Electric cars are seen by some as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil suppliers located in volatile areas such as the Middle East, the ex-Soviet bloc and South America.
But for many Australians, the perceived cost to own a "hybrid" or electric vehicle still outweighs the potential savings at the petrol pump.
Evidently, this year hybrid vehicles are expected to account for only about 0.5 percent of all new car sales, which equates to about 5000 cars, according to car insurance provider NRMA.
Considering Australians purchased almost 85,000 new cars in February alone, hybrid models hold a relatively insignificant market share.
However, with petrol price soaring to new highs in recent months, combined with the launch of a string of more affordable hybrids onto the market and some very low interest , car loans, electric cars are once again a talking point.
Electric v hybrid
An electric car is a plug-in, battery-powered vehicle, propelled by an electric motor. Hybrid technology, on the other hand, uses a conventional petrol engine supplemented by an electric motor and battery pack.
The idea is that you can have a smaller petrol engine, offering lower fuel consumption and when you need the extra power or torque to accelerate or climb a hill, the electric motor kicks in.
By using hybrid technology, manufacturers aim to get the best of both worlds, where you can have a larger car and lower fuel consumption, without sacrificing performance.
Most recently British luxury automotive company Rolls-Royce refuelled the electric car discussion when it unveiled a one-off prototype fully electric car — the 102EX or Phantom Experimental Electric — at the Geneva Motor show last month.
While the BMW-owned company has no plans yet to develop a production version, it released the economical model in an attempt to gauge market response.
It wants to ascertain how long the car can drive between re-charges, how long it operates in extreme weather conditions and whether or not the vehicle will provide an authentic "Rolls-Royce experience".
In the hybrid market, Toyota-owned Lexus has offered luxury hybrids since 2004 and it is rumoured that Porsche is set to launch a hybrid version of its Cayenne four-wheel drive and a plug-in hybrid sports car.
With affordable hybrid vehicles from Honda, Toyota and Ford also on the market, you don't have to be part of the wealthy elite to drive an electric-powered car.
Even if the hybrid's price tag is slightly higher than other petrol-guzzling cars, saving money at the pump will help to ease the cost of repaying your car loan.
And with interest rates as low as 5.99 percent for , new car loans, and 6.69 percent for used cars (less than two years old) available through RateCity, an electric car may be more affordable than you think.
Find best interest rates and no ongoing fees at RateCity.
In the market for a new car? Check out Australia's Best Value Cars.
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