With each passing year, electric vehicles (EVs) become more commonplace on American streets. Whether it's the prestige of EV ownership or a desire to lower our carbon footprint, drivers in the market to purchase new vehicles are exploring EVs fully. A greater number of automobile manufacturers are answering the call, with companies like General Motors planning to sell only EVs by 2035 and Volkswagen aiming to make their EVs cheaper than gas-powered models, just to name a few.
Even with all the innovation and enthusiasm, making the leap to EV ownership isn't for everyone. The charging infrastructure is still small, making it difficult to charge on-the-go in many parts of the country.
WHAT ARE YOUR DAILY DRIVING NEEDS?
EVs tend to be more expensive with many models costing over $100k, so before buying, it pays to understand whether an EV fits your lifestyle. For example, charging networks are growing, but still sparse in many areas. This means anyone who drives more than 150-200 miles each day will need to rely on public or workplace charging each day to avoid becoming stranded.
Many EVs are small, with very few including third row seating. If you frequently transport lots of kids, exploring a plug-in hybrid may be more your speed. Many PHEVs can run 30-40 miles on a full charge before switching to their gas engine, perfect for short commutes around town. PHEVs also qualify for some of the same tax credits as EVs.
WHAT IS YOUR CHARGING PLAN?
Although the network of fast-charging stations is growing, America's charging infrastructure still leaves a lot to be desired, making extended road trips in EVs is a challenge. While level 2 (3-19 kW output) chargers are common, they need eight hours to fully charge a battery. Many drivers opt to install level 2 charging at home since standard outlets (110V) take up to 24 hours to fully charge a battery. If you rely on 110V charging and you have a lengthy commute, charging options at your workplace can often sway a purchase when considering an EV. Direct Current Fast Chargers (350 kW output) can fill most EVs to 80% in 20-40 minutes, but these chargers are rare and still largely commercial.
UNDERSTAND THE COST OF EV OWNERSHIP
Currently, the average EV costs more to purchase than gas-powered counterparts, but with federal and state tax breaks coupled with huge savings in vehicle maintenance, relying on only the sticker price and driving range to tell a complete story is a mistake. Certain makes of EV (not including Tesla or GM) offer a $7,500 Federal tax credit, which can drop the price of a car from $32k to $25k. Some states and local utility companies even offer incentives for the installation of a charging station at your home. When you also consider that EVs are far cheaper to maintain, never need an oil change or a gas station, and require only annual or bi-annual maintenance checks, it’s then that the reduced cost of EV ownership starts to come into focus. Bottom line, EVs are cheaper to own for extended periods of time with the average EV driver spending 60% less to power their vehicle and half as much on repairs and maintenance.
USED EVs can be a way for drivers to get into an EV more affordably but be wary of the market and do your research. Evaluate any used EV you're considering fully. Batteries degrade over time with use and can be expensive to recondition or replace. Don't be afraid to rely on a trusted mechanic to inspect any vehicle you’re considering for purchase.
THE BOTTOM LINE
That said, a used EV can be a great option for drivers as most EVs depreciate more quickly than their gas-powered counterparts. Additionally, used EVs often accumulate fewer miles due to their range limitations. Other benefits like newer tech and amenities are often included since most vehicles for sale are only a few years old.
Knowing whether an EV or a PHEV is right for you is an individual decision based largely upon whether they fit your lifestyle, or your lifestyle can be adjusted to accommodate these vehicles’ quirks and idiosyncrasies. It’s a choice that’s becoming easier and easier for auto buyers to make each day, thanks to shifting work/life priorities, adjusted commutes, and environmental concerns. As the nation’s charging network and vehicle battery technology improves, range limitations are becoming less of an issue and EVs are just the practical alternative many Americans are looking for in their next vehicle.