Should You Buy an Electric Car?
Jan 09, 2024 01:00
Electric cars have been around for a while, but they're still considered to be a novelty. Some people claim electric cars aren't as useful and convenient as gas-powered vehicles. But others say that electric cars solve many problems associated with gasoline-powered ones: damage to the environment, high gas bills, and lack of access to fueling stations. So which is it?
Is an Electric Car Right for You?
Electric cars have been around since the 19th century, and until recently were considered a novelty. But now more and more people are switching to them as environmental problems with gas-powered vehicles become clearer. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are three types of electric vehicles (EVs): full-electric (also called battery-electric), plug-in hybrid electric, and fuel cell.
There are both benefits and possible drawbacks to buying an electric car instead of a gas powered one. To help you decide whether or not to buy one, let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of owning an electric car.
- Electric cars save you money on gasoline/petrol . If your current vehicle gets good mileage, switching to an electric car would significantly reduce how much you spend on gas each month. You'll also have fewer trips to the pump since they require less refueling than gas powered automobiles.
- They're cheaper initially . Compared with new automobiles, electric cars are less expensive. However, because of their high level of performance and quality parts, they tend to lose value more slowly than gasoline powered vehicles. Furthermore, if you live in a state where local or federal tax incentives are offered for buying an electric car, the price is lowered even further.
- They're better for the environment . Gasoline-powered automobiles emit carbon dioxide and toxic chemicals into the air that cause pollution and health problems. Electricity produces zero emissions when it's used to drive a battery-operated vehicle. Thus using an electric car significantly reduces greenhouse gases and other pollutants compared with petrol/gasoline-powered cars.
- EVs can be charged anywhere there's electricity . You do not need to find a gas station since electric cars can be charged from home or at public charging stations. This is especially beneficial for people who live in rural areas where there are fewer fueling stations to begin with.
- Electric car prices are dropping . As demand for electric cars rises, production costs will come down. So wait a little while before making your purchase and you might find that the model you want has become more affordable due to economies of scale.
- You can "fuel" up quickly . If you run out of power, all you need to do is charge your vehicle using an EV charger, which takes approximately 4-8 hours depending on the size/model/battery type of the automobile. Alternatively, you can any standard electrical socket if your car is a plug-in hybrid.
- They're fun to drive . Electric cars can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just over six seconds and recharge batteries while you drive using regenerative braking, which captures energy that would otherwise be lost through heat when the brakes are applied. This makes them more responsive than traditional vehicles that lose power during acceleration and don't recover energy when they slow down or brake.
- You can get tax credits for buying an electric car . The federal government allows residents to deduct 30 percent of the cost of an all-electric vehicle and 25 percent for plug-in hybrids on their taxes (provided your total eligible deduction does not exceed $7,500). Many state and local governments also offer incentives such as tax credits, property tax exemption, and free parking.
- They're fun to drive (again)! EVs look different than traditional cars in that they don't have gas caps or exhaust pipes. You can even get them with special features like the "Pillow of Air" which makes it feel like you're floating when you push on the accelerator because electric cars are much lighter due to the materials used in their manufacture.
- Electric car batteries take a long time to charge . The amount of time needed for an electrical recharge is similar to that required by a cell phone battery these days, but you do need to consider the electricity rates in your area. Charging at home takes about six hours while using a standard electrical socket is reduced to about four hours.
- Charging time may be reduced in the future . Tesla, for example, is developing an improved battery that can go from 0-80 percent in just 30 minutes and they're expected to sell it within the next couple of years. Other innovations are being developed too, so look out for shorter recharge times in new vehicles around 2017.
- Batteries are expensive . An electric car will cost more than a traditional vehicle because you also have to pay for batteries when you make your purchase. You can expect to spend between $10,000-$15,000 on equipment if you choose a plug-in hybrid model while all-electric cars with larger batteries tend to start at around $30,000.
- You still need to buy gasoline . While driving an electric car is better for the environment than using a traditional vehicle, you should not stop trying to reduce your use of non-renewable energy sources such as gasoline. The goal should be to eventually move away from this type of fuel entirely and embrace renewables like solar and wind power instead.
- Electric car technology is new . While that sounds positive in some ways because there's potential for improvement, it also means that scientists are continuing to find ways to make the process cheaper, more efficient, and produce batteries with higher capacity at a faster rate than before. For now, only purchase a low range model if you live in rural area because these types of vehicles are more useful if you don't have access to a quick recharge.
- Electric car batteries cannot be reprogrammed . For example, your car's battery will eventually lose its ability to hold as much of a charge due to the fact that it is made up of organic cells rather than metals. As with any lithium-ion cell , this process will occur over time and you won't necessarily know what condition the battery is in until it stops working altogether.
- You need to stay on top of maintenance . Unlike traditional vehicles which do not require any special treatment or care, electric cars need regular servicing because the manufacturer has limited control over how owners take care of their equipment (you can learn more here ). This means you must maintain the battery, cooling system, drivetrain , and running gear regularly or you risk damaging these components.
- You can't take an electric car on long trips . Because of the above-mentioned limitations, most manufacturers only allow their electric cars on short errands which means no road trips unless you plan on stopping frequently to recharge along the way ( Tesla's new model isn't available yet but it will be able to make longer drives ). If you like to travel on a whim rather than setting out with a predetermined destination in mind, this type of vehicle might not be for you.
- Limited availability . In many countries around the world, there are fewer choices when it comes to buying an all-electric vehicle from a dealer because they haven't experienced as much demand. You may have to order a new model online or inquire about used cars instead which requires some patience on your part.
- Electric car manufacturers are not always reliable . For example, the Fisker Karma has been called one of the worst electric cars ever made due to various problems including brake failure, loss of power while driving, and non-working electronics (you can learn more here ). Tesla fell into financial trouble during 2012 because they were using their customers' deposits to pay bills rather than funding vehicle development as promised so this company is also something to watch.
- Driving range is limited . Much like gasoline engines , all electric cars have a maximum distance they can travel needing a recharge which varies from 175 miles to 300 miles on the high end. If you live in a rural area and don't need to drive far, this might not be an issue but if you commute daily or like long road trips then it definitely will be.
- Limited product selection . There are still only a handful of electric cars which limits your choice in terms of vehicle design and manufacturer support. In addition, prices will likely stay higher for longer because the process hasn't been perfected yet so these types of vehicles are much more expensive than gas-powered equivalents up front. Some companies have managed to offer short loan periods without interest when you purchase a car in order to lower monthly expenses but that's a program that probably won't appeal to everyone who's considering buying in this segment.
- Electric car manufacturers can go out of business . Even though you may be promised a certain level of service and support if you buy an electric car, the manufacturer could close their doors in the future due to financial issues or poor sales leading to lack of spare parts or troubleshooting advice (you can learn more here ). This is why it's important to research what happens when things go wrong before making a purchase so your vehicle doesn't become unusable down the line.
- Limited vehicle selection . There aren't many models offered by major manufactures for this type of vehicle which means you'll have less choice when it comes time to replace your current ride with another one that fits your budget and needs (see no. 12 above).
- Electric cars are loud . Because there's no engine noise in electric cars, manufacturers tend to add artificial sounds which can be startling for pedestrians and people who aren't used to the vehicle (you can learn more here ).
- Electric car servicing is different . If you try to take your all-electric vehicle into a traditional mechanic who isn't familiar with the technology or its maintenance requirements, they might send you away because they won't know how to fix whatever problem it has (you can choose an all-inclusive service center if you buy one of these types of vehicles). So this means you'll need to do some research ahead of time in order to find reliable technicians in your area before making a purchase.
- The batteries are expensive to replace . Because electric cars use rechargeable batteries, you'll need to pay for this type of maintenance every few years or so which can cost up to $5,000 depending on the make and model (you can learn more here ).
- Electric cars take a long time to charge . Unless your vehicle includes an onboard charger, it will likely require several hours at 240 Volts in order to power up so this is something else you'll have to think about when purchasing one of these types. Keep in mind that higher-end models typically include chargers with faster capabilities than cheaper ones but the process is still inconvenient overall.
- The electricity used comes from dirty sources . Even though most countries around the world are trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions , most electricity is still generated in dirty ways so this limits electric car owners to using "dirty" energy when powering up.
- Electric cars are limited by distance . This is another issue with current technology because even though electric vehicle designers are looking into new battery types (such as lithium-air ), it's unlikely that these will ever match the range of gasoline engines unless some major breakthroughs occur . So until then, all-electric vehicles will continue to be limited in terms of how far they can go without recharging leading consumers to view them as second cars rather than primary ones for extended family vacations or road trips.