• Small but growing EV market
  • Enthusiastic and diverse group of drivers
  • Economic and environmental advantages over gas-powered vehicles

In a classic children's book by Dr. Seuss, Sam-I-Am begs another character to try a dish called green eggs and ham. The character resists, avoiding the unknown and assuming he will not like something that sounds different and unappealing. Of course, he eventually gives in and, to his surprise, finds that he does like the strange-sounding dish.

The book is a parable for children, but grownups too sometimes need to forget their expectations and try new things. Electric vehicles (EVs) have had their "green-eggs-and-ham" moment, but few who try the technology are not ultimately impressed. That's why their popularity is exploding, with new EV registrations growing rapidly.

National Plug In Day celebrated the trend, as EV drivers came together to raise awareness about electric vehicle technology at more than 90 celebrations across the U.S. and worldwide. Electrics from several manufacturers were on hand at a National Plug In Day event in Atlanta, AutoTrader.com's hometown. Drivers arrived quietly in electric models from brands such as Nissan, Tesla, Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota and Mitsubishi.

Representatives of the diverse group explained why they chose to try an electric car, and the advantages they found since making the switch from gasoline. The most common answers had little to do with environmental concerns. Instead, drivers overwhelmingly cited low operating costs as the biggest advantage. Avoiding dependence on imported oil was also a factor, but it took a back seat to practicality.

With production of its Leaf EV totaling 35,000 units since its 2010 introduction, Nissan is the world's biggest producer of electric vehicles. We asked Travis Parman, Nissan's director of corporate communications, how the automaker's perception of the average EV driver had changed since 2010.

"We've always incorporated not just the environmentalists, but the pragmatists, too," Parman said. "The pragmatists were close on the heels of the 'enviro' folks. The pragmatists said, 'the money equation completely makes sense for me.' Now, there are people who like [EV technology] because it's fun. [The Nissan Leaf] is such a quiet vehicle. In households where it's the second or third car, it becomes the go-to car for the family because it's agile, nimble, easy to run around town."

New-car shoppers interested in lowering costs of ownership by reducing fuel and repair expenses should consider an electric car. It may not be the right choice for every driver, but as Sam-I-Am would suggest, you don't know for sure until you try it.

What it means to you: If you're interested in lowering your vehicle operating costs, try an electric car such as the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric, or a plug-in hybrid such as the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-In or Ford C-MAX Energi.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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