In my wet dreams of a few years ago--shortly after GM "killed" the electric car (the EV-1, a prototype for electric cars everywhere--I yearned for a cheap gasoline-free car.
I even published a small booklet about the gas-free cars of the time--such as the Toyota Rav 4 hatchback and Honda natural gas powered Accord of the early 90's.
Today I own one, a Toyota Prius Prime (a plug-in hybrid, or PHEV) that can go 25 miles without sipping an ounce of gasoline (on flat ground). It wasn't cheap. But we had waited for about a year for a Tesla Model 3, ALL EV, with a promised 200 plus mile range.
We got impatient, and pulled our $1000 deposit (I still own some stock, though).
A 25 mile range seems minuscule compared to the 200 plus mile range that the Chevy Bolt already gets on a charge but it works for us as we have two places about that distance apart and often commute the distance and plug in overnight.
And, amazingly, we sometimes get up to 1000 miles before we have to fill up the gas tank. Stunning. Even on gasoline we get 50 plus mpg and since buying the car a couple months back the average mpg (equivalent) has barely gone below 75. (It registers on a screen).
It cost us $32,000 with a 7 year warranty on parts and electronic systems.
We can afford it but many still cannot. The Nissan Leaf, all EV, has a range of 75 plus miles. On the road since 2010, there is an aftermarket on 3-4 year old cars with 35 plus mile ranges--and prices are as low as $9000 or so for a very reliable car. (I almost bought one a couple years ago after my 25 year old Honda Accord began to suffer from old age infirmities).
Although I'm a DIYer, I knew that there were books out on how to build your own EV. (McGraw Hill has one). Also, books exist on running your diesel with biodiesel. I just never thought it would be worth the effort. Especially before lithium ion batteries (that are as small as double A's that you stick in your tv remotes) came into being.
China, alas, is getting a stranglehold on a major component of lithium ion batteries--cobalt--and it's just too bad GM blew it with its early EV but it's catching up with its Volts and Bolts.
Sales in the US of EV's jumped 55% last year according to automakers, a number of which are now in the game.
I'm very happy--and a bit smug--that I now own our very own PHEV. We had power outages in our town and in a worst case scenario gas pumps would be crippled and we'd become very highly paid Uber-type drivers (just kidding, our friends would likely ride free).
Twenty years ago Sherry Boschert wrote a book about plug-in hybrids being the future of cars. I had the book in my library for years, and now I have the car. The premiseof the book was that the auto industry HAD to embrace plug-ins, and the first was a modified Toyota with deep cycle (marine) batteries that some solar electric systems still have for back-up power (most solar electric systems are grid-tied, and if the porer goes out area-wide, the power goes out in YOUR home, too.
All this is really something to think about While gas lines of the late 70's are history, producing or distributing petroleum for vehicles remains a hugely inefficient endeavor (one wonders how giant fuel trucks can justify delivering to our little town of 6400 hundreds of miles from the nearest port or refinery.)
With electrcity as fuel (ideally produced by solar panels) you can plug in at home and many other places now (even free). Fast charging stations are everywhere, often free.
This kind of juice ain't going out of style--thank Tesla (Nicola, that is) and Edison. It's amazing that electricity didn't have any commercial application a little over 100 years ago. (And digital commerce was until a quarter century ago simply a fantasy.)
And electricity--produced by solar, wind, water or even natural gas--is far less polluting than burning wood or oil for fuel.