Electric Cars

5 Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Car

Buying an Electric Car

Most of us know what we need consider when purchasing a gas-powered vehicle, but electric vehicles (EVs) have a different set of considerations that may be new territory for you. To help, Green Cars provides this electric car buying guide so you can feel confident that you’re asking the right questions and selecting the absolute best electric car for you.

1. Range

The range is the distance that an EV can go before needing to plug into an electric car charging station to recharge its batteries.

Luckily, the latest models on the market average a range of 200 miles or more, and you may find you don’t need that much given your daily driving habits.

Before shopping, we recommend making a list, including:

  • Daily commute to and from work, and any other travel required for work
  • Recreational outings
  • Errands
  • Road trips

When you start shopping, you’ll see that electric vehicle description pages provide the estimated range and that you can typically filter vehicles by range needed. Keep in mind that a very hot or very cold climate will decrease the range, which leads us to our next point.

2. Climate

As mentioned above, extreme climates will decrease the listed range for electric cars.

According to AAA:

  • In cold weather (20 degrees Fahrenheit and below), range decreases 41%.
  • In hot weather (95 degrees Fahrenheit and above with air conditioning in use), range decreases 17%.

Consider whether your climate or a particular season may affect your EV range and plan accordingly.

3. Charging Accessibility

At Home

The most convenient and affordable way to charge your electric car or plug-in hybrid is to have a home charging station, so consider whether this is an option where you currently live. If you live in a rental, for example, you will want to see if your rental property has charging stations on the premises or determine where you can charge nearby.

Most EVs can be charged via a typical household wall outlet (110 volts, also called Level 1 Charging), but this takes much longer, so installing a special charging unit is typically suggested.

Think about your parking situation and the ability to install the Level 2 Charging set-up at home (208-240 volts). Also consider the cost of installation, though it can sometimes be offset by incentives from your local utility company.

Out and About

If you’re unable to install a charging unit at home, you can use public charging stations. Keep an eye out on your next commute or download a convenient app like PlugStar to figure out where to plug in. Level 2 and Level 3 charging EVs can reach 80% charge in under an hour, so relying on public charging alone isn’t out of the question.

4. Battery

Federal regulations require that every EV's battery must be covered under an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. Certain brands and models extend their warranty, like Hyundai, while others only protect against total failure. Brands like Chevrolet, Nissan, and Volkswagen will replace your battery if its capacity is decreased between 60-70 percent under warranty.

5. Incentives & Rebates

Current federal tax credits range from $1875 to $7500 for new all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, thus significantly lowering your total cost.

The tax credit amount is based on battery capacity and on the number of units a manufacturer has sold. For example, Tesla is no longer eligible for any credit because it had sold more than 200,000 units over a year ago and has completed the phase-out process.

To see a current list of how much each make and model qualify for, visit the IRS information page. You can also learn more in our guide to Federal Tax Credits for Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrids.

In addition, you may be eligible for state incentives and rebates. Visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) page on Laws & Incentives to see what is available in your area.