Nissan Leaf being charged

Some analysts may want to not just kill the electric car, but pin down it's automotive corpse with a stake. However, others are ready to step up and say that this would be a very serious error.

It's been argued that that electric vehicles won't be cheaper to operate and will have a hard time turning a profit. The suggestion is that, since conventional cars are cheaper than EVs in the short term, attempts to sell electric cars are doomed. Even if the costs are a wash, some say, why bother? After all, we're just substituting the cost of electricity for the cost of oil, right? Well, as it turns out, that substitution alone has tremendous value.

By transitioning away from oil, electric vehicles give the country (and the world) something that's not possible with conventional engines: flexibility. Electricity can come from many sources. Yes, fossil fuels may be dominant in the United States electrical mix at the moment, but nuclear power and renewables are also alternatives. With the cost of solar power constantly falling, and photovoltaic solar possibly becoming cheaper than coal in the next few years, the electrical mix will steadily become less dependent on fossil fuels over time. Obviously, that won't happen for oil. Plus, oil and other fossil fuels have additional uses, such as making plastics. By not burning oil pointlessly in our gas tanks, we conserve the material for those other needs.

No matter how much drilling is done, oil is steadily becoming harder to find and more expensive to extract. No matter what its price, burning oil generates both greenhouse gases and other pollution. Meanwhile, electricity is becoming greener and more available. It may even become cheaper as multiple sources of power spar in the marketplace. So, look past the up-front sticker price. Just trading oil for electrons is a trade worth making.