Electric cars: way of the future?

If you're an Australian fleet manager, you're probably considering the effects new technological advances will have on future vehicle choices.

Electric cars have been hailed as the way of the future, but Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada says he does not think there is a market for them.

According to Mr Uchiyamada, aka the "father of the Prius", hybrid cars are still the way to go and long term plans include introducing a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle to the market in 2015.

The difference between electric cars and fuel cell electric vehicles is that electric cars store electricity in the battery while fuel cells actually produce their own electricity from a chemical reaction caused by the hydrogen, and therefore have no emissions.

Hyundai and Honda are also planning on introducing fuel cell vehicles to the market to join Honda's FCX Clarity and Mercedes-Benz's F-Cell.

Mr Uchiyamada said fuel cell vehicles are a better option because they do not take as long to refuel and can go longer without stopping for fuel.

On the other hand, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said in a press conference that he did not think hydrogen powered vehicles could be produced at a "reasonable cost" to motorists, according to Auto News.

General motors are seeking ways to make batteries more affordable, and research shows the cost to run an electric car is considerably less than to keep a petrol car running.

The cost of lithium-ion batteries is set to decrease by half by 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Research by myelectriccar.com.au indicates the cost to fuel an electric car could set the average Australian back just over $2 a week.

Electric cars also have fewer parts because there is no need for a starter motor, water pump, radiator, fans or alternator, amongst other components needed to transfer gas into power - making them cheaper to maintain.

Those who look after fleet management software might want to keep their eye out for new developments over the next few years, particularly if they are considering upgrading their fleet.