You’ve likely heard about how electric vehicles (EVs) are the cars of the future. EVs have made headlines for their environmentally friendly zero-emissions contributions. Aside from the eco-benefits, is an EV right for you?
Like most big purchases, you likely want to know how much an electric vehicle will cost you. For a true idea about your expenses, you’ll consider several factors.
EVs are no different than other vehicles when it comes to price range. Newer vehicles are naturally more expensive, especially specialty brands with a bigger driving range and more features. For example, a new Tesla might approach or surpass six figures.
Many car brands, though, have increased their EV offerings for mass production. You could score some of these lines, like the Nissan LEAF or the Chevy Bolt, for around the price you’d pay for a traditional gas-powered new car. If you opt for a used model, you could even find deals in the low thousands for older lines that predate 2015.
EV drivers may be considered a higher risk for insurers, but this rule has more to do with the relative novelty of EVs than with the driver. As EVs become even more mainstream, this liability will likely fade away. As of 2021, though, EV drivers pay an estimated seven to 30 percent more monthly in insurance premiums than drivers of gasoline vehicles.
If you don’t plan on using your EV a great deal, you could explore pay-as-you-go insurance to lower prices. With this type, the insurer sets rates by how many miles you drive in addition to how responsibly you drive. These plans can make for a very affordable and cost-efficient option.
The good news is that the federal government, as well as many state and local governments, offer rebates as an incentive for consumers to buy electric. A federal non-refundable rebate on a newly purchased EV can run up to $7,500.
States are much more variable. While some offer incentives, others actually apply an annual surcharge for ownership of an EV. Depending on where you live, you can also check with your utility company; an ever-growing number are offering electric bill cost reductions for EV owners.
How does it feel to be behind the wheel of an electric vehicle? Some components, like the gear shift, may operate a little differently. In the Nissan LEAF, for example, the typical lever is replaced by a knob which is moved in certain directions to achieve forward or reverse. In a short time, drivers can quickly acclimate to these minor changes.
Once you’re on the road, you may find yourself falling in love with the smooth handling and quick, zippy acceleration an EV can provide. One of the very best parts is the lack of noise. You won’t endure any of the rumbling that comes with gas-powered cars. True peace and quiet are yours with every drive.
Arguably the biggest difference you’ll notice in your EV is the way its powered. Gasoline is replaced by electricity, so in most cases you’ll have to charge your ride in the same manner you would charge a phone or other product that relies on electric energy.
Most plug-in EVs come equipped with a standard charging cable that can be inserted into a garage outlet or any other typical 120-volt household outlet. This most basic type of charging is known as Level 1. If you upgrade to what is known as Level 2 charging, you will benefit from a faster charging time with a 240-volt outlet. This type of charging is available at many public charging stations. Modern fast-charging stations have also become more prominent as EV usage increases.
One of the key distinctions between these charging levels is the time you will need to fully power up your vehicle. A Level 1 charger will take the most time, from six hours up to 15-plus hours depending on the quality and age of the battery. For Level 2 charging, you can cut the time needed to achieve a full charge in half, if not more.
Fast turbo-chargers such as those popularized by Tesla can get the job done in as little as 20 or 30 minutes. Using this latter type of charging frequently is discouraged because it can over-heat and drain the life span of your battery with over-use.
You should also keep in mind the price tag associated with your preferred charging style. If you would like a Level 2 charging station installed in your home, you will probably need the assistance of an electrician to verify that your home is suitable for this upgrade. If you receive the go-ahead, a charging station may cost several hundred dollars for installation and labor.
If you have access to a conveniently located 120-volt outlet where you can charge overnight, you might prefer to stick with a regular Level 1 charger. Taking advantage of lower electricity rates at night can cut down on your electric bill. Depending on your battery, you could fully charge your car for as little as five to seven dollars in electricity expenses.
For a rough estimate of the amount you’ll pay at a public charging station, first consider the type of charging you’ll be using. For Level 2 charging, rates can run roughly three or four cents per minute. If you’re using a fast charger, though, that rate’s going to climb to about eight or nine cents a minute.
When you’re thinking about charging an EV, you should know just how far a full charge will take you on the road. Again, depending on the age of the battery and the make and model of the car, the range can span from 50 miles to nearly 500 miles.
A frequent commuter, therefore, should consider a newer model with a guaranteed high-mileage range. In addition, factor in that a climate with long durations of extreme high or low temperatures can also wear on your battery and therefore diminish your range.
Over their lifespans, EVs can cost half as much to keep in working order as gas-powered vehicles. How do you ensure your EV is a well-maintained investment?
Your battery is the life-blood of your EV. Many manufacturers now offer warranties that will cover the battery for around eight years or 100,000 miles. The expected life-span of EV batteries, however, can run around double this number. If you do eventually need a replacement battery, expect to pay several thousand dollars.
At Your Service
While you will avoid some of the typical maintenance issues with an EV (like oil changes), you will still need to keep a service schedule for aspects such as tire rotations and brakes inspections.
If you have a car under warranty, you can simply stop by your dealership for maintenance and repairs. For different options, you can inquire with garages about their ability to work on EVs. You may also seek out an EV specialist via the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance’s nationwide directory.
Whether you’re a cost-cutter or an eco-warrior, given the right circumstances EV ownership just may electrify your auto buying experience.