6 Considerations Before Buying An Electric Car


considerations-when-buying-an-electric-car

Electric cars are good for the environment, easy to use, and require less maintenance to drive. However, there are some things you should take into consideration before buying your first electric car. If you are considering purchasing an electric car of your own, it is important to be prepared. 

Electric cars have evolved and changed over the years, making them the perfect choice when you are ready to go car shopping. Let’s take some time to explore the important considerations you need to research before you purchase your own electric car. 

Things to Consider When Purchasing an Electric Car

Electric cars can be a lot of fun to drive and own, but before you run out and purchase one for your family, there are a few important things to consider.

Let’s go over 6 of the biggest considerations you should know before buying an electric car.

1. Electric Cars Take Longer to Fill Up

When it’s time to recharge the battery on your electric car, the charging time will take longer than a traditional gas fill-up in a non-electric car. Putting gas in your car usually only takes a few minutes. 

The time it takes an electric car to fully charge will depend on which make and model you use, but still takes significantly longer. 

  • Very new models, like the latest Tesla, can get a decent charge in 20 minutes
  • Older electric cars could take up to 8 hours for a complete charge, or longer depending on how much electricity you can actually provide them.

This is significantly longer than just filling up the tank and requires more planning on your part. You need to be well aware of how far the vehicle can drive between charges, where the charging stations are located, and make plans to charge before you get stranded. 

Chargers Themselves Also Influence the Charge Time

The type of charger you use will often determine how long it takes the car to charge. There are three main types of electric car chargers and each will provide a different level of power to the vehicle. The KW charger in the car can slow down or speed up the charging time too. 

The three main types of chargers for electric cars are:

  • Level 1: This is the slowest type of charger. It gives off 120-volts so it is similar to a regular plug-in found in your home. If you use this charger, your car will likely take all night to recharge completely. 
  • Level 2: This option is faster and can get your car ready to go by the time you finish work for the day. You will still need at least a few hours to do a complete charge. 
  • Level 3: This type of charger is the fastest. For most electric cars, it will provide a full charge within 15 minutes. Most homes will not have this kind of charger so you will need to find it at a public charging station. 

2. The Higher Costs of Your Electric Car

Another thing to consider is the cost of any electric car you want to consider. Most of these electric cars will fall under the price of $50,000, with many falling between $30,000 to $40,000. For a brand-new vehicle, this is not an outrageous price. 

However, the issue is that the used electric car market, while growing, pales in comparison to the used gas car market. This translates to higher prices on used electric cars of the same age and condition as gas ones.

You might just have to purchase a new electric vehicle to get your hands on one, depending on what you want and where you live. The $40,000 price tag is a little high for most people to work with, which can make them unaffordable to many who may want to get an electric car. 

The good news is that many electric cars, even with the higher price tag, do offer the federal electric vehicle tax credit. This tax credit is worth $7500, which makes purchasing one of these vehicles a little easier. A few automakers are reducing or phasing out this tax credit, but you can still find a few to offer this incentive. 

Here are some price comparisons:

  • VW ID.3: The standard range concept of this vehicle will cost a little over $29,000 without the rebates. 
  • Renault Zoe R110 XE40: This electric car costs about $32,310 for a new owner to enjoy. 
  • Skoda CITIGOe iV: This is the perfect vehicle for a family that needs some extra room while trying to be good for the environment. The cost of this electric car is a little less than $20,000. 
  • MINI Electric: If you enjoy many of the features of the MINI, then you will love this upgrade for only $32,416. 
  • Tesla Model S: This is a brand-new vehicle from Tesla for the 2020 year. The cost of this one can be up to $92,000, but there are other versions that are more affordable. 
  • Nissan Leaf: This more affordable option that provides the bells and whistles costs about $31,600 with basic features. 

If you are still interested in getting an electric car but feel worried about the high cost of purchasing one, it is a good idea to talk to a dealer. They may have special deals and incentives going on to provide you with a better price on your purchase. 

3. The Maintenance Your Electric Car

The long charging time of your electric car can be discouraging to someone looking to purchase this kind of vehicle. One thing you will like though is that maintaining an electric car is often easier than a traditional vehicle. 

Electric cars often have less maintenance than traditional cars. This is due to the fact that there are fewer parts, so the owner has less to take care of. Plus, the engine in this car will last longer between regular maintenance compared to a traditional car. 

The biggest thing to watch for in your electric car is the battery. If you purchase the electric car brand new, the battery will last for a long time. You still need to pay attention to how the battery is doing and how well it holds a charge. The battery will start losing charging power, but the rate it does this will depend on the type of car. For example:

  • The Nissan Leaf will reportedly start losing charging power at 80,000 miles
  • The Tesla Model S will reportedly start losing charging power around 125,000 miles

This does not mean the battery will stop working! It simply means that the battery will not be as good as new once you hit these mileages. You may need to charge the car more often or be able to go less time in between charges as the battery gets older. 

Related article: Do Electric Cars Lose Range Over Time? Here is the Data

If you do not put a warranty on the battery, then replacing it can get expensive. Most electric car batteries run around $7500. The good news is that most companies will offer warranties for up to ten years on the battery after you purchase the vehicle. 

Outside of the cost of a battery replacement, which you should not need that often, maintaining your electric vehicle should be easier than a gas vehicle. This makes it a good choice for those who want a reliable car that will not sit in the shop getting repaired all the time. Keep the charge going strong and the car will get you from point A to point B without issues. 

4. The Driving Range of Your Electric Car

Before purchasing an electric car, it is important to consider how far it can drive between charges. Electric cars are not able to drive as far as a traditional gas car, although Tesla is quickly making strides to shorten that difference. 

Here’s estimated ranges of some of the most common electric cars:

  • The Tesla Model S: This vehicle can do up to 270 miles depending on the type of driving. 
  • The Nissan Leaf: This electric car can do up to 107 miles. 
  • The Chevy Spark: This electric car can do up to 82 miles. 

Keep in mind that these distances are based on a single charge to the vehicle. In comparison to traditional gas cars that can often do more than 300 miles on a tank of gas, and some of the more fuel efficient options, including the 2016 Honda Accord, being able to get up to 640 miles to a tank, this is a big difference to consider. 

For those who only plan to drive the car to work and around on a few errands, the driving range is not that big of a deal. You can simply plug the car in at night, or even at a public charging station at work, and it is ready to go. For those who want to travel further, an electric car may not provide the kind of range you want. 

Driving Conditions Affect Range Performance

The type of driving conditions you encounter while using an electric car will make a difference too. 

Some things that will affect the range of your electric car:

  • Cold weather: While all car batteries suffer in the winter, your electric car battery will suffer more than others. The range of an electric car battery will decrease 57% when temperatures reach 20 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Windy weather: the wind can push against your electric car, making it harder to maintain the range you want. 
  • Driving in-town or on the highway: since you need to start and go often in town, the range is often shorter than on the highway. 

If you experience any of these conditions and are worried about being stranded, it is a good idea to purchase a tool known as a range extender. In emergencies, you can use this tool to add up to 30 miles to your range. This is enough to help get somewhere safe to recharge your battery. 

Regular charging of your electric car is important to avoid charging frustrations. Keep the battery at full charge all the time. You never know when you may get stuck in a traffic jam or can’t make it to a public charging station. Keeping the battery charged fully can help prevent the need for a range extender later. 

Related article: Are Electric Cars Really Green? A Scientific Look

5. Where Will You Charge the Car?

It is important to think about where you can charge your electric car before the battery runs out. The plan you make will depend on how much you drive the car and how far you need to drive. Owners who drive the electric car more often and further distances will need to plan regular stops to recharge the battery. 

Home charging is often the most convenient charging option, though getting the hookup ready can be expensive. Once in place though, this home charging station can help you recharge the car while you sit comfortably in your own home. 

Before you install one in your home, consider these questions:

  • Can you charge your electric car while at work?
  • Is it easy for you to find electric car chargers in your area?
  • How often do you plan to drive your car?
  • How expensive charging at home is compared to using a public charging station. 

If you do choose to charge the car at home, you can easily use a 120-volt outlet already found in your home. This is a slow charge, but you can plug the car in right when you get home and it will be ready in the morning. There is also the possibility to upgrade your system to 240-volts, but this takes more time and money. 

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6. The Resale Value of Any Electric Car

The resale value is an important consideration because electric cars are often more difficult to resell down the line. This makes the process of selling the car when you are done with it, or when you want an upgrade, more difficult. 

You have to consider how easy it is to resell (many car buyers still want to stick with traditional vehicles), the depreciation value of the car, and the battery. 

Before you sell, check to see how long the battery has left. If you do find a buyer for the car, they will not like being stuck with a big bill to replace the battery if it is nearing the end of its useful life. 

The Benefits of Having an Electric Car

Now that we have taken a look at some of the considerations that come with choosing an electric car, it is time to take a quick look at the benefits. Knowing the benefits will help you make smart decisions when it is time to purchase a new vehicle. Some of the benefits of owning an electric car include:

  • The taxes: Many states provide a tax incentive to owners who decide to purchase an electric car. This helps you to save money. 
  • Fewer moving parts so you do not need to worry as much about a big repair bill, even if you own the car a long time. 
  • Electric cars are good for the environment!
  • Kiss gas bills goodbye. While electricity still costs money, it’s far less than even the lowest gas prices for an equivalent range.

The taxes and rebates, along with helping the environment, are big reasons why so many people like to purchase electric cars when they are in the market. They can earn a lot of the money on the purchase of the car back over time while driving around a great car. 

The Potential Negatives of Owning an Electric Car

There are a lot of reasons to choose an electric car to drive you around town. But there are also a few negatives, which is why not everyone has jumped right in and purchased an electric car right away. 

As you consider whether an electric car is a good idea for you or not, consider some of the negatives you may experience if you own an electric car:

  • The range is short, making it difficult to take a longer trip. 
  • The time to charge up the car is long. 
  • It is hard to go very far from home with an electric car. 
  • It is harder to resell this car if you need. You can do it, but there are fewer buyers for electric cars right now. 

Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Car

There are a lot of people who are gravitating towards purchasing an electric car for their families. They like how easy it is to use the vehicle, how good it is on the environment, and how nice these cars look and feel. 

Electric cars are a great upgrade, but you shouldn’t pull the trigger on moving to one without considering it fully first:

  • How much will you use it? How long will a charge last you?
  • Do you commute very long distances? Are there charging stations along the way?
  • Will you be able to resell the car in your area later on?

Once you know it’s for you, then go for a few test rides, and have fun!

Jordan Fromholz

I'm an electric car owner, enthusiast, and founder of the Plugin Report. As a Chemical Engineer with over 14-years in the energy industry, I've made my passions be renewable energy, batteries, and electric cars. My family lives on Maui where we drive our 2017 Nissan Leaf and share everything there is to know about electric cars.

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