By Zack Hurst
FACT: There are affordable EV options for most people
MYTH: EVs are too expensive, and only for the rich
Until recent years, options were limited for buyers outside of CARB states to get a reasonably affordable EV. Luckily, this has changed! In 2020, many new EV models are offered for well less than $40,000, and great deals on used vehicles can also be found for less than $20,000... often less than $10,000. Do expensive EVs exist? Yes, of course! You can find expensive cars regardless of what happens to be under the hood. But there are many options for prospective EV buyers on a budget. So don't give up, there's an EV out there right now waiting for you!
FACT: EV batteries often last a decade or more
MYTH: EVs batteries die in less than 5 years
All batteries will degrade over time, and the Lithium-Ion batteries that are used in electric vehicles are certainly no exception to this rule. However EV batteries, unlike those in our phones, will often last 10yrs or more thanks to advanced battery management systems, active thermal management, and sophisticated computer software. EVs use these systems to protect the batteries from excessive heat or cold, and maintain an optimum state of charge. To this second point, because Li-ion batteries do not respond well to being charged or discharged to their extremes, EV manufacturers often reserve a percentage of the battery's storage capacity to act as a buffer. If this doesn't sway you to believe that EV batteries will really last as long as you would need them to, you might find comfort learning that most EVs come with a warranty on the batteries of up to 8yrs or 100,000 miles, with a few manufacturers offering longer warranties. Unless you are buying an older electric vehicle with the original battery still in place, you will most likely never give a second thought to the state of health of your EV battery and will enjoy many years of happy electric motoring.
FACT: EVs are some of the quickest cars on the road
MYTH: EVs are glorified golf carts
If you've ever ridden on a roller coaster or flown in a passenger jet during takeoff, you might have a small glimpse into what it's like to drive ,or be a passenger, in a Tesla Model S Performance w/Ludicrous mode. At it's best, the Model S will launch from 0-60mph in a blistering 2.28sec. A "glorified golf cart" this is not, and the Tesla isn't alone. Many EVs have the ability to push their passengers into the backs of their seats with a punch of the accelerator. An unlikely example, the Chevy Spark EV, in its first production year (2014), had more torque than a Ferrari 458 of the same year. The biggest names in performance automobiles have noticed. Porsche, McLaren, Ferrari, and others have electrified their high end cars to unleash peak performance on the road, and track. Of the top five quickest accelerating production vehicles, two are full electric and one is a hybrid (the fastest). Long gone are the days of EVs being made with the only purpose of fuel efficiency or commuting to and from the office or grocery store.
FACT: EVs are safe
MYTH: All EVs catch fire in a crash
If it's in the headline news, it must be true right? EVs catch on fire, sometimes spontaneously, or often after a wreck. They burn down the garage, and their batteries are extremely unstable. Well, not exactly. Have these things happened? Yes. Is this common? No, not even close. In fact, fires occur less often in EVs than their gasoline and diesel fueled counterparts. When a "normal" car catches on fire however, it doesn't make headlines. When all you hear is the negative about EVs, you're only receiving a very small piece of the total amount of information. The truth of the matter is that EVs are some of the safest cars on the road. They are less likely to catch fire and additionally are the safest vehicles on the road in crashes too. Just to name a few, the Audi e-tron, Hyundai Kona EV, and Tesla Model 3 all received the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2020. The fact of the matter is, if you want to be in a safe vehicle, you're definitely better off in an EV.
FACT: EVs ARE FUN!
MYTH: EVs are boring
I remember the first time I ever drove an EV, it was a Tesla Model S. I visited the dealership out of curiosity at these "new things." My life was forever changed. The ride was smooth and quiet. It wasn't the fastest version offered, but the acceleration was punchy when I wanted it and the car cornered like it was on rails due to the low center of gravity. About a year later, I test drove the Tesla Model 3 Performance... and my life wasn't changed, it was ruined. I never wanted to drive anything else. It was that experience that ultimately led to the purchase of my first electric car, a Chevy Spark EV. It's quick off the line, spunky, and responsive to input. Easily the most fun car I've ever owned. My experience is not unique. Talk to any EV owner and you are likely to hear a similar story about how they came to experience driving, and how their lives were changed. In addition to being fun to drive, EVs are also fun to own! With no engine and just a small amount of mechanical parts, the worries of maintenance and repair are far from thought, and that means that you can devote more of your mind to thinking about how much you love your car.
By Zack Hurst
If you're one of the millions of Americans that are thinking about an electric vehicle for your next car, there are some things you may want to consider before pulling the trigger on your purchase. We've put together a small checklist of factors to keep in mind before becoming a brand new EV owner.
1) Does it have enough range?
While most newer EVs have a range of 200 miles or more on a full charge, many of the older models will barely reach 100 miles of range on their best of days. This may be perfectly fine for you depending on your needs and how you will use your EV. Most daily commutes in the US are less than 40 miles and nearly every EV can handle that in any road or weather condition. Keep in mind that weather, air temperature, and how fast you drive are all variables that affect the range of an EV. You will want to make sure that you choose a car that will easily handle all of your regular daily activities. It's always a good idea to overestimate your needs and have range left over at the end of the day.
Most current EV owners charge their vehicles at home, overnight. However, there are a number of people who either don't want to charge at home, or are unable to do so. For these people, public chargers are the only option. For those who are able to charge at home, there are basically two options available to choose from: slow and slower. Now, that may sound inconvenient, but if you consider that you are usually charging overnight, it really is everything that you would ever usually need. Let's talk about slower charging first. Most EVs come with it the ability to charge from a 110/120 volt electrical socket. Using this method is convenient because you are rarely far from a wall outlet. However, this is also the slowest method of charging and might not give you a full battery in time to drive the next time you need to. It is for this reason that we recommend the "slow charging" or level 2, option. Using a 220/240 volt charger, most EVs will fully recharge their batteries overnight in just a few hours. Public chargers are also available in level 2 charging for when you are at a destination or while doing some other activity like shopping, dining, etc. Fast charging, or DCFC, is available in many areas to recharge your EV as quickly as possible, sometimes adding a hundred miles of range or more in as little as 10-15 min. DCFC speeds vary from charger to charger as well as from car to car, so if you are the type who wants to get back on the road as quickly as possible, keep this in mind when choosing your EV and ask about it's fast charging capabilities.
3) New or Used?
Just like with their fossil burning counterparts, new EVs can offer you many benefits over buying a used car. They will have the full manufacturers warranty, come with that new car smell, and be fresh right out of the box. However, some people take pause at the initial price tag. New EVs typically will cost around $30,000 on the low end and upwards of $200,000 for some of the luxury sports car models. EV Supercars and Hypercars will fetch millions (just like gas powered ones). Price is one area where buying used has its advantages. Depending on the model, many used EVs can be bought for less than $10k.
4) Cost of Ownership
Cost of ownership can easily be wrapped up into ongoing costs like maintenance, fueling, and insurance. This is one place where EVs excel over their gas and diesel powered rivals. Not only will you be spending a lot less to keep you car fueled with electrons, EVs require very little maintenance, and in some cases will even cost less to insure. However, not all EVs are built the same, require the same maintenance, or require the same insurance coverage. In order to be able to accurately calculate how much your EV will cost on a monthly basis, you have to account for how many miles you drive, and sometimes, that can make all the difference.
5) How long will you keep your EV?
The average person in the US keeps their vehicle 6yrs or so and the average lifespan of vehicles on the road is 11yrs. So, when considering an EV to buy, it's important to understand your own ownership history and habits, keeping in mind a few important pieces of information about EVs: 1) EVs require much less maintenance. Because there is no engine, and much less to break, EVs have the potential to outlast their fossil fuel burning counterparts. 2) EV batteries will usually last 10yrs or more, but the battery degradation will vary and depend a lot on how the vehicle was driven, charged, and if it has active thermal management. If you are not likely to keep your EV for long, it is not likely to become an issue to worry about. However, if you keep your cars ten years or more, you may want to plan out what you will do when your car needs attention. But you probably do that anyway, don't you?
6) What about road trips?
Most EVs are perfect for lower milage trips, commuting to and from work, and handling the errands around town. The options become limited when looking to go on longer trips. Not all EVs are built the same in this arena. If the alternative of renting a car for road trips is out of the question, then you'd want to make sure that you have an EV with at least 200 miles of range on a full charge to get you from charger to charger along your route. Once again, it's important to point out that not all EVs will charge at the same rate. Some fill up very quickly adding a hundred miles of range or more in 10-15 min, and others will charge much more slowly. When going on road trips, charging speeds can mean the difference between a few hours or an extra day on your trip.
7) Full EV, or Plug-in Hybrid
Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) may be the best choice for you if you have any worry about the range of your car either for daily driving needs, or for long road trips. They are a "gateway plug" to the EV world. Keep in mind though, that because PHEVs retain a gasoline or diesel engine, they also have the cost of maintenance and repairs that a conventional fossil fuel burning vehicle has. Because of this, they will be more costly to own, over time, compared to full battery electric vehicles, but still likely save money in fuel costs over non-EVs. PHEVs can be considered a perfect blend of electric power for around town and fossil burning on longer trips, without having to stop for charging... just refueling the tank.