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Thirteen years ago today (winter solstice 2002), my former wife and I bought our first electric vehicle (EV). We were early adopters for certain, but we instantly met a whole group of people who had been driving electric vehicles for months, and in some cases, many years. Granted, we were a small group, maybe five thousand at its peak and on its way toward decline since. As we were to learn, the very industry that had made the cars was busy crushing them by the hundreds as fast as they could get them back from the drivers who loved them. But this attempt to kill the electric car did not succeed. Quite the contrary.

Today, close to 400,000 plug-in cars are on US roads.

Today, close to 400,000 plug-in cars are on US roads, with over a million worldwide. Consumers have 20 different plug-in models from which to choose. From a modest plug-in hybrid to the best car in history, a fully-electric super car that can out perform the most powerful sports cars on the planet (Tesla Model S). Those of modest means are able to go electric through the used EV market. Perfectly good electric vehicles are selling for as little as $8,000, a remarkable price considering the capability of these cars.

As people begin to understand the full impact climate change will have on society and our planet's flora and fauna, more and more will avail themselves of the opportunity to stop contributing to the problem by switching their electricity to a renewable source and their vehicles to electric. Doing these two things enables the average American to reduce their pollution footprint by over 90 percent.

Longer range affordable EVs are very close to market. These are cars with a 200-plus mile range that will sell for around $35,000, very close to the average price paid for a new car in the US (which hovered around $33,500 this year). Since about 14 million new cars were sold last year, this means that millions of Americans will be able to buy a fully-electric car that can handle 100 percent of their driving needs.

But it gets better.

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are just around the corner. In about five years, fully-autonomous cars will be available for sale. Few people will buy them, however, since car-sharing companies will own fleets of them, and you will be able to get door-to-door service for pennies on the dollar what it costs to own and operate your car.

No more car and insurance payments. No more washing, fueling, parking, dealing with the DMV or paying parking tickets or moving violations. Just clean, efficient, safe, and very low cost transportation. In addition to Tesla, Apple and Google are getting into this space. Many of the existing car makers are also well along in their efforts to build autonomous cars.

The economic benefits are enormous.

The economic benefits are enormous. Americans spend close to a trillion dollars every year on oil to move our vehicles. Using renewable electricity to do the same work will cost less than 20% of that, per mile traveled. Consumers using the automated car service will have, on average, more than 1,000 extra dollars to spend on local goods and services generating millions of new jobs throughout the country. This is a good thing, too, because one of the consequences of AVs is that virtually all driving jobs will go away. No more taxi or Uber drivers, no more truck or delivery drivers.

The AV's computers will be much more efficient, and much safer than humans. Let's face it, people have set a low bar for safe or efficient driving. Over 30,000 Americans die in car crashes every year. Saving those lives, and preventing crashes that hurt or maim hundreds of thousands will save us billions in health costs.

As for my 13 years driving an electric car, with four of those years working as a Nissan Leaf salesman, that ends today. My lease is up on the EV and I'm turning it in. I'll be going carless for the rest of my life. I have an electric motorcycle that affords me very inexpensive and extremely efficient transportation for almost all of my needs, and then there is car sharing for the rest.

Paul Scott is a long-time electric vehicle advocate and Nissan Leaf salesman. He is a founding member of Plug In America and a former president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Southern California. He's currently working on a documentary about his attempt to talk to President Obama about electric cars. This is his first article for AutoblogGreen. The picture above is from 2005.

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