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Major automakers have been selling all-electric vehicles for over half a decade in the U.S. and a fair number of people have turned to them as an alternative to traditional internal combustion powered transportation.
At the same time, low gas prices have induced a spike in more gas-consuming truck and SUV sales, suggesting EVs are not always at the forefront of the average shoppers’ minds, when given their druthers.
That is projected to change, as just about the entire auto industry is making forward-looking statements of new EVs on the near horizon, and second- and third-generation EVs are also due soon.
Meanwhile, many people who have switched over already have said they’ll never look back. To highlight what numerous consumers may be overlooking when passing a glance at the prospect of EVs, following are a few pointers in brief overview:
1. EVs Can Work for Most Americans
The U.S. Department of Energy says as many as eight out of 10 Americans drive less than 40 miles daily, meaning even the lowest-range EVs can fill the bill as a daily runabout.
It’s been tough for many to get their minds around, however, as typically a car is thought of as a do-all, go-anywhere conveyance. Though new longer-range EVs are coming, cars like 200-300 mile Teslas with fast Supercharging network are today the ones that go the farthest toward eliminating the “range anxiety,” but that is a traditional mindset.
If thought of as a commuter for average daily driving, even older EVs with 60-80 miles effective range are feasible. Discovering where intra-day charging can be found, or having a place to plug in at the end stop is also part of making non-Tesla EVs workable even for drives of well over 100 miles, even 150-plus miles in a day.
At the same time, EVs’ “instant torque” means quick off-the-line propulsion, quiet, smooth operation, and the peppy cars are novel and fun to drive.
2. EVs Are The Best For Air Quality
With no tailpipe, EVs are the cleanest vehicles widely available for the environment, sending no greenhouse gases or other health-affecting pollutants into the air.
They also send no petro dollars to OPEC, or anywhere else, instead relying on domestically sourced energy.
With the grid cleaning up under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, even the worst-case scenario is better than an average 30-some mpg conventional car.
3. Maintenance Costs Are Low
The mechanics of the powertrain in electric cars are extremely simple compared to an internal combustion vehicle with hundreds of moving parts.
EVs don’t even have multi-speed transmissions, instead using one-speed gear reduction from the motor drive to propel the car.
As such, engine tune ups, oil changes, and other routine maintenance are a thing of the past. Even brakes tend to last much longer as regenerative braking saves the friction pads and rotors from greater wear.
EVs are otherwise full automobiles, so other systems may still have about the same chances for reliability as their counterparts in conventional cars and trucks, but the powertrain aspect is a comparative plus.
4. No More Gas Stops
EVs charge from home, and assuming one has a place to plug in, they cut the umbilical cord to the oil companies.
Oddly, this fact gets spun one of two ways: Some have touted not having to plug as an advantage – usually when trying to sell you a car that does not plug in, like a regular hybrid. More often, EV drivers feel liberated by skipping the gas station, plugging in when they get home, all in one easy move.
Utility costs per kilowatt-hour vary widely across the country from less than 8 cents to over 20 cents per kWh, but added to the convenience, is typically lower financial expense.
There are a few ways to look at getting into an EV – new, or used.
While some reports have emphasized EVs’ price premium over conventional cars, that is not the whole story, and where there is a will, there may be a better way to acquire one than one might first realize.
For starters, government incentives may effectively slash as much as a quarter to a third off the net MSRP of some moderately priced EVs such as a Nissan Leaf or other car in this bracket.
At least clear is the federal government does offer up to $7,500 in a one-time tax credit assuming your reporting liability. Many states also offer up to several thousand dollars for purchases, and incentives or perks may be available for charging too.
Even to get the EV market ball rolling, the U.S. Energy Department through the Argonne National Lab claims credit for lithium-ion “breakthrough” batteries utilizing lithium-rich and manganese-rich mixed-metal oxides offering at least 50-percent more energy capacity. This federally sponsored tech has been licensed by several companies including Envia, Toda, BASF and Compact Power/LG Chem.
Another factor to consider is the growing used EV market. One person’s loss may be your gain, as this is a time when off-lease EVs are coming to market with relatively low miles, in good shape, and with prices driven down by the prospect of better EVs pending.
Remember, even the first-generation EVs can do the job, and cars like the Nissan Leaf have been reported with prices in the teens, so it may be worthwhile to shop around and see what can be found.
If this potential for lower resale values sounds un-nerving for the prospect of buying a new EV, you would not be alone. A much larger percentage of people do lease EVs, though some choose to purchase.
Lease deals can make the economics work out well to the savvy shopper, and motivated dealers with sharpened pencils may also be extra cooperative on a case by case basis.
A list of all alternative passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. can be seen at our sales Dashboard.