Where once it felt like a far off promise of modern technology, nowadays owning an electric vehicle is a very real option. From environmental benefits to comparative costs of fuel, there are many factors to consider when deciding if your next car will be an EV or not.
“There’s a lot to consider,” says Lauren Fix, The Car Coach and author of three automotive books. “You really need to think about the reasons you’re buying it. There are certain limitations, so it’s not for everyone.”
Access to electric vehicle charging stations
For starters, she points out, a vehicle charging station is a must to keep your EV moving. That means apartment dwellers aren’t good candidates for ownership unless they happen to have a charging station in their parking garage.
“You have to have a garage because you have to be able to charge your car,” she says. “And you need to factor in the cost of having a charging station installed in your house because that’s something you have to have done by a professional electrician.”
Access to a charging station is important beyond the house, too, so Fix advises taking note of where you might be able to charge your vehicle when you’re away from home.
“People who buy electric cars often develop what we call ‘range anxiety,’ because they’re constantly thinking about how far they can go on the charge they have left,” she says.
Earlier in their popularization, choosing an EV over a gas-powered vehicle meant compromising on your maximum range. This isn’t necessarily the case anymore. Upper echelon EV’s can now go hundreds of miles on a single charge. The 2022 Tesla Model S, for example, has a maximum range of approximately 412 miles.1
“One thing you need to ask is how many actual miles are you driving every day? Also, are you ever in a situation where you might have to drive past your vehicle’s range and, if that happens, what are you going to do about it?”
Unlike gas stations, which are easy to find and never seem to be far away, charging stations are virtually non-existent in certain areas. That’s an important issue to address before making a purchase.
Questions to ask yourself before buying an electric vehicle
Of course, there are many other factors that go into buying any new car, and the EV is no exception. It does, however, come with its own unique set of questions, including:
What’s your motivation for buying an EV?
Environmental benefits are a popular motivation for going with an EV, and as technology improves, this is becoming more and more valid. The production of the car might not be a completely green process, but recycling methods for the battery that powers it have gradually improved over the years.2 Between these improved methods and the emission-free running of an electric vehicle, buying an EV is only becoming more of an environmentally beneficial choice.
What will your electric vehicle be used for?
If it’s for quick trips around town and a commute to and from work, no worries. But, EV’s still have a shorter range than gas-powered vehicles on average, so long road trips are best left to gas-powered models.3
Where do you live?
Remember that extreme heat can reduce the lifespan of an electric car’s battery, and extreme cold, though harmless to the battery’s lifespan, can cause overall performance to take a hit.4 Anyone living in places with extreme weather conditions needs to take that into consideration.
Make and model considerations
If, after careful evaluation, you decide that an EV fits your lifestyle, you should still put extra thought into the make and model. While Tesla might be leading the way in sales and innovation, automakers like Ford, Chevy, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW and others have EV offerings – and that represents a certain advantage to consumers.
Cars come to mind first when most people think about electric vehicles, and they comprise some of the premiere EV’s on the market today. The Tesla Model 3 tops Edmunds’ list of the best electric vehicles of 2021 and 2022. Quality electric cars can be found with a variety of makes these days, however, and the Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and Hyundai Ioniq attest to that, coming in only a few vehicles below the Model 3 on Edmunds’ list.
They might not be as top of mind as cars in the EV conversation, but SUV’s have made their way into the upper echelon of electric vehicles over the years. The Kia Niro, Volkswagen ID.4, and Hyundai Kona can be found in the second, third, and fourth best positions on Edmunds’ list.5
2020 didn’t see any electric trucks hit the vacant showrooms, however that is now changing. From the electric next generation of Ford’s long-running F-150 series to upstart EV manufacturer Rivian’s R1T, consumers can expect the arrival of the electric pickup truck to continue well into 2022.6
Cost of repairs
“You need to think about what you’re going to do if your car needs repairs,” Fix says, noting that if you purchase a car from a specialty automaker, you’ll have access to fewer repair centers. “But if you buy from an automaker like Nissan or Audi, they’re all over the place.” That means when your car needs to be repaired, it should be easier to get it serviced and to get a loaner car from the dealer.
If you’re still torn between an EV and a gas-powered model, Fix has a sure-fire way to get your final answer: Call your insurance agent.
“Find out the cost to insure it. Even if the cost of the cars is the same, the cost to insure them may not be. That should make the decision for you.”
1https://www.caranddriver.com/tesla/model-s, Accessed September 2021.
2https://www.science.org/content/article/millions-electric-cars-are-coming-what-happens-all-dead-batteries, Accessed September 2021.
3https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml, Accessed September 2021.
4https://www.caranddriver.com/research/a31875141/electric-car-battery-life/, Accessed September 2021.
5https://www.edmunds.com/electric-car/, Accessed September 2021.
6https://www.motortrend.com/news/future-electric-pickup-trucks?slide=1, Accessed September 2021.
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