Electric Car Pros & Cons: What To Consider Before Buying

DEC 12 2018 BY JIM GORZELANY 34

HERE’S A CHECKLIST OF WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO CONSIDER BEFORE SHOPPING FOR YOUR FIRST EV.

Automakers are ramping up their investments in electric vehicles both to help meet emissions and fuel economy rules and to prepare for future demand as battery range goes up and costs come down. Electrified rides are expected to account for around 30 million sales by 2030 and 50 million by 2040.

But in the meantime, the market segment is still uncharted territory to most consumers. Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need to consider before you go shopping for your first EV:

PRO: OPERATING COSTS ARE CHEAPER

Even with gasoline prices remaining affordable, it costs less money to run a car on electricity than gasoline. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it would cost an owner $1,200 a year to drive a gas-powered Ford Focus for 15,000 annual miles with fuel at $2.45 a gallon, but just $600 to cover the same distance in a battery-powered Focus Electric.

What’s more, an electric car generally costs less to maintain. Because they utilize an electric motor and a simple single-speed transmission, EVs eliminate over two-dozen mechanical components that would normally require regular service. Driving an electric car means being able to avoid oil changes, cooling system flushes, transmission servicing and replacing the air filter, spark plugs, and drive belts.

CON: NEW EVS ARE EXPENSIVE

Though prices are expected to drop significantly over time, you’ll still pay an up-front premium to own a vehicle that runs on electricity. For example, the Nissan Leaf is priced at nearly $31,000 to just over $37,000, depending on the trim level. The Chevrolet Bolt EV starts at nearly $37,500. By comparison, a comparable small gas-powered hatchback model like the Chevrolet Sonic is sticker priced at between $18,000 and $22,400, depending on the trim level.

PRO: INCENTIVES CAN MAKE EVS MORE AFFORDABLE

Most new EVs are eligible for a one-time federal tax credit of $7,500. (PHEVs are eligible for between $3,500 and $7,500, depending on the size of its battery.) That effectively drops the price of a Nissan Leaf to $23,500. Some states dole out added incentives that can sweeten the deal even further. Unfortunately the federal credits are not permanent, and are scheduled to phase out during the calendar year after an automaker sells 200,000 full electric and/or plug-in hybrid models.

Tesla has already reached that milestone, which means its federal tax credits are being phased out during 2019 and will be eliminated on December 31. General Motors is likewise hitting the 200,000-unit mark and will see its subsidies shrink over the course of 12 months beginning in 2019.

PRO: PRICES OF USED EVS ARE CHEAP

A boon for used-EV buyers but a bane for original owners, resale values are way below the norm because of a combination of factors, including limited demand and the $7,500 federal tax credit given to new EV buyers. What’s more, because of their inherent range limitations pre-owned electric cars tend to be driven fewer miles than the norm, which means they’ve typically endured less wear and tear.

CON: YOU MAY HAVE TROUBLE FINDING MANY USED EVS WHERE YOU LIVE

Having accounted for only a slim percentage of new-vehicle sales over the last few years, used EVs are not especially plentiful. Also, only a handful of models were sold in all 50 states when new, with many only offered in California (and perhaps one or more other states) to fulfill state regulations regarding zero-emissions vehicles. You’ll find them most plentiful on used-car lots in California, Georgia, Washington, New York, and Florida. And, of course, you’ll find them listed for sale here on MyEV.com.

PRO: SOME MODELS CAN RUN FOR MORE THAN 200 MILES ON A CHARGE

EV makers are leveraging the latest in battery technology to make them practical as both daily drivers and road-trip warriors. For example, the Tesla Model S can run for as many as 335 miles on a charge in its top model, with the smaller Model 3 able to reach 310 miles. The Chevrolet Bolt EV is rated to run for 238 miles, while the new EV version of the Hyundai Kona boasts an operating range of 258 miles. Tesla claims its 2020 Roadster will be able to go for 620 miles without needing a charge.

CON: ALL EVS ARE SUBJECT TO RANGE LIMITATIONS

No matter which EV you drive, you’ll still need to keep a watchful eye on the state-of-charge meter. An older EV might only be able to travel 75-100 miles before needing a charge, though that’s sufficient for to cover the average commute, which the U.S. Department of Transportation says is 15 miles each way.

Plus, an EV’s real-world range can be adversely affected by external factors. These include driving in extremely cold or hot weather. This is both because of the adverse effects of high and low temperatures on a battery’s charge, and the drain caused by operating the heater and air conditioning. Also, full-throttle acceleration, driving at higher speeds, and improper maintenance will also reduce an EV’s operating range.

PRO: EVS ARE QUICK AND QUIET

Unlike a gasoline engine, an electric motor produces 100% of its available torque instantly. Power reaches the wheels immediately for quick off-the-line launches and brisk passing abilities. And, without a throaty exhaust note, it all takes place with eerie silence, save for some wind and tire noise. The 2019 Jaguar i-Pace actually pipes in some faux engine sounds during spirited acceleration to add some aural excitement to the driving experience.

PRO: YOU’LL BE DRIVING A ZERO-EMISSIONS VEHICLE

Unlike gas and diesel-powered vehicles, EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions. That means they won’t spew smog-forming pollutants and greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter, formaldehyde, non-methane organic gases, and non-methane hydrocarbons into the atmosphere.

CON: DRIVING AN EV MAY NOT BE AS ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY AS YOU THINK

An EVs actual overall effect on the environment depends on the local sources of electricity. According to a report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), they tend to fare best in parts of California, New York, and the Pacific Northwest, where renewable energy resources are prevalent, and less so in central U.S. states like Colorado, Kansas and Missouri because of their greater dependence on fossil fuels to produce electricity. Still, the UCS determined that EVs are generally responsible for less pollution than conventional vehicles in every region of the U.S.

PRO: YOU’LL NEVER HAVE TO VISIT A GAS STATION

Most EVs are charged at home. You’ll avoid the weekly visit to the gas station and will perhaps even save a few extra dollars by avoiding impulse buys for snacks and lottery tickets. Depending on the power company, an owner may be able to qualify for discounted off-peak rates by charging his or her EV in the middle of the might. Fully charging an EV using standard (Level 1) house current can take as long as 24 hours, depending on the model. Spending a few hundred dollars to have a dedicated 240-volt line and a Level 2 charger installed in your garage can slash that time to as little as four hours. Some states offer financial assistance to install a home charging unit.

CON: PUBLIC CHARGING STATIONS ARE LIMITED

The infrastructure for EV public charging units is growing, but they’re still not as common around town as are gas stations. As of this writing there’s about 20,000 charging stations up and running in the U.S. and you’ll most usually find them at retail parking lots, public parking garages, and new-car dealerships in areas where EVs are most prevalent. Also, a number of companies have installed charging stations for their employees and some urban apartment buildings maintain them for their tenants’ use.

Level 2 is the most prevalent type of pubic charging, and it’s best for minor replenishments while running errands. A better alternative is to seek out a Level 3 charging station, also called DC Fast Charging, which can bring a given EV’s battery up to 80% of its capacity in around 30 minutes. Plotting a course and picking a destination that’s dotted with Level 3 chargers can enable an extended road trip in all but the shortest-range EVs.

PRO: DRIVING AN EV MAY GET YOU EXTRA PRIVILEGES

Depending on where you live, if you own an electric vehicle you may be able to drive in the carpool lane on the highway without having to carry additional riders. You might also be able to garner perks like free street-parking, and specially reserved spots in municipal and/or airport lots.

Check back frequently for the latest buying and ownership tutorials here on MYEV.com, your free online marketplace for buying and selling used electric vehicles.

Source: MYEV.com

 

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34 Comments on "Electric Car Pros & Cons: What To Consider Before Buying"

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If you live and work in a location where you cannot charge and no do not have reliable access to an ICE vehicle, you’re brave if you get an EV…

There’s still a lot of issues with public chargers that doesn’t neccessarily make it affordable…Many have hard limits of 30mins or 60mins complete with a mandatory connection fee with fees as high as $9.99 being reported…

Yeah, High connection fees are just a rip off. These might become a thing of the past once more and more CP’s get deployed. Then you would have an alternative place to charge.
I’m going to try to avoid paying any connection charges if possible.
The two CP’s near me that have a connection fee also have a parking fee to pay as well (they are in car parks outside shopping centres) yet three miles away there is a 50kW charger with no connection fee. Guess which one I’ll use…?

“If you live and work in a location where you cannot charge and no do not have reliable access to an ICE vehicle, you’re brave if you get an EV…”

Maybe expand on this. An area where you cannot charge? I suppose you are referring to an apartment building with no charging and a commute that is longer than 30 miles without a charger at work(even older EVs can handle this).

Other than those scenarios – anyone that owns or rents a house can charge their EV right?

People in urban areas with no off-street parking can in theory charge their EV using an extension cord, but it’s going to be difficult, possibly illegal (and likely to get objections from the neighbors), and I’m not sure L2 charging is possible that way.

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Definitely illegal, and in my development, no guarantee of parking location.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“connection fee with fees as high as $9.99 being reported…”

Not sure what this means. Is this charged as soon as you plug in or are you charged this when you are done charging but still plugged in?

If the later then that’s perfectly by design although I think it’s not enough. Should be $25.00 if your plugged in after you have fully charged and sitting there for 30 minutes. Then after the next 30 minutes add another $25.00 to the bill……lol

Good balanced article…. As far as the issue of ev’s being ‘polluting’ in the USA, for those who consider Coal Power “Dirty” or “Polluting”, it is currently down to 22% of electricity generation versus 37% world-wide.

So for those who are very concerned about it, Coal generation in the USA is really not much of an issue any longer.

As far as the Green-house-gasses (GHG) generated, again for those who are worried about it, it is interesting to compare what is happening in the WEST vs the EAST.

The WEST is trying to handle the problem with someone inefficient and costly Carbon-Capture, which in general doesn’t currently work very well, and decreases the efficiency.

The EAST is instead in general using Ultrasupercritical Coal Plants which up the efficiency from 32 to 44% or higher, and therefore decrease their GHG generation by simply using much less fuel.

It doesn’t change the picture a lot but according to EIA coal currently stands at 27% in US:
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/current_month/epm.pdf

It has been replaced largely by natural gas and some wind, standing at 40% and 6% respectively. 10 years ago the picture was flipped with coal close to 50% and NG and wind combined at some 30%. The rest of the sources have been pretty much stagnant (or too small to make a diff).
I don’t see CCS happening for economic reasons.

CON: EVS ARE QUICK AND QUIET
You will get more speeding tickets and run over more people and squirrels not paying attention.

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Do Not Read Between The Lines

Ironic sarcasm.

You missed the one piece which deals with Living with an EV. Summer Vs Winter Range for the area you live and work in! My soul EV+ has EPA rating of 93 miles average, but fluctuates from 70-120 miles depending on the season. Forget the “limited Range” thing which anyone considering an EV is already “Well Aware” of, but that EPA sticker showing Avg range has a truly broad swing on it. 50% of your range will be gone in the pit of winter! quantify folks quantify….

The big drop in winter range is likely the biggest con. How much it drops varies greatly depending on the climate where you live, but it always a factor.
Every Fall, message boards start sprouting topics like “I’m only charging to xx miles! Somethings wrong with my battery!”
“My battery only holds xx miles? Is something wrong?”
When engaging the public at events, this is ALWAYS a topic that we bring up. Too many people count on regularly getting 80-90% (or even more) of a cars rated range under all conditions (and speeds) when looking at a purchase or lease. That’s a guarantee for a pissed off adopter that quickly becomes a very vocal critic of EV’s.

Another Euro point of view

Also against such a purchase is the battery warranty. I just checked the Audi eTron battery warranty which is 8 years 160k miles, not bad but then they tolerate 30% loss in capacity. Range is already an issue when 100% capacity so at 70% capacity in cold weather it would just have a ridiculous range for such and expensive car.

Yes, exactly. Yet someone wrote above that it is a balanced article. if it helps, my Clarity FCEV is als seeing reduced range in mild California weather, down to 310 from 350 in summer, even when AC used to run all the time in summer. But it is alogn range, so it’s not such a big deal and refueling is 5 minutes. “PRO: PRICES OF USED EVS ARE CHEAP” : How is tis a pro for new EV nbuyers? After 4 year, they will be staring at HUGE depreciation. Worse, expire of carpool stickers will make the EV worth even less. The loss of range due to age will be a triple whammy! Some other cons you forgot: * Slow recharge time on the go is a deal breaker for many for long distance driving. * If you don’t have charging at home, it can cost twice as much to charge compared to efficient hybrid. * Environmentally more polluting than a simple efficient hybrid. * The “million mile drive unit” is a mirage. * No thrid party independent repair shops. You are hostage to the dealers or worse, single manufactures who will not hesitate to slit your throat to make… Read more »
Do Not Read Between The Lines

Hahahahahaha.

Cool!

it would cost an owner $1,200 a year to drive a gas-powered Ford Focus for 15,000 annual miles with fuel at $2.45 a gallon, but just $600 to cover the same distance in a battery-powered Focus Electric.

that means you save $600 a year, but only $400 a year if you drive only 10k a year.

$31,000 to just over $37,000, depending on the trim level. The Chevrolet Bolt EV starts at nearly $37,500. By comparison, a comparable small gas-powered hatchback model like the Chevrolet Sonic is sticker priced at between $18,000 and $22,400, depending on the trim level.

Lets go with the extremes, $37k for electric, and $22k for gas. Using annual savings, the electric car breaks even only after 25 years at 15k miles a year. It takes 37.5 years at 10k miles a year.

This is of course, back of the napkin math and there are variables like subsidies and what not.

Your electric cost may be high. You should get almost 4 miles per kwh so need 4,000 kwh to go 15,000 miles. The average rate is 11 cents or so about $440 not $600
Gas is pretty low right now so there is that.

Factor in the $7500 federal rebate, dealer lease incentives, local ev incentives, and the $3.50+ per gallon gas of some areas (like mine) and the breakeven point gets a lot more palatable. Not to mention “free” electricity from solar panels that 30% of EV owners have installed on their roofs. I mean it’s not as great of a deal as it will be in the future but it’s better than your math makes it sound for most people who do get EVs.

To be fair, a guy driving a brand new $50k Tesla around Houston TX with $1.89 per gallon gas and zero incentives beyond the Federal EV tax rebate (which is lost by the fiscally illiterate more than we like to talk about) is likely never going to see break-even, let alone ROI.

This article completely ignores the #1 consideration:

Can you install (or is there already) an EV charger for your personal use where you park your car at night? If not, can you at least get regular access to an EV charger at work?

If the answer to both of those questions is “no”, then you probably shouldn’t buy a plug-in EV. You have to be awfully dedicated to not burning any gas in your car to rely on public EV chargers for everyday charging.

Well, to be fair Tesla is starting to address these potential EV owners by installing more Superchargers in urban areas.
As usual Tesla leads in fostering EV adoption across many spectrums.

Musk has repeatedly stated the SuperChargers are only to be used for travelers and are not to be used by the locals.

I sort of agree. But if your daily drive is under 90km you can easily recharge overnight on a regular 110V outlet. I have for the past 40mo/100,000km. Nearby L2/L3 will eliminate any remaining range anxiety

@Pushy, I can’t believe I gave you a like. Now, let’s compae the cost to a similar sized hybrid.

Such is my situation.

The national building code currently requires all garages to have at least one luminary with a switch at the access door and at least one GFCI protected standard 120V outlet. While I know plenty of people who actually make that standard outlet work for EV ownership, a small change to the building code to add a 240V/50A outlet to that garage minimum will help with upcoming longer range EVs while adding very little additional cost to new construction.

We also need to add EVSE to all new commercial and multi-family codes as well. Many Public Utilities already have smart meters and “pay-as-you-go” systems in place that can be adapted with minimal effort to provide local shared charging options. Targeting lower income areas will help get some of the worst polluters traded in for used/short range EVs.

I really doubt anyone is going to go for this in any other than $million communities. Certainly not lower-income places. The problem is not just the 240/50 amp branch circuit – it is also what happens when a home has a calculated load of 40 kw and you force the homeowner to include the added 10 kw electric car load pushes the contractor to require over a 200 ampere service for a budget home – in this case things start getting quite expensive. Now, yes it can be done – but looks to me like this will only happen in places like California with 8% having electric cars. In other places builders will object that relatively few people buy them and therefore it is not necessary to actually have the circuit installed, and thereby drive up the cost of the main service. What seems likely (indeed – its the law in some places), is merely to have empty ducting installed to the car area such that the homeowner, should he choose to do so in the future, may install any size facility he cares to pay for at that time. Since that is the current law in many places –… Read more »

CON: You may need to spend a lot to manage to charge the EV at home.
Like in my case, where I can’t charge at home at all since I don’t have a garage and the utilities are shared. I rely on charging at work and driving my Volt on gas when I run out of electricity (about 1/3 of my miles are on gas because of that, could be near zero if I could afford a garage with a charging spot).

At current fuel prices, I’d be spending $25K where I live for a 30kw Leaf ex-Japan after cluster conversion and fitting a basic plug to our carport.

I’d be saving $250 a month on petrol but paying $30 more in power a month. I’m getting 39mpg from my current car and my second car is at the bottom of the depreciation curve so the cost savings just aren’t there. I would probably drive more if I had an EV, but it’s hard to justify the extra outlay on that basis.

Most people’s commutes are within 20, 30, 50 miles and the airport / train / inter city bus station is within 30 miles and an EV with 100 mile range will cover this distance easily. Hardly 10 times / year someone drives farther and they can use their 2nd car or rent a car.

1.7 million low speed EVs with 100 km / 62 mile range is sold in China last year. If they can, others can.

I keep thinking it would be cool to write a phone app that ICE car owners could use that would figure out EXACTLY what owning different models of EV’s would have been like for the last day/week/month/year.

Use the phone to gather driving patterns, acceleration, weather information from a weather app, travel distances, distances from chargers, etc. Have it calculate time spent at gas stations, time/distance taken to drive out of normal driving patterns just to go visit a gas station, and calculate how much time would have been required to charge at high speed chargers.

Then use publicly available electricity rates, charger fees, average gas prices for the area, etc to calculate each person’s own personal results.

The end result would be theoretical results for any year of any EV you can find on the EPA’s mpg/mpge website, where it would overlay fueleconomy.gov numbers personalized for you, telling you exactly how well that EV or PHEV would have done, and use the “find and compare” with gas cars.

I’m more of a con man, myself. I’ll wait for reasonably priced EV’s with solid-state batteries to hit the production line, thank you.

Another thing to remember…
If where you live is governed by a HOA (Home Owners Association) you may find that they won’t let you have a charging pedistal installed outside your unit, but would be willing to let you pay for having one installed at the Community Center, where anyone, resident or guest can use it. (True story)

Stop saying that EV tax credits make EVs more affordable – they do not. The credit is not taken off of the purchase price of the vehicle, it’s tied to a person’s tax liability. If a person owes no money to the government, they get none of that credit. If they do owe money, it offsets whatever money they do owe and while that is a good thing, it didn’t make the car anymore affordable since the money is not being taken off the balance owed on the car.