San Diego leads US in electric vehicles per capita

SAN DIEGO - San Diego is one of the biggest markets in the nation for electric cars, and the latest models were on display Friday at the San Diego International Auto Show.

One area of the auto show is the Eco Center, where visitors can learn more about ways to save money while helping to save the environment. Electric vehicles come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

"The idea of having an electric car that had its own onboard ability to recharge just made sense," said Chevy Volt owner and Pacific Beach residents Tom Thomas.

Thomas has owned his Chevy Volt about 18 months. He also has solar panels at his home.

"Basically, between the solar array and the car, I calculate that after about four-and-a-half years everything is paid for," said Thomas.

San Diego has the highest number of electric cars on the roads per capita in the country. The price tags on the cars at the San Diego International Auto Show range from $35,000 to $50,000, but first-time electric vehicle buyers get a $2,500 rebate from the state plus a $7,500 federal income tax credit totaling $10,000 in savings.

Once it's home, just plug it in.

"You can plug it into a regular 3-prong plug or you can purchase a 240-volt charging station," said April Bolduc of San Diego Gas & Electric.

On average, an electric car will go about 100 miles before needing to be recharged.

"What I find is that San Diegans only drive about 25 miles a day," said Bolduc.

The battery will have to be replaced after about 10 years or 100,000 miles, and that can be expensive. The cost to replace it ranges from $1,000 to $6,000, depending on year and model of car.

SDG&E told 10News they offer special low-electricity rates to electric vehicle owners. During peak hours of 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., customers will pay 29 cents per kilowatt-hour, and during off peak hours from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m., the rate drops to 16 cents per kilowatt-hour.

"Every time I see the latest news on TV about gas prices, I can just smile and chuckle," said Thomas.

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