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How to Choose and Buy an Electric Vehicle (EV)

Buying or leasing an electric vehicle is a little different than shopping for a traditional gas-powered car because factors such as range and charging play an important role in your decision. If you don’t know what to look for in an EV, our electric car buying guide can help you choose the right one for your needs.

How Much Range Do You Need?

Several factors can determine how much range you need for your electric vehicle. Here are some considerations you need to keep in mind when shopping for an EV:

  • Cost — More range costs more money. For example, there’s an $8,000 price increase from the Nissan LEAF S to the Nissan LEAF SV PLUS. If you need more range, ensure your budget allows you to upgrade to the higher-range model.
  • Climate — Extreme temperatures can affect your EV’s driving range because the battery needs to work harder to maintain its temperature at a neutral level. If you live in a cold or hot climate, consider getting a high-range car to compensate for the potential range loss.
  • Cargo — A lower-range EV may be a suitable option if you usually drive alone or don’t carry much cargo. But if you often transport other passengers or heavy cargo, you may want to consider a higher-range EV. Why? The more your car carries, the more the motor has to work to offset the weight, which also consumes a lot of battery power. 
  • Speed — The faster you drive, the quicker the battery drains because the electric motor has more work to do. A higher-range EV might be a better choice if you often drive on highways.
  • Daily Drive — According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average person drove 14,263 miles in 2019. That’s nearly 40 miles per day, which a lower-range EV could handle. However, if you have a long commute or take regular road trips, a higher-range EV may be a better option.

Where Will You Charge?

When it comes to EV charging, you have two options: charging at home or visiting public EV charging stations.

Charging at Home

Charging your EV at home is the most convenient option, allowing you to charge your car in the privacy of your garage.  When you purchase an EV, it comes with a Level 1 charger, which connects to a standard 120-volt outlet and provides 3-5 miles of range per hour. Level 1 charging may be enough for short commutes, but if you need faster EV charging speeds, consider Level 2 charging.

A Level 2 charger connects to a 240-volt outlet and offers 20-30 miles of range per hour. This means an overnight charge can give your EV battery a full charge. However, you must pay for a Level 2 charger and hire a licensed electrician to install it in your home. In total, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

If you can’t charge your EV at home, your only option is to go to a public charging station. Most charging stations provide Level 2 charging, but some stations offer DC fast charging, which can charge an EV’s battery up to 80% in around 30 minutes. However, even at their fastest charging speeds, public charging stations hardly compare to the in-and-out convenience of filling up a gas tank. That’s why it’s best to plan your charging around work or errands, so you can get a decent charge while going about your day.

What Incentives and Rebates Are Available for EVs?

Before shopping, you may want to look into available incentives and rebates for EVs. The biggest one is a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for purchasing a new electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle made in or after 2010. However, Some EVs, including newer Tesla models, aren’t eligible for this tax credit.

Also, several state and local governments offer incentives to help you reduce the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle. For example, California provides the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, where you can get a rebate of up to $7,000 for buying or leasing a new all-electric, plug-in hybrid, or fuel cell vehicle. Check the U.S. Department of Energy’s complete list of federal and state incentives to see what you’re eligible for.

Should I Lease or Buy an EV?

Deciding whether to buy or lease an electric vehicle can be difficult. Take a look at the pros and cons of each option:

Pros for Buying an EV

  • You’re eligible for the federal tax credit and incentives, depending on the EV you purchase
  • No mileage limit
  • You’re free to customize your EV
  • You’re not locked into a lease term, meaning you can sell your EV whenever you want

Cons for Buying an EV

  • As your EV ages, its value may decline fast due to improvements in technology, performance, charging speeds, and range
  • You might have to pay more money upfront and deal with a higher monthly payment
  • You must handle post-warranty issues

Pros for Leasing an EV

  • You can avoid locking into aging technology and upgrade your EV as soon as your lease ends
  • You usually have a smaller down payment and lower monthly payments
  • You can negotiate things like routine maintenance into the lease

Cons for Leasing an EV

  • You’re locked into a lease term, and it can be expensive to get out
  • You might not be eligible for tax credits and incentives by leasing a car
  • There’s usually a mileage limit
  • You can’t customize your EV

Best EVs

Got a family? Have a long commute? Love to get out and explore nature? According to Edmunds, these EVs can help maximize your specific lifestyle.

No matter what type of EV you’re considering, you still need auto insurance. Luckily, many EVs are affordable to insure, especially with Mercury Insurance. Contact us today for a fast, free quote.