Will Lenders Buy Into Higher Payments?

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ANN ARBOR, Mich.-Will lenders qualify borrowers for a higher payment on an electric car than a comparable gas model?

Larry Tuttle, president of the Michigan Electric Auto Association, asked that question, pointing to the potential for monthly gas and maintenance savings electric car owners should enjoy. "It will be interesting to see if financials allow consumers to buy more car, since their monthly cash flow will be higher than if they owned a gas vehicle."

The battery packs in the new cars, now lithium-ion versus nickel hydride, should overcome the initial battery problems experienced by the first hybrids, suggested Tuttle, who added a long-term battery warranty is still essential to back up these new autos. "No one has driven a car for 10 years with those big battery packs. So it is a little risky regarding how the batteries will behave. But as long as manufacturers stand behind them, there should be no difficulties," he said. But the electric vehicles also require a charging station with a dedicated 20-amp circuit to the existing electric box, and costs about $2,000 if an electrician performs the work. "You can plug the car into any 110- or 220-volt outlet you have in the garage," said Tuttle. "But the breaker in the box has to be rated for the amount of voltage required."

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