Today's electric cars have three drawbacks that make them impractical as the sole source of transport for many people: a high purchase price, limited range per charge, and, usually, an hours-long recharge time. They work best for people who make only relatively short trips on a given day and who have ready access to a 240-volt battery charger for overnight charging. That usually means home-owners rather than high-rise apartment dwellers.
While statistics show that 78 percent of American drivers travel less than 40 miles a day, and 90 percent drive less than 50 miles a day, that doesn't mean that 40 or 50 miles is the longest trip those people ever need to make. Anyone who needs to make significantly longer trips even occasionally will run in to an EV's shortcomings.
An EV could be just right for short commutes and for urban home-owners who want a quiet, pollution-free car for bopping around town. Of course, nothing says an EV has to be somebody's only car. A conventional gas-powered car can fill in where an EV falls short—and vice versa. Likewise, a rented minivan could be an alternative for the annual long-distance road trip.
People who live in inner cities or apartments are also usually not good candidates at this point, because many don’t have dependable access to electrical outlets outdoors or in a garage, nor a place to install an electric-car charger.
And in some urban locations—especially in Connecticut, New York, and a few parts of California—electric utility rates are so high that it can be cheaper overall to drive an efficient hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius.
Also, if you live between the heart of the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic region, your electricity probably comes from coal, so driving an electric car there may not generate much environmental benefit, should that be a primary motivator.