Electric car options only increasing in 2017

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As the auto industry looks toward fewer emissions, better mileage, and less consumption for its cars, consumers can look for more vehicles of all types to come with charging sockets. (KABC)

BMW's i3 electric car plugs in to recharge its batteries. The exotic BMW i8 hybrid sports car also plugs in to charge up. And with the newest-generation of BMW's 5-series, there's another plug-in option.

For decades, the 5-series has been the benchmark for mid-size premium sport sedans. Lots of performance from a practical and comfortable car. And the 2017 5-series is available with a charging port in the 530e, a plug-in hybrid. Don't worry BMW enthusiasts: It's still a performer.

"It's not hard to get to get an electric motor to perform. But getting it to perform well in a neutral and balanced way, that's the challenge, and I think BMW has done a great job with that," said Rich Beam, lead instructor with the BMW performance driving school.

The car also carries the lowest base price of any of the new 5-series models at $51,400.

The 530e was build to perform, but when you don't need to run the car at full throttle, it offers quiet gas-free operation with only the electric motor in operation for up to 14 miles. That doesn't sound like much, but that earns the car a rating of 72 MPGe overall on the EPA's combined test cycle.

Not bad for a good-sized sport sedan, and it helps BMW meet its required corporate average fuel economy, as mandated by the U.S. government. Other countries around the world are also requiring improved fuel economy and reduced carbon output in new cars.

Adding some level of plug-in capability is a growing trend in the auto world to help accomplish that. In the T8 version of Volvo's XC90 SUV, a battery hybrid system lets it run on electricity alone for up to 18 miles. That could handle lots of local driving for many people, like stay-at-home parents. It is rather pricey, however, starting at $67,800.

Kia is also offering a new Optima plug-in hybrid sedan. It's good for up to 29 miles in electric mode, and like other models, you can save the battery power to use when you want to. Kia also sells a full-electric model, the Soul EV, and the Optima PHEV benefits from the same technology. Base price for this newest Optima model is $35,210.

For car manufacturers, these plug-in hybrid versions of regular cars help them improve their consumption and emissions levels, while still offering consumers desirable cars. And for consumers, they're a way for people to try out plug-in technology without having to deal with the limitations of a battery-only vehicle. Essentially, easing drivers into the idea of plugging in a car.

Also, in some cities around the world, high-pollution areas are designated as "EV only," so these cars that have the option of running on battery power will work in that situation.

As the auto industry looks toward fewer emissions, better mileage, and less consumption for its cars, consumers can look for more vehicles of all types to come with charging sockets.

Related Topics:
automotiveauto industryauto newscarelectric vehicles
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