At this point in time, choosing an electric car is going to be more difficult than ever. Not only is the technology so new that many people are barely aware of it, let alone familiar with it, but the selection has yet to reach any type of substantial point. Many manufacturers are in the process of bringing out their own versions of the electric vehicle, but many are not scheduled to come out until the 2012 or 2013 model years. There are currently several hybrid electrics, but the variety of all-electrics is limited. We’ll go over a little of both for you here. Just in case you’d like to get a head start on your decision of which to buy in the future, or if you’d like to go shopping for a current model (there are still quite a few currently out there),  here are some tips on how to choose the best electric car for your needs.

Travel Distance

As of now, the travel distance for a full-electric vehicle is the biggest drawback to owning one. Yes, they are environmentally friendly. Yes, they can save you hundreds in fuel costs. Unfortunately, the technology has not yet come far enough to where you can drive one for hundreds and hundreds of miles on a single charge. There is also a lack of charging stations readily available. The best you’re going to do in distance is the Tesla Roadster, which has made it up to 311 miles on a single charge. However, you’re going to have to pay the $109,000 price tag if you want to do it. That’s currently a little out of the budget of most buyers. Most buyers will need to be content with the approximate 100-mile range of other full-electrics like the Nissan Leaf if they want to stay in the $30K-$40K price range. Unless, of course, you go hybrid. Which brings us to our next topic…

Electric or Hybrid

Would owning a hybrid vehicle be a better choice? The answer quite simply is, if you want the ability to travel large distances without having to plug your car in every couple of hours, yes. Hybrids do still use internal combustion engines that run on gasoline. However, if you can find a vehicle that utilizes a full-hybrid system, such as the Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry, Ford Escape Hybrid, or Ford Fusion Hybrid, then you’ll have a vehicle which is capable of running strictly off the electric motor, utilizing the internal combustion engine only when the batteries deplete, or when the electric motor needs a little assistance.

On the other hand, if you’re simply looking for a get-around-town car that is only going to be driven short distances at a time, an electric can actually save you a bundle in fuel costs. One thing you will have to deal with is the limited space in an all-electric vehicle. You’re not going to find many in the full-size luxury sedan category. That’s mostly due to the fact that additional weight adds additional drain on the batteries. The more you carry, the less distance you can travel. Hybrids don’t succumb to that issue as much, and are available in many different lines of vehicle. So, if you’re in need of space or looking for an eco-friendly family vehicle, your best bet is to stick with the hybrids. There are currently several more options available and more trims and amenities to choose from.

Size and Style

If you’re going with an all-electric, your options are fairly limited in this area. Any full-electric that is bigger than a compact sedan is going to run you a very pretty penny. Contrarily, if you’d rather go with a hybrid vehicle, your options are growing with each model year. There are plenty of compact sedans in the hybrid market. Everyone knows about them because they were the first models to come out. But if you’re looking for a larger sedan, Lincoln offers the MKZ in a hybrid version, Lexus has the GS 450h, and Audi is scheduled to launch the Q5 hybrid this year. There are also plenty of SUVs and trucks available, such as the Cadillac Escalade hybrid, Chevy’s Tahoe and Silverado 1500, the Ford Escape, and the Toyota Highlander.

Price

If you stick with the all-electric, your price range will vary from $30K all the way to nearly $130K. That’s quite a broad spectrum. Unfortunately, the spectrum doesn’t narrow much when choosing a hybrid electric vehicle. Prices on hybrids start with the compact Honda Insight at $18,200, and skyrocket all the way to $111,350 for the Lexus LS 600h L. However, if you’d like a decent mid-to-full-size sedan or an SUV, you’re probably going to be in the range of $26K to $50K.

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