Had an interesting opportunity the other day - had driven past a dealership (MC Electric) that, not surprisingly, offered electric vehicles rather than internal combustion sorts - which piqued my interest.
Given fuel prices and the fact that Mom's car is aging (and at 79, she's given up freeway driving), I stopped in after a relatively upbeat visit to the medical guru, and chatted with a staffer - ended up even going for a test drive of a Miles Electric vehicle, a rather boxxy 4.5 seat affair, speed-governed to 35mph (a new highway legal model governed at 80mph expected in early '09).
In terms of drive-ability, pickup was good and braking was acceptable. I was put off a bit by the dull hum rather than the usual engine noise - nothing huge, but the absence was strange when I'm used to the engine noise as part of the environment cluing me in on what's going on with a vehicle at any given point. A note, batteries need replacing roughly every 5 years at a cost of about $400 a whirl.
Regenerative brakes (a brake that generates electricity when employed), and the ability to plug in to any normal 110v AC socket at a home or business are pretty darned handy. Three point seat belts are in place, but no airbags in the current models.
At 22k for a new car with air conditioning and all the standard features on board, it's not a bad deal - and for someone with a short to moderate commute or in errand mode, it's ideal. Seventy-five cents for a full charge, lower maintenance costs, reduced insurance (due to the governed 35mph top speed) tot out to saving around 3k a year according to dealership figures - and the quiet satisfaction of knowing you're not paying any fuel taxes to support government programs you disagree with.
I'm recommending it to Mom, and suggest for folks who need a new vehicle and are tired of gas prices (and with the coming election, more than likely no hope of improvement for four years..) that electric is coming of age.