Our family of five needs a new car and we’re considering, for the first time, an Electric Vehicle (EV). If you haven’t done research into EVs, the terminology can be confusing. There’s charging, range, tax credits, and kilowatt-hours.
Start by reviewing unbiased rankings of EVs by Edmunds or Consumer Reports. Many car concepts will begin at the luxury level, so there are options available from Jaguar, Volvo, BMW and of course Tesla. Tesla made a splash with the more expensive Model S, retailing for as much as $90,000. But now the big seller is the more approachable Model 3, base model coming in below $40,000.
The big automakers are taking notice and rolling out even more budget-friendly options. Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf are priced competitively in the mid $20,000 range after incentives. With smaller startups like Lucid and Rivian joining the party, we anticipate rapid model proliferation going forward.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is range – how far you can go on a single charge before being stranded, leading to ‘range anxiety.’ Range has gotten significantly better, with most vehicles offering 150-250 miles of range and some models even north of 300 miles.
You don’t need to be a mechanical engineer to understand EVs, but you should understand kilowatt-hours (kWh). Battery capacity is measured in kWh. Energy consumption is measured in kilowatt-hours per 100 miles (kWh/100 miles). You want high kWh to maximize capacity, but a low kWh/100 miles figure to minimize the cost to charge your battery.
There are three common ways to charge your EV. Level 1 is your normal three-hole outlet in your garage, but this can take a very long time. Level 2 is a charging unit for your home and can do a full charge in around 10 hours. Level 3 is commercial charging stations providing 100 miles of range in 30 minutes — explore Plugshare.com for full list of stations available.
Now that you have your EV selected, what’s the best way to pay for it? Current incentives make EVs quite approachable. There is a $7,500 tax credit if you purchase an EV, but keep in mind this is not a discount, but a credit when you do your taxes. And with EV technology changing rapidly, you might want to consider upgrading every two to three years via leasing. The automaker gets the tax credit, but may choose to factor it into a lower monthly payment. Some leases go for below $250/mo now. Think of your EV like you would your iPhone.
Finally, there is a global microprocessor supply chain issue impacting the availability of all new cars now, but inventories still seem okay at Vermont dealerships. From clients that have converted to EVs, we have yet to hear a negative experience, so if you are considering going electric, enjoy the ride!