Buying an Electric Car

By
Laurance Yap
Updated:
Sep 2022
Time to read:
5
min
Some drivers love the technology that EVs come with; some love the electrifying performance; some love the silence; some are looking to do their part for the environment. And many are looking to save money. Read on to learn why you might want to go electric.
woman talking to salesman about car

Why Buy Electric?

There are many reasons that drivers choose to switch from gasoline to electric vehicles. Some love the technology that EVs come with; some love the electrifying performance; some love the silence; some are looking to do their part for the environment. And many are looking to save money.

A recent study from Canada suggests that you could save thousands over the course of four years – the more you drive, the more you save. While electric vehicles are often more expensive to purchase than their gasoline counterparts, their lower fueling and maintenance costs make them a very attractive proposition over several years. 

Indeed, using average 2021 gas prices, and average 2021 electricity prices, the cost “fueling” the electric Volkswagen ID.4 was a third of the (relatively efficient) gasoline Honda CR-V – and contributed to 22% lower cost per kilometer driven.

Should you become an electric vehicle owner? Let’s find out.

What to Consider

Ready to go shopping? Most of us know what we need to consider when purchasing a gas-powered vehicle, but electric vehicles (EVs) have a slightly different set of considerations.

First, consider range – the distance an EV can go before needing to plug in to recharge its batteries. Luckily, the latest models on the market average a range of 200 miles or often far more. Make a list of how far you commute; recreational outings; errands; and road trips to gauge your true mileage needs. When you start shopping, you’ll see specifications that provide vehicles’ estimated range.

Charging is another important consideration. An EV takes time to “fill up,” and unlike gas stations, charging isn’t available on every corner. If you have a garage or a driveway, installing a home charger will make your life with an EV better – you can drive all day, get home at night, and plug in your car like you plug in your phone. And the next morning, you drive off with a full “tank!”

Some EVs can be charged via a typical household wall outlet (110 volts, also called Level 1 charging), but this can take a very long time – you’ll want to install a Level 2 charging set-up at home (208-240 volts) to fully charge your electric car overnight. If you live in a rental unit, see if your property has charging stations on the premises, or determine where you can charge nearby.

If you’re unable to install a charging unit at home, you can use public charging. Keep an eye out on your commute or download a convenient app like PlugStar to figure out where to plug in. Level 3, or DC fast chargers, can get most electric cars to an 80% charge in under an hour.

Should You Buy Used?

Since many electric vehicles having been on sale for years – and more entries with every day – there’s now a good selection of used EVs out there. While buying a used electric vehicle isn’t that different from buying a used gasoline vehicle, there are some nuances you should be aware of.

Electric vehicles need less maintenance than gasoline vehicles – but they still have wheels, tires, brakes, and other items that wear out. Ask about any maintenance or service history. Most importantly, make sure any software upgrades or recalls have been attended to.

You want to know that the used EV you are considering has a healthy battery. If you have access to a dealer or manufacturer-certified technician, they should be able to plug in the proper diagnostic equipment and provide a battery health report. 

How much range do you need? If you’re considering an electric car that is a few years old, make sure you understand your driving habits – and just how much range you need.  Purchasing an almost-new electric car might net you almost 400 miles of range – but you’ll pay a big premium. If you plan on using your electric vehicle for commuting and have access to a Level 2 charger at home or work, you may find that an electric vehicle with just over 100 miles may be more than enough. That opens up a huge range of possibilities of vehicles and price points to consider.

Once you’ve picked the EV you want to buy, make sure the seller, be it private or a dealer, includes the charging cord and all associated hardware that came with the vehicle originally. Charging cables, home charging pods, and such can be very expensive items.

Research Incentives

Federal incentives are currently available that provide up to $7,500 for new or up to $4,000 for used electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, though a number of restrictions apply. The tax credit amount is based on battery capacity and on the number of units a manufacturer has sold (for example, best-selling Tesla models are no longer eligible for any credit).

Most electric car rebates are focused on new EVs – but your used EV may still be eligible for a regional incentive, or favorable rates on electricity during off-peak hours. The GreenCars incentive tool lets you choose your EV (including model year) and location and will provide you with an easy listing of what is available.

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