NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- One of the most common questions about plug-in electric cars is thereason for buying one. In this article I will break down the keyargument and its alternative:1. Cost: Is there a positive payback? 2. Premium: If there is no payback, is there another reason to "payup" the extra money to buy a plug-in electric car? Let's start with cost and payback: With an electric car, you can drive mostly somewhere between three and four miles per kilowatt hour, depending on the model. The average price ofelectricity in the U.S. is between 11 cents and 12 cents per kWh. Let's fora moment disregard the fact that more and more people now can chargeat night when rates are considerably lower than 11 cents per kWh.
Wear and TearAs for service, the electric car is clearly cheaper. Just inflate thetires and eventually change the brakes and tires, and you're done. Bythe way, regenerative braking means less brake wear. That said, manycars nowadays have free service included for the first three years or36,000 miles, so this may not seem that important at first. As for battery replacement, there is clearly an eventual cost here.Current electric cars have warranties of eight or 10 years (100,000 or150,000 miles). At least some Chevrolet Volts have already gone wellbeyond 200,000 miles, and none of them has yet required a batteryswap.
The Luxury FactorThe biggest point here is that it's only when it comes to electriccars that we talk about payback and economics when we buy a moreexpensive car. What do I mean by that? Well, consider this. You can always buy a basic car -- Toyota Corolla, say -- for $17,000,and then try to justify the economics of buying a more expensive car.What's the "payback" of a BMW 328 over a Toyota Corolla? What's thepayback of a Mercedes S550 over the Toyota Corolla? What's thepayback of a Bentley Mulsanne over the Toyota Corolla?
- Silent operation. Why are you buying a Rolls Royce anyway?
- Instant torque: Go-kart fun of extreme acceleration.
- Smooth power delivery: No herky-jerky shifts and engine revving up and down.
- No incessant braking: Regenerative brakes mean you just lift thefoot off the accelerator.
- No oil spills or gasoline fumes in the garage.
- No visits to the gasoline station. Just plug it into the outlet inthe garage; same as your smartphone.
- Less wear and tear: Ability to upgrade the car's performance over time.
- More luggage space: If the battery is in the floor (Tesla Model S).