Industry experts buckle up for future of electric vehicles

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – When Russell Street looks over the parking lot of Columbus Nissan and hops into an electric vehicle, he sees a world of possibilities for the future.

“It is still developing. It is almost like the cell phone. We are still in the early stages with a lot more progress and developments to be made,” said Street, Manager at Columbus Nissan.

He knows it’s a matter of time before EVs take up more room on the lot.

Right now, the state is working on how to make EV ownership a smoother ride.

Timothy Wunrow is the MSU EcoCAR Team Project Manager, who sees opportunities and tests ahead.

“As for the future of electric vehicles, we do not have a good charging infrastructure yet. And so, there are a lot of challenges to adopting electric vehicles. It does seem like that is the future of where the automotive industry is going. And so, it will be an interesting discussion to talk about what are the challenges here, how Mississippi is facing those challenges, and how Mississippi is unique in facing these challenges as opposed to a lot of other states,” said Wunrow.

Wunrow also knows the future of the automotive world is more than your typical gas engine.

“My opinion on this has changed recently. I think electric vehicles are a step into the future, but I do not think that it is the final stage of vehicles. I think something with better energy will be the move long term, but I do think that it is the next step towards that,” said Wunrow.

Street is unsure what electric vehicles will look like or how they will operate in 20 years. But there are some immediate advantages that are known right now.

“You do not have oil changes because there is no engine oil. So, there is a little less maintenance on the electric motors,” said Street.

“The Tesla superchargers are crazy expensive to install, but there are some lower-level chargers like level two chargers that you can plug into an outlet. So, that is basically the same as plugging in a washer or a dryer. Those do not take tons of wires, but there is a pretty heavy upfront, you are talking about possibly thousands of dollars. Combining that with the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is pretty significant, but you do slowly get those returns as you continue to use it,” said Street.

Street has some advice for anyone who thinking about buying an electric vehicle.

“The main thing is to do a needs analysis of how you use your car, and decide if you need that need now, or do you need to wait until there are more charging stations,” said Street.

The state of Mississippi has a total of 145 charging stations, which is just under five for every 100,000 people. This is much lower than the national rate which is 19 for every 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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