Today, electric vehicles are more popular than ever. It’s becoming more and more common to see battery-powered cars on the road and plugged into charging stations. Technology is improving rapidly, and automakers are hard at work building new EVs of all shapes and sizes. If you’re thinking about buying or leasing an electric vehicle, here’s what you should know first.
The most obvious benefit of owning an electric car is not having to visit the gas station—unless you need coffee or snacks, of course. Consumer Reports found that charging at home can save EV owners up to $1,000 a year, a compelling reason to leave gasoline behind. Given that they have electric motors instead of engines, they are also less expensive to maintain on average.
EVs can also help the environment, as electric cars have zero tailpipe emissions and get you around more efficiently. Companies across all industries are working hard to lower their carbon footprint, and electric vehicles are key to reducing emissions in transportation. And while it’s true that emissions are produced by the manufacturing process for any vehicle, you can reduce the carbon debt by shopping for used electric vehicles.
Most drivers are used to driving cars with a gas-powered engine and filling up at a gas station. Electric vehicles are different by design; they are powered by an electric motor and battery. To recharge, you simply plug it in at home or at a public charging station. If you recharge your vehicle daily and plan around your daily commute, owning an EV can be a lot like owning a smartphone.
While it’s widely known that electric vehicles are efficient, many people don’t realize that they can also be surprisingly fun to drive. Modern examples of EVs produce instant torque, enabling them to accelerate quickly from a standstill. Even entry-level EVs like the Nissan Leaf can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in as little as 6.5 seconds, which is comparable to some sports cars.
Vehicles like the Toyota Prius combine an internal combustion engine and electric motor, which enables electric operation during initial acceleration and at low speeds. This can help save on fuel, especially in stop and go traffic. Plug-in hybrids add a small-capacity battery that enable all-electric driving for shorter distances, combining the appeal of an EV with the flexibility of a traditional car.
Wondering about the pros and cons of electric vehicles? For most people, saving money on gasoline is a big enough reason to make the jump. Of course, you’ll need a place to plug in and charge if you want to make that happen. This may not be a problem if you’re a homeowner or have EV charging readily available to you, but you may need to spend extra time planning your next road trip.
Charging an electric vehicle at home is fairly straightforward. You can plug into a traditional AC outlet or install a Level 2 charger for faster results. How long it takes to charge an electric vehicle will vary depending on both your car and your charging equipment. If you’re able to plug in overnight, you should have enough charge to handle a short commute or run basic errands.
If it’s your first time buying an electric vehicle, you’ll probably want to have a charging solution at home. And while charging with a standard 110-volt outlet is possible, reaching a full charge using that method can take some time. A 240-volt outlet, currently the most popular option for homeowners, enables Level 2 charging. You can expect to recover 20 miles of range each hour, which is four times faster than the basic alternative.
Getting a charging station installed at home can add additional costs to your EV adventure, but it’s also a long-term investment that can pay off big. You’ll need to purchase the equipment and have it professionally installed by an electrician, but luckily you may be able to claim a federal tax credit to help offset the cost. And if you live in an apartment, it never hurts to let the building management know about your interest in EV charging.
If you need to recharge when you’re away from home, you can use a public charging station and pay as you go. And as EVs increase in popularity, more charging stations are being built across the country, making long distance travel easier. You can use an app like Plugshare to find nearby stations and plan your route. The app includes user reviews, costs and hours, all thanks to the EV community.
Modern electric vehicles support Level 1 and Level 2 charging through the standard J1772 connector. Most (if not all) new EVs sold today support DC fast charging, which uses a special CHAdeMO connector. DC fast charging converts AC power into DC power prior to entering the vehicle, which charges vehicles with up to 80 miles of range for every 20 minutes of charging. To reduce wear, fast charging is limited to 80% of your battery capacity.
Tesla vehicles can connect to standard J1772 outlets using an included adapter, but they also have access to Tesla Superchargers, which is a proprietary charging station that can recharge up to 75 miles in five minutes. This makes them especially viable for long distance driving. At the moment, only Tesla vehicles are compatible with Superchargers, which can be found at convenient locations across the country, with plenty more on the way.
You may know that driving on electricity costs less than gasoline, but you may still be wondering about the exact cost to charge an electric vehicle. When it comes to home charging, what you pay will depend on where you live. The average price of electricity is 13.23 cents per kilowatt-hour. An EV like the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is estimated to use 25 kWh for every 100 miles, which would cost $3.30 to drive on average.
The equipment you use plays the most important role in determining how long you’ll need to keep the vehicle plugged in. Level 1 charging uses a standard AC outlet, charging up to 60 miles after 12 hours. A Level 2 charger requires special equipment, providing up to 250 miles after 12.5 hours. For an even faster experience, DC fast chargers can go from a 20 percent charge to 80 percent in an hour or less.
You might be surprised at the variety of electric vehicles available today, with many more on the way. The Mustang Mach-E, arriving in last summer 2021, represents a bold new direction for Ford’s legendary nameplate. Meanwhile, the Hummer EV will deliver an astounding level of performance and utility while producing zero emissions. Electric vehicles will soon defy common stereotypes, and they’ll be doing it in a big way.
Automakers are looking to electrify more vehicles across their entire lineup, signaling a huge shift that’s already underway in the industry. The technology is also improving all the time, particularly in the areas of range and charging speeds. It’s an exciting time to own an electric vehicle, and it’s safe to say that you’ll be seeing more of them at the dealership.
Electric vehicle tax credits and rebates can help offset the sticker price of EVs at the dealership. There is a federal tax credit worth up to $7,500, and states offer various rebates that can be worth up to $5,000 back. If you’re wondering about what you qualify for, it’s easy to check federal and state incentives for electric vehicles. Don’t forget about your utility company, which may offer additional rebates.
If you’ve got your eyes on the federal tax credit, keep in mind that it’s limited to 200,000 vehicles across each manufacturer’s lineup. Both electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles count toward this amount. After 200,000 qualifying vehicles are sold, the credit is reduced over the next twelve months until it’s completely phased out. Currently, new vehicles sold by Tesla and General Motors no longer qualify for the EV federal tax credit.
What about leases? Unfortunately, lessees of EVs can’t claim the federal tax credit, since the credit goes to the owner, and in a lease, the manufacturer owns the vehicle. The good news, however, is that dealers often pass on the savings in the form of a lower monthly payment. This can lead to some incredible deals on electric and plug-in vehicles, which can make them a compelling choice when compared to leasing a gas-powered car.
When electric vehicles were first introduced, range anxiety was a real concern for owners. Charging stations were fewer and farther between, making longer trips less feasible. But today, electric vehicles are compelling options for all kinds of lifestyles. Many of the latest EVs offer a driving range of at least 250 miles, and the lifespan of EV batteries looks promising as well.
The average round trip commute in the United States is between 35 and 50 miles. As long as you can plug in when you get home, you should be able to recover that range overnight. To maximize your battery, avoid driving aggressively and be mindful of extreme weather. And while your vehicle will let you know how many miles you have left, it’s always a good idea to leave a buffer in case of an unexpected detour.
Gas-powered cars require regular maintenance intervals that include changing the engine oil, differential fluid and transmission fluid. Because an electric vehicle has fewer moving parts, you won’t have to worry about the complexities of a traditional powertrain. You’ll still need to keep up with your tires, brake pads and wiper fluid, but these items are typically much simpler to maintain.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re choosing whether to buy or lease an electric vehicle. Batteries are getting more efficient, and driver-assistive technology is getting smarter. Leasing an EV will ensure that you have the latest and greatest. For buyers, you’ll want to make sure that the range is sustainable for your long-term needs. Either way, you can expect a confidence-inspiring warranty of at least 8 years or 100,000 miles.
There are plenty of new electric vehicles to choose from, with several all-new models to get excited about. But if you’re looking for a bargain, a used EV can be an outstanding value. Many of the best used electric vehicles have depreciated quickly in a short amount of time and are available for a fraction of their original MSRP. You’ll also be giving a car a second life, which helps reduce your overall carbon footprint.
Owner satisfaction is high across the board for electric vehicles, but reliability can vary, especially between entry-level and premium electric vehicles. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason, but a simpler design usually means fewer things that can go wrong. Add more technology into the mix, and you’ve got more variables to account for. But for most people, an EV will be no less reliable than a traditional gas-powered vehicle.
Extreme temperatures can impact any vehicle’s power and fuel efficiency, specifically the engine and tires. EV batteries are also affected by the weather, with both heat and cold leading to increased wear. Running the air conditioner will also reduce your mileage. To maximize your electric vehicle’s battery life, it’s a good idea to park in a covered space whenever possible.
Today, electric vehicles are a perfectly viable option for many lifestyles. Charging stations are more plentiful, and batteries last longer. But if you tend to do a lot of long-distance driving, it may make sense to have a backup vehicle when you need it. A hybrid may fit the bill nicely, especially if you value efficiency and sustainability. If you don’t do much driving, you can simply borrow or rent a car when you need to head out of town.
Wondering how much it costs to insure an electric vehicle? You can generally expect higher costs compared to a gas-powered car, due to higher value and increased repair costs. This is a greater risk for your insurance company, which leads to a green premium for early adopters. Don’t worry, though. The money you save on fuel and maintenance can help offset these costs.
There’s an app for everything these days, and cars are no different. If you buy an electric or plug-in vehicle, the automaker will most likely have a companion app you can use to track your vehicle’s location. Most importantly, you’ll know about its charging status and can adjust the temperature before you enter the vehicle. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for some vehicles. You can look forward to even more connectivity in the future.
We’re keeping tabs on the best electric vehicles you can buy today, whether they’re new or used. You can also stay up to date on the latest EV news by following the Green Vehicles section on the Automotiveng Blog. And when you’re ready to buy an electric vehicle, you can use Automotiveng to shop and get an up-front, personalized offer from a Certified Dealer.