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Five Considerations Before You Buy an Electric Car

Electric cars have become extremely fashionable. If you’re considering buying a new car, you’re likely wondering if you should buy an electric car. I was in your shoes a year ago, and I happily became an electric car owner. In my humble opinion, there are good reasons to go electric.

It’s always good to do some research before you make a big purchase. So, if you’re considering buying an electric car, Jason Fenske at Engineering Explained has put together this video to help you understand some of the merits of switching to an electric car. 

Five things to consider when you buy an electric car

1) What are the costs?

There are a lot of ways to evaluate the costs of driving an electric vehicle. First and foremost, you should be aware that an electric car is likely going to be more expensive than a conventional gas-powered car.

Because the entry price will be higher, the best way to evaluate the financial benefits of an electric car is in the total cost of ownership. To understand the total costs of ownership, you should evaluate the costs surrounding maintenance and increases in your electricity bill. Additionally, you’ll want to understand if there are any differences in car insurance for an electric car.

It’s also important to be aware of the rate of depreciation of the electric vehicle you may be considering. Another important evaluation would be the type of eclectic car, hybrid, plug-in electric, or fully electric, each has advantages from a use and cost perspective.

The video does a great job of breaking down these benefits and provides you with the most practical way of evaluating your prospective purchase.

2) Is electric car ownership convenient?

In many ways, the convenience argument will venture into the practicality of charging your vehicle. However, the convenience argument and how it plays into “range anxiety” is really an entirely different animal.

For many electric car owners charging is done at home, and it’s extremely convenient. It’s wonderful to come out to your vehicle every day and know you have a full tank (or range). Frequently, with gas-powered cars, you have to stop at the gas station before you head out to your destination. While easy enough, it can be a bit frustrating knowing you have to make a stop before proceeding to your destination. For this reason, an electric vehicle used exclusively for local transportation is vastly more convenient.

If you can’t charge your electric car from home, then it will be a bit more frustrating. Stopping at a charger is a dedication of time well beyond the time spent filling a tank of gas. The good news, charging facilities are becoming more ubiquitous on the highway, and if you purchase a Tesla it’s already rather extensive.

What about long trips?

One of the biggest arguments against electric cars is that they aren’t convenient for longer trips. However, there are very few trips you can plan where you couldn’t get to your destination in an electric car. The charging networks are sufficient for nearly all trips. Would it be easier in a gas-powered car, sure? Gasoline fueling stations are distributed with greater density throughout the United States, and the fuel-up times are quicker. Additionally, gas cars get a more consistent ranger for a gallon of fuel compared to a kilowatt hour of an electric car as the latter will fluctuate more based on outside temperatures and driving habits. The long and short of it is that electric cars are extremely convenient for local use, and gas cars have a slight advantage on the typical road longer trips … and an extreme advantage on exploratory or adventurous road trips.

3) Will you be able to charge your electric vehicle?

There are different ways to charge your electric car. Tesla owners simply use the Gen 2 charging cable that comes with the vehicle and a NEMA 5-15 wall plug to charge in the evenings. This will provide an estimated 30 miles per charging hour, and can charge the car to full range in the evening … typically while power rates are “off-peak.” There are similar solutions for other makes and models of electric vehicle, making home charging easy and cost-effective. There are also networks of chargers available if you need to charge away from home.

4) What is it like to drive an electric car?

Driving an electric car does have qualities that make it very different from a gas-powered car. First, and most noticeable are the noise and vibration. Electric cars are extremely smooth, have very few moving parts, and run relatively silently.

Electric cars also deliver a lot of low-end torque, making early exploration extremely fun! Another consideration is that electric cars have a very low center of gravity because the battery packs are placed below the driver’s compartment, making the vehicle feel very planted when taking turns. Lastly, most electric cars weigh more than gas-powered cars, providing a bit more “luxurious” ride. So, while car enthusiasts make not like all the ways electric cars drive, your average consumer is going to find the ride both fun and well-planted on the road.

5) Is an electric car really good for the environment?

For some, reducing their carbon footprint is an important part of buying an electric car. However, for others, it’s not really a consideration at all. But if you are environmentally conscience, you can be confident that your choice to buy an electric car was a wise environmental choice. The video shows you ways to measure the impact of converting from gas to electric, and why it’s a much cleaner means of transportation. 

The bottom line

The choice to buy an electric car is not going to be for everyone, but it’s certainly a more viable alternative to gas-powered cars today than even 5 years ago. All the major car manufacturers have significant investments in their electric model platforms, and new and innovative car makers will be delivering fully electric products as early as late 2020. The network of charging facilities is constantly growing, making charging easier and expanding the travel range. Most importantly, battery technology is improving each year, and its range is being extended to match or exceed gas-powered cars.

So, if buying an electric vehicle is not for you today, it just may be in the very near future.

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