There once was a time where electric vehicles on the road were just an impractical plaything for the wealthy who got early access to a Tesla. But actually, if you go back further, electricity was actually one of the options to run early developed automobiles before gasoline won out as the preferred technology. Despite having to wait well over a century to grab mainstream attention and acceptance, we’re finally at a time where seeing electric vehicles (EVs) in your neighborhood and chargers at your local store are rather commonplace.
You may find yourself wondering whether or not you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of EVs, as the 16% of Americans who say they are likely to buy an EV next time they go car shopping, and if so here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
How often am I driving long distances?
Range anxiety is one of the biggest deterrents to buying EVs. Customers may want to go green and drive more sustainably, but not knowing if you’ll be able to recharge when and where you need is a scary thought. So to see if an electric vehicle is compatible with your way of life, consider how often you’re driving long distances. EVs have a battery range that can go as low as less than 100 miles to greater than 300 miles, but even the high-end models with 300+ miles of range won’t necessarily be sufficient if you’re planning long road trips with any type of frequency. If you drive cross-state for holidays, like the option to pop into a car and drive hundreds of miles at a moment’s notice, or anything else, then you need to consider how purchasing an EV will impact that. If the EV is not your only vehicle and you can use the gasoline-powered car during longer trips (or even are willing to rent one), then it may not be an issue. But if you plan to only have an EV and you’re frequently driving a few hundred miles here and there then the need to stop and charge for 30-60 minutes in the middle of those trips may not be what you are willing to deal with.
Do my frequent destinations have chargers?
For shorter, more frequent trips, a great question to examine is whether your frequent destinations already have built-in publicly available chargers. For example, if you drive to work, does your parking lot or parking garage have an EV spot you can use? Similarly, do you have a frequent shopping center or restaurant you’d be driving to that has such chargers available? Having the ability to charge at these frequent destinations can minimize your day-to-day range anxiety and also maybe save you money if they are free to use. If you live in an area where chargers are already built out well, such as California, Hawaii, or Maryland, then integrating charging into your activities as you run around doing errands is not as big of a deal.
Is my garage outfitted with the right equipment for a home charger?
More often than not, though, your EV charging will take place at home. But not all EV charging is done the same. If you were to just plug into your basic outlet at home, an EV would take over 20 hours to completely recharge an empty battery. This would be using Level 1 Charging, but given that speed is sufficient for frequent drivers who will want their car to be fully charged in the morning when they’re ready to leave again, then that might not be enough. For those who need faster charging at home, they can consider installing a Level 2 Charger that can do the trick in just a handful of hours. The problem, though, is that installing a Level 2 Charger requires a 240V outlet, a separately purchased piece of equipment that will cost a few hundred dollars, and a professional to install it. The 240V outlet is the biggest issue, though, as not all garages or areas where you may envision parking your EV will have the wiring completed in such a way, particularly in older homes. So if you need that faster charging and you need to install a 240V outlet, that needs to factor into your consideration.
Can I afford it?
Lastly, a huge factor stopping many people from making the green and eco-friendly decision they want to with an electric vehicle purchase is the cost. While the prices have dropped dramatically since the early days of Tesla and made EVs more accessible to regular families, they are still certainly more expensive than their gasoline-powered counterparts when looking at sticker price. The important factor to consider, though, is lifetime price and costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it costs about half as much to drive an electric vehicle per mile thanks to the fact that electricity is cheaper than gasoline. Similarly, the costs for routine maintenance and repairs over the life of the EV is 25% lower than that of the gas-powered equivalent, making the lifetime costs again more accessible. So don’t just look at the sticker price and decide you can’t afford to make the energy-efficient and sustainable decision-- if you can front the costs to go electric, it very well may pay for itself in the end!