- More and more drivers are considering buying an electric car.
- Experts say potential buyers should think about where they’ll plug in and whether they’re eligible for any incentives.
- Aspiring EV owners should also consider their driving habits before taking the plunge.
You’ve set your sights on the perfect electric car. Maybe it’s a Tesla Model Y, or a Ford F-150 Lightning, or a Porsche Taycan. You’ve heard that electric vehicles are fast, fun, and environmentally friendly, and you wonder whether to ditch fossil fuels for good.
Join the club: Amid high gas prices and more battery-powered choices than ever, a record number of Americans are considering buying an electric car. In a recent Consumer Reports survey, 71% of Americans expressed some interest in going electric.
But taking the plunge is not such a simple decision. From where you’ll charge to how much range you need, there’s a lot to consider when trading in your gas guzzler for an EV, according to car buying experts.
Home charging is your best option
The first thing people should consider before going electric is where they’re going to plug in, experts told Insider. Although public charging stations are becoming more common, the most practical approach is to charge at home, allowing owners to wake up each morning with a fully charged battery.
“Yes, there is public charging. But when you’re talking about everyday use of this vehicle, you want to make it easy for yourself,” said Jennifer Newman, editor of the car buying website. Cars.com, said.
Charging at home is also cheaper, said Consumer Reports automotive journalist Benjamin Preston.
This means electric vehicles are best suited for drivers who have off-street parking with nearby electricity access. Experts recommend installing Level 2 charging, which uses a high-voltage connection to boost charging speeds. A Level 2 charger can fully charge an electric vehicle in approximately 4 to 12 hours.
Using a regular household 110 volt outlet (known as Level 1), this can take days.
But installing home charging can be expensive
The cost and complexity of outfitting a Garage with a Level 2 Refill varies widely. If you already have a 240 volt outlet – the same type used for a clothes dryer – it can be as simple as plugging in the correct charge cord (which can range from free to several hundred dollars, depending on what’s included with your vehicle and the charging speed you desire.)
Things get more complicated and expensive if you need to upgrade an old electrical panel or extend a connection to a garage. Cars.com installed high-powered Level 2 chargers in six homes and reported costs ranging from around $1,700 to over $9,000. Newman recommends hiring a licensed electrician to keep projected costs under control.
But not everyone needs Level 2 charging to make owning an EV worthwhile.
“Level 1 charging can get you 30 to 50 miles a day while charging overnight, which is well within the range of what typical Americans drive,” said Chris Harto, policy analyst at Consumer Reports.
Consider your driving habits
Having enough range to get around is one of the biggest concerns for potential EV buyers. It even has a name: range anxiety.
Before making a purchase, Newman recommends buyers consider how they typically use their car, noting whether they drive every day and how far they drive it. After taking that inventory, buyers might be surprised to find that electric cars offer enough range for their needs, said Newman, who owns an electric vehicle herself.
Today’s mainstream electric cars offer between 150 and 350 miles of range. It’s up to you to decide what’s enough for your lifestyle, bearing in mind that charging on the go can be time-consuming and inconsistent, especially if you don’t own a Tesla and can’t benefit of the company’s extensive charging network.
You may also want to consider how often you take longer trips that would drain your electric vehicle’s battery and investigate the availability of charging outlets along the route, Harto said. If you have more than one vehicle, an electric car wouldn’t need to work for all scenarios, he added.
“A used Nissan Leaf with an 80 mile range could be a perfect car for your teenager to drive to school, visit friends, etc. It could be a great second or third car in a family” , Harto said. .
Electric vehicles aren’t cheap, but tax credits can save you money
Tax credits and rebates for electric vehicle buyers offered by your locality, state or federal government can go a long way to making plug-in vehicles more affordable. The Consumer Reports survey found that nearly half of Americans are unaware of incentives to purchase electric vehicles.
The most well-known program is the federal government’s $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles purchased from most automakers (which may be revised soon), but buyers should do their homework and find out if they are eligible for other incentives, experts said. Utility companies can offer a credit for installing a home charger or preferential electricity rates for charging, Harto said.
Along the same lines, studies show that owners of electric vehicles spend less on fuel and repairs than people who drive gas-powered vehicles. Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than gas-powered cars and often require less maintenance. Electricity, especially when available at home, is generally cheaper than gasoline per mile driven.