Electric cars are becoming more and more popular, and with good reason. There are a lot of benefits to having an electric car and their technology is only getting more and more impressive. In twenty years it is safe to assume that most cars will be electric, so now is a great time for many people to dip their toes in the world of EV. But if these are uncharted waters for you, you might be wondering where to start.
Here’s your ultimate guide to buying an electric car.
What is an electric car and how is it different from a hybrid car?
An electric car is exactly what it sounds like: a car that runs entirely on electricity and uses no gas. They are different from hybrid cars, which run on both electricity and gas. These hybrid vehicles run on their electric engine until they reach a certain speed, and at that point the gas engine takes over. There are a lot of benefits to hybrid cars as well, especially if you are nervous to make the jump to fully electric. But electric cars are undoubtedly the cars of the future.
What are the pros of buying an electric car?
It’s good for the environment.
One of the biggest benefits of an electric car is that it is good for the environment. It’s no secret that fossil fuels have countless negative effects on the world we live in, from greenhouse gasses to the effects of fracking. But electric cars can help us to greatly reduce the amount of gas we are dependent on and help the environment a great deal.
It’s good for your wallet.
Aside from the big picture benefit, switching to electric can save you a lot of money. Not only do you save money on gas (it’s hard to say exactly how much, but in general EV owners spend about a quarter on electric charges than gas car owners spend on gas) but they also save on maintenance and repairs. Some studies have found that for every $30 a gas car owner spends on repair and maintenance, an electric vehicle owner spends $7. This number is expected to decrease as more mechanics become familiar with electric vehicles. When it comes to monthly costs, an electric car is far better for your wallet than a gas car.
It’s good for your driving experience.
Electric cars can offer a better driving experience than their gas counterparts. This is because gas engines need to build torque and power, while electric engines can yield more instantaneous results. With every new generation of electric vehicles the acceleration becomes more instantaneous and the experience becomes better overall.
What are the cons of buying an electric car?
The range can be limiting.
Many electric vehicles on the market today cannot match the range capacity of a gas car on a single tank of gas. Some EVs have very short ranges (such as the Mazda MX-30 which only has a 100 mile range) which may not be a practical option for many people.
The infrastructure is not yet in place.
Perhaps the biggest issue with electric cars is that our world is not yet set up for them. There are far fewer places where you can charge your car than there are gas stations, so you need to be hyper aware of the range that your electric car has. If you live in a rural part of the country that is slower to adapt to technology, your town may be totally unequipped to handle EVs and you will therefore need to rely solely on your at home charges.
They are more expensive upfront.
While your charges and repair costs are significantly lower than gas cars, the upfront cost of buying an electric vehicle is much higher. Many EVs cost $10,000 more than equivalent gas cars. This can be especially limiting for many people and can make electric cars a non-option. There are incentive programs in place to make this additional cost more palatable. The electric car tax credit is one of the most well known incentives. It offers:
- A federal income tax credit of up to $7,500 on select new EVs.
- A federal income tax credit of up to $4,000 on used EV purchases (cars must be less than 2 years old) .
While this can help soften the price, it might not be enough for some people.
What to consider when picking an electric car.
If you think that an electric car might fit your lifestyle well, there are a few things to consider when selecting the perfect car for you. While ten years the options were extremely limited, today it is a different story. Most major brands have at least one electric car option, with some offering a whole fleet. So here are some questions to ask when deciding which electric car is right for you.
What range do you need?
A major consideration for most people is the battery range that you will need. If you generally have a short commute and only take your car out for nearby errands, this won’t matter too much for you. But if you routinely take long trips or have a longer commute, it is important to get a car that has some significant range. The 2023 Lucid Air currently has the longest range with 516 miles on a single charge. Some other great options for long ranges include the 2023 Tesla Model S (405 miles), the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 (361 miles), and 2023 Mercedes EQS Sedan (350 miles).
What type of charging capabilities do you have?
You will also need to think about what sort of charging situation you have available. Electric charging capabilities can be broken into three categories: level 1, level 2, and DC fast charging. Level 1 charging is what most of us have in our homes: standard 120 volt charging outlets. While it is possible to charge on this level, it will take a very long time to do so. In fact an empty 250 mile range EV would take 50 hours to charge from empty on a standard 120 volt outlet.
If you are considering buying an electric car you should try to have a level 2 charging option available to you, which is a 240 volt outlet. While you may be able to use an adapter and charge off of a heavy duty outlet in your home (such as what powers your clothes dryer), it might be worth it to you to have a hard wired charging station installed in your garage. This can reduce your charging time significantly.
Level 3 charging is the most powerful charge for EV. It is unlikely a residential area will have this, but your work or another nearby area may have the capabilities. Some makers offer discount clubs if you use their affiliated charging stations, so this may affect which vehicle is best for your location.
What is your budget?
As we mentioned before, electric vehicles are more expensive than gas cars. But there is a large range of prices in this bracket. The most affordable EV on the market right now is the 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV with a price starting as $19,995. But after Cherovlet the next most affordable option jumps up to $29,135 with the 2023 Nissan Leaf. There are a considerable number of options in the $30,000 - $50,000 range, including the 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 with a price tag of $32,790 and the Tesla Model Y AWD at $41,630. As the price approaches six figures there are even more options. As the price increases, so does the charging range, the luxury, and the power. So it will very much be a question of what your budget is.
What are your other vehicle requirements?
Again, ten years ago there were very few options available for EV. But now there are electric vehicles that can fit into many different lifestyles. Do you want a small and simple car for getting from here to there? A Chevrolet Bolt or Nissan Leaf may be perfect. Do you need lots of room and extra cargo space? A Rivian R1S SUV and Ford F-150 Lightning pickup might be better options for you. Are you all about the luxury experience with all the bells and whistles? The BMW i7 or Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan might be better options. But with the amount of EVs on the market today you can certainly shop around and look for a car that meets all of your needs.
And that’s your guide to buying an electric vehicle.
Electric vehicles are the future and it's safe to say that soon we will all be making the switch. So if now is the right time for you to dive in, do your research and make sure you are making an informed decision.
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