From the Phoenix Business Journal

What a month for Tesla. The first Model X sport utilities were delivered in Phoenix, the Model 3 unveil is due March 31 and I finally got to drive a Model S with its new autopilot system.

A recent week in the redesigned Chevrolet Volt confirmed my support for its plug-in hybrid strategy. But after driving the Tesla Model S with its high-tech, swanky surrounds, impressive range, and literally “ludicrous” speed, I’m also joining all-electric fans.

That view comes despite today’s low gas prices and range anxiety. Running errands last weekend, I found costs up a bit again at $1.90 a gallon (the nationwide average is $1.98), but experts don’t expect a major increase to stick anytime soon.

Devin Lindsay said low gas prices shouldn’t affect electric vehicle sales.

A recent Phoenix transplant from Detroit, he compiles the North American alternative propulsion powertrain forecast for IHS Inc., an information and analytics provider.

“We view the electric market pushed more from a regulatory standpoint than driven from consumers,” he said. Fuel economy mandates mean hybrids and electrics are going to be here whether people buy them or not.

But Tesla has produced “a car like no other,” he said. It attracts buyers with its safety, speed and features.

Model S deliveries jumped 76 percent in fourth-quarter 2015 and Tesla reported another increase in annual revenue to $3.7 billion. As of late February, the total exceeded 114,000.

Overall U.S. car sales are up as well, hitting a record 17.5 million last year, or $570 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Electric and plug-in hybrid sales also were up at year end, according to The new Volt and Tesla Model S were the main contributors, while traditional hybrid sales were down.

Bill Sheaffer, executive director of the Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition, agrees electrics are gaining momentum.

“We are still looking at an equivalent off-peak electric cost of about 50 cents per gallon,” he said. Maintenance costs also are much lower with no transmission or fluids to change and longer-lasting brakes with regenerative charging.

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