Affordable Sustainability 9 of 12-All You Need to Know About Electric Vehicles

With prices still rising on just about everything, and the cost of fuel stubbornly refusing to budge, electric vehicles (EVs) are more popular than ever. The idea of never having to pay for gas again is awfully tempting to the average cash-strapped American, but those cars don’t come cheap! 

Of course, in addition to the anticipated savings on fuel, EVs offer their owners a clean, emissions-free ride. 

Let’s take a closer look at EVs, their initial and ongoing costs, and factors to consider before springing for this expensive, but environmentally friendly, car. 

How much do EVs cost? 

EVs come in a wide range of prices, with the Chevy Bolt starting at just $26,500 and BMW’s M60 xDrive, arriving this fall, going for a whopping $85,095. Prices on EVs are based on their range, or how far they can drive on a single battery charge, as well as their durability, performance, styling and size. In general, as with most cars, you get what you pay for and the more expensive EVs will last longer and perform better than their cheaper counterparts. 

Many EV owners have taken advantage of government incentives to help cover the cost of their vehicle. With a chunk of the price covered by Uncle Sam, the EV becomes much more affordable. Plus, many states also offer their own tax credits, rebates, reduced registration fees and access to carpool lanes. 

In addition, many corporations and businesses are promoting EV adoption by incorporating electric vehicles into their fleets. This not only showcases their commitment to sustainability but also encourages consumers to follow suit.

Finally, there’s good news coming for EV pricing. Manufacturers are bringing down their prices as battery technology improves. Prices on Tesla and Ford, for instance, have already dropped in 2023, and more models are expected to get cheaper with time. 

Electric vehicle maintenance

In general, EVs have a lower maintenance cost than their gas-powered cousins. According to Consumer Reports, an owner of an EV can expect to save more than $6,000, on average, over the lifespan of the car relative to a traditional vehicle. Lots of common maintenance issues for cars, such as replacing or repairing spark plugs, transistors and oil, are irrelevant to EVs. This translates into easier and less expensive maintenance for electric vehicles across the board. 

Electricity costs

While one of the primary draws of EVs is the monthly savings on fuel costs, keeping your EV running will not be completely free. You’ll need to pay for the electricity it costs to run your car, and with prices rising on all commodities – energy included – it can cost a pretty penny. It’s hard to put an exact price tag on charging an EV, though, as energy costs will vary by state and are always fluctuating. However, it’s good to make note of these cost-saving energy measures:

  • Charging your EV overnight or on the weekend will cost you less than charging it during weekday afternoons and/or evenings. 
  • Some utility companies offer special plans for EV owners. It’s worth a call to find out if there are any savings available to you before buying an EV.
  • It’s best not to charge your battery to 100% unless absolutely necessary (such as before a long trip with few charging stations along the way), as this can degrade the battery and cause a negative charge.

Will I qualify for a tax incentive for my electric vehicle?

The government incentive of $7,500 for EVs has prompted thousands of buyers across the country to make the leap toward electric-powered cars. But the good times are running out and many car models are no longer eligible for the full federal incentive. To see if your chosen car makes the cut, check out the IRS’s most recently updated list of vehicles that qualify for the incentive program. Expect this list to grow shorter as strict criteria for manufacturers, including a supply chain based in North America, makes it difficult for car makers to keep their vehicles on the coveted list. 

Another way to check tax credit eligibility for a specific car is by looking up the vehicle’s identification number (VIN) on the Energy Department’s website

Before ruling out a tax incentive, be sure to check for any additional cuts or rebates from your state government. Lots of states are offering their own incentives for going electric, and it’s best to do your research before paying for an EV to ensure you’re getting all the credits and rebates you possibly can. 

Is it a good time to buy an electric vehicle?

The jury is out on this one, as consumers are eager to start saving on fuel costs, but sky-high prices on EVs drive them back to traditional car sales. The promise of newer, more updated EVs is also keeping buyers waiting for something better. Finally, energy is at a record high now, so keeping an EV running now won’t be cheap. There’s no telling where the market will go, though, so it’s anyone’s guess if prices will really fall enough to justify a wait. 

Electric vehicles are growing increasingly popular as consumers seek creative ways to balance their budgets during times of sky-high prices. Use this guide to make an informed decision that may benefit your wallet, and the environment, too. 

TikTok Inspo: Should you buy an electric vehicle now? Share your take in a short video.

Should I Buy an Electric Car?

Q: With gas prices soaring and expected to continue climbing into the foreseeable future, I’m wondering if this is a good time to consider purchasing an electric car. Should I buy an electric vehicle now?

A: Thousands of drivers are grappling with this question as gas prices peak. While an electric vehicle (EV) might be the right choice for many, there are lots of variables to consider before making this decision. Here’s what to know about electric cars before going this route:

What are some pros of owning an electric car?

The most obvious and prominent advantage of owning an electric vehicle is saving on fuel costs. Driving a car that runs on electricity instead of gasoline means saving money on a large expense category of your budget, month after month. Of course, the higher the cost of gas, the more you save. Right now, with most drivers experiencing pain at the pump, going electric is more popular than ever. Another budgeting bonus to consider is the fact that electricity costs tend to be far more stable than gasoline prices..

Another well-known advantage of driving an electric-powered car is the environmental benefits. Lower fuel emissions means a smaller carbon footprint on the environment, which is always a good thing.

Yet another advantage to EVs is their superior efficiency. EVs can convert more than 77% of their electric energy to power their wheels. In contrast, gas-powered cars can only convert 12-30% of the fuel stored in their gas tanks into driving power. 

What are some disadvantages of owning an electric vehicle?

There are several disadvantages to owning an EV to be aware of before making a purchase.

First, it’s important to note that the battery of every EV may need replacement sometime down the line. Federal regulations require automakers to cover the battery of their vehicles for a minimum of eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Some automakers also cover battery degradation, which is when a full charge powers fewer miles than it should. However, if the battery dies after the warranty expires, the cost of replacing it, which can run from $5,000 and $16,000, will need to be covered by the owner. The good news is that, as EVs become increasingly more popular, they are also becoming less expensive to manufacture and the prices of their parts are decreasing as well. In addition, automakers are working to manufacture EVs with batteries that last longer than most drivers will own the vehicle. 

Another disadvantage to owning an EV is being limited in the number of miles you can drive before you will need to recharge your vehicle. The number of miles you can drive on a full charge, also known as the vehicle’s range, will vary with each car. Most EVs will average 250 miles of range. While this will cover most people’s daily commute, road-tripping in an EV will take some planning. Luckily, as electric cars become more commonplace, finding a charging station on a major highway is becoming a non-issue. However, if you plan to take many road trips with your EV, you may want to purchase a car that is capable of fast charging so you don’t have to spend hours at a charging station every few hundred miles on your trips. 

Can I charge my electric vehicle at home? 

Yes, you can charge your EV at home. Plug it in at night, and it’ll be ready to go in the morning. How’s that for convenience? 

However, before ordering a Tesla, it’s good to be aware that the standard 110-volt wall outlet (Level 1 charging) is relatively slow, adding approximately four miles of range per hour. If you depleted a full 250 miles of range, it can take several days to fully recharge your vehicle. If you’ll be charging your car outside, be sure to verify your charging cord is designed for outdoor use. 

Most EV owners hire an electrician to install a 240-volt outlet in their garage. This allows for Level 2 charging, which can add 25 miles of range per charging hour. Be sure to get a reliable quote to know the cost of such work. 

How much does electricity cost?

Electricity, though much cheaper than gas, typically isn’t free. The exact price will vary by state, so check how much electricity will cost in your own home state before purchasing an EV. 

To save more on charging your EV, consider these points: Charging an EV at home is typically less expensive than charging it at a public charging station – unless, of course, you find one of those rare cost-free public charging stations. In addition, charging your EV overnight, or on the weekend will cost less than charging it at peak times, such as weekday afternoons and evenings. You may want to reach out to your utility company to learn exactly what it’ll cost you to charge your vehicle. Some companies offer special plans for EV owners, so be sure to inquire about that as well. 

What kind of maintenance will my electric vehicle need?

A big bonus of owning an EV is having lower maintenance costs. Electric motors have fewer moving parts than gasoline engines. This makes EVs far easier to maintain than their gas-powered counterparts. In addition, many car parts, which generally need replacing after a while – like spark plugs, filters and oil – are irrelevant to EVs. This means fewer trips to the mechanic and significantly lower maintenance costs. 

How much will an electric vehicle cost?

All the convenience and long-term savings of an EV comes at a high price, and most of them have a higher starting cost than gas-powered cars. Of course, there’s a large range, starting with the Nissan Leaf at just $27,400 and going all the way up to the Tesla Model 3 at $58,990.

Fortunately, there are many government-sponsored incentives for purchasing an electric car. These incentives are offered on the federal, state and local government levels, so be sure to see what’s available before completing your purchase. It’s important to note, though, that many of these incentives are not open to every buyer and every kind of EV. For example, the most well-known incentive, the Federal Qualified PEV Tax Credit, which offers up to $7,500 off the MSRP of qualified EVs, is only available for the first 100,000 EVs an automaker manufacturers and is no longer available for the purchase of any Teslas. 

Your Turn: Have you recently purchased an electric car, or made the decision to hold onto your gasoline-powered vehicle? Tell us what drove your decision in the comments.