Frequently asked questions about Electric Vehicles
Why do you drive an Electric Car?
There are many reasons to drive electric. For many, it's environmental. Some will argue that using electricity means burning coal. That is true for much of the country, but what many people don't realize is that it also takes almost as much electricity to refine oil into gasoline, pump that gasoline, transport that gasoline to gas stations, and power the gas stations as it does to power your car for an equivalent number of miles. So when you drive a gas car, it's burning gas AND burning the same coal that would be used to charge the electric car. Not only that, but the source for electricity can be converted to wind or solar. There is no way to change the source of gasoline to anything other than oil.
For others it is geopolitical. 58% of our imported oil comes from Saudi Arabia, 15% from Iraq, 8% from Venezuala, etc. For some, this is enough reason to break free from oil, to no longer be dependent on countries that have oppressive governments and force us to be entangled in their affairs.
Another reason for driving electric is that it's fun! Even the Nissan Leaf, a family hatchback has a 0-30 time of 3 seconds with instant torque. It's a surprisingly fun car to drive, and takes off from a traffic light faster than many V6 sedans. Spend a lot more money and you could get into a Tesla P100D and go 0-60 in an absolutely ludicrous 25 seconds, faster than any other car currently in production, including the most expensive supercars, and that's a 4 door, 5+2 passenger behemoth of a sedan.
You won't currently save money in the short term by going electric unless you happen to already have a charging station installed at home. If your charger plus installation is paid for, you will be saving money per mile, depending on your driving style and cost per kWh. In the long term, though, the savings will start to add up when you take into account the lack of maintenance required of electric cars, cost of fuel, etc.
How much does it cost to drive an EV?
This is a loaded question. Sure, if you're looking to get 300 miles of range with super fast charging capability in an extremely quick, very nice looking car, a new $80k+ Tesla is the way to go. But there are lots of other ways to jump into an EV now, and within the next year or two there will be many more options out there.
Right now if you buy a new EV, you can claim the $7500 tax rebate. This is not a full credit, so if your income is not high enough to warrant you paying $7500 in taxes at the end of the year, you will not receive the full rebate. This is up to $7500 taken off of your taxes due. This tax credit is available for each car company until they hit 200,000 EVs delivered in the US. Both Tesla and GM are at just over 100,000 as of Q4 2016, so new Bolt buyers will receive the rebate for at least the next 18 months after the car launches, and most people that preordered the Tesla Model 3 will receive the rebate as well.
Another option that will work for even more people is buying a used EV. Low mileage Nissan Leafs are now easy to find under $10,000 and slightly higher mileage Leafs can be found as low as $6000. If your daily driving never takes you above 80 miles, this car is perfect for you. A Certified Preowned Tesla Model S with Warranty can be had for as little as $45,000, so even if you want cheaper luxury with warranty and supercharging free for life, this is the way to go to save some money.
As far as how much it costs to drive, this can vary based on your electricity rates and driving style. For instance, I drive aggressively (the acceleration is so much fun) yet I still average 4 miles per kilowatt hour. My electricity rate is about $0.11/kWh. So to drive 40 miles, it costs me $1.10. A gas car that gets 40mpg would cost $2.20 currently for a gallon of gas to travel the same 40 miles. That's half compared to a fuel efficient car. You'd pay $4.40 in gas in a guzzler that gets 20mpg to go the same 40 miles. Do the math on how much you travel in a week, month, year, and that can add up.
There is also almost zero maintenance in an EV. Brakes and tires just like in a gas car, but other than that, almost nothing. Nissan recommends a yearly battery inspection for warranty purposes. This costs about $100. Some states make you pay more for a tag if you drive an EV, to recoup some of the gas tax you never pay. These little things can add up if you don't expect them, but overall, your cost once you own the car is usually much less.