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3 Ways Consumers Overestimate Their Electric Cars

Stocks in this article: TM GM NSANY

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When you talk to an electric car owner, chances are you will hear how much better an EV (electric vehicle) is compared to a regular gasoline/diesel car, and why you absolutely must buy one. I have identified three reasons EV enthusiasts often overstate their case.

Reason Number One: Poor Objects of Comparison

Most EV buyers compare their new purchase with their previous car, which was on average three to 10 years old. This makes for an unfair comparison. It is not apples-to-apples.

Speaking of apples, it reminds me of how people who get their first smartphone in the form of an iPhone are certain that it's vastly superior to the best Android smartphones on the market. They are comparing their iPhone with whatever old junk they used before 2008 or 2010.

In that comparison, of course the iPhone is vastly better. However, it says nothing of how it compares with today's best Android smartphones. They just didn't compare it against a Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S5 or something equivalent.

It is absolutely true that even experienced automotive journalists who compare all sorts of cars all day long mostly agree that EVs are smoother to drive in city traffic. An electric motor has superior torque and linearity and there is no downshifting or other jerky behavior.

However, in comparison to what? Clearly the EV will be vastly superior to almost any three- to 10-year-old car, even a premium one. But to the best $30,000-$60,000 cars of today as opposed to three to 10 years ago?

A lot has happened to car performance over the last three to 10 years. The newest cars have far better transmissions, shifting far more smoothly. Many mid-range cars now have up to eight or nine gears, and the best CVTs (continuously variable transmissions) are butter-smooth, too.

Furthermore, the gasoline/diesel engines themselves are smoother than they used to be, and are better isolated from noise. On top of that, all new cars have better NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) than they used to have, even a couple of years ago.

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