Electric cars: We’ve all heard about them, and many of us have probably dreamed of a day when we won’t have to worry about riding the never-ending roller-coaster of gas prices. But, what is it really like to own an electric car? Read on to learn about the basic types of electric vehicles, along with some important pros and cons about operating one.
First, you should know that all-electric vehicles (EVs) are only part of the emerging electric car market. Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), which combine an internal combustion engine with the fuel efficiency of an electric motor under the same hood, make up the other segment. Factors like your average daily mileage and overall road conditions will help you determine which type of electric vehicle sparks your interest. But, if you’re curious about the all-electric vehicles, here are some things to know.
Reasons to Consider an Electric Vehicle
There are a lot of reasons why someone might choose to drive an all-electric vehicle, from environmental concerns to saving money on gas.
Never fill up a gas tank again. Just think about how nice it would be never to have to worry about the price at the pump again. All-electric vehicles liberate you from having to dole out more money as gas prices soar.
Keep the environment in mind. The U.S. Department of Energy says that all-electric vehicles don’t emit any pollutants from their tailpipes, so your car won’t contribute to air-quality issues. But, FuelEconomy.gov does note that the power plants that produce the electricity on which your car runs may still emit pollutants.
Maintenance and additional savings: EVs have no costs associated with oil changes, transmission fluids and fuel exhaust system maintenance — because they don’t need these services.
Tax incentives. There are also some tax incentives of which electric vehicle drivers can take advantage. The U.S. Department of Energy says electric vehicles purchased in 2010 or later may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500.
Some Things to Think About First
There are many pluses to driving an electric vehicle, but there are some potential drawbacks, as well.
Range. FuelEconomy.gov says that most electric vehicles can travel 100-200 miles before charging, whereas most vehicles powered by gasoline can go 300 miles or more before you have to stop for gas. When your vehicle does run out of juice, charging it back to full capacity can take four to eight hours (or about a half-hour for an 80 percent charge), compared to the few minutes it takes you to pull over and pump a full tank of gas. So, if you frequently take long road trips, this is something to think about.
Charging logistics. Another thing to consider is where to charge your vehicle. When the battery runs out on an EV, you must recharge it before you drive the vehicle again. There aren’t as many charging stations out there as there are roadside gas stations, so you may have to be more strategic and map out the charging stations along your route before you leave the house.
Costs. Although you won’t have to worry about paying for gas on a weekly basis, as many drivers of cars with internal combustion engines do, powering an electric car isn’t free. Rather than the price at the pump, you will now have to carefully consider how charging your EV at home affects your home electric bill. You also need to consider the cost of installing a charging station at your home, which, according to Edmunds.com, can cost about $2,000 (although the installation of a charging station may make you eligible for a federal income tax credit to partially offset the cost).
Like any car purchase, it’s important to get all the facts about your new electric vehicle before you commit. One final thing to consider is car insurance for your EV.