Electric vehicles (EVs) have become more popular in the United States, especially with concerns of the emissions of gas-powered vehicles and rising gas prices. While EVs certainly have advantages over traditional cars, they aren’t without a downside. If you’re interested in buying an electric vehicle, it’s important to consider the pros and cons.
Pros of Electric Cars
The following are some of the benefits of electric vehicles:
Arguably the most attractive reason for buying an electric car is that you don’t have to worry about buying costly gasoline. Ultimately, this means more savings for you. A 2020 Consumer Reports study showed that EV drivers tend to spend around 60% less each year on fuel costs compared to drivers of conventional vehicles. Additionally, a study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that EV drivers spend an average of $485 to operate their vehicles, while drivers of gas-powered cars spend an average of $1,117 per year to operate their cars.
Since EVs are fully powered by electricity, they don’t house conventional engines that require regular maintenance. This means you won’t have to change your oil to lubricate the engine. Nor will you have to spend thousands of dollars on expensive engine work to keep your gas-powered vehicle running properly. Additionally, the brake pads in EVs don’t wear out as quickly as standard cars because EVs implement regenerative braking, which slows the car down by charging the battery through the wheels. This means you won’t have to worry about replacing your brake pads often. In the long run, all these features can save you money.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Since electric vehicles rely on a rechargeable battery instead of an internal combustion engine, they don’t produce tailpipe emissions like traditional gas-powered cars. Tailpipe emissions are a major source of pollution in the United States. According to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the average driver of a gas-powered vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Also, gas-powered cars can release methane and nitrous oxide from the tailpipe and hydrofluorocarbon emissions from leaky air conditioners.
Tax Credits and Incentives
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you may receive a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500 if you purchase a new, eligible electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle made in or after 2010. Tax credits are usually more effective than deductions at reducing your tax bill because they’re dollar-for-dollar. For example, if you owe $9,000 to the IRS, you could lower your tax bill up to $7,500, meaning you would only owe $1,500.
Also, many state and local incentives can help you make purchasing an electric vehicle more affordable. For instance, California has the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, where you can qualify for up to a $7,000 rebate for buying or leasing a new, eligible electric, plug-in hybrid, or fuel cell vehicle. Check the U.S. Department of Energy’s list of federal and state incentives to view your options.
Cons of Electric Cars
The following are some of the disadvantages of electric cars:
The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy reports that the median range of all-electric vehicles is 250 miles. This number is much lower than the median range of gas-powered vehicles — 412 miles. You also must consider factors that can decrease your range, such as speed, hauling heavy cargo, and extreme weather conditions. For example, very low temperatures negatively affect an EV battery’s ability to hold a charge. Additionally, driving in hot or cold weather means you’ll likely use air conditioning, which drains your battery power.
Although there are nearly 50,000 EV charging stations in the United States, it still doesn’t compare to the 145,000+ gas stations in the country. So if you were to take a long road trip with your EV, you need to plan your route accordingly to avoid getting stuck on the road.
Takes Longer to “Refuel”
Charging an electric vehicle takes much longer than filling up a gas tank. Even if you were to charge your EV at a DC fast charging station — the fastest option available — it still only offers up to 250 miles of range per hour. Luckily, many of these stations are available at public places such as grocery stores and shopping malls, allowing you to run errands while your EV charges. Still, EV charging stations have a long way to go to beat the in-and-out convenience of a standard gas pump.
EV Charging Installation
If you want the convenience of charging your EV at home, you must purchase a Level 2 charging station and hire a professional to install it. This can be an expensive investment since Level 2 charging stations can cost anywhere from $350 to $900, while the installation can range from $400 to $1,700. Electricity isn’t free, either. If you install an EV home charging station, you’ll most likely see an increase in your electricity bill.
Not Completely Green
While EVs beat out gas-powered vehicles regarding greenhouse gas emissions, the battery manufacturing process can still impact the environment because it’s a difficult, dirty process to mine and extract the minerals needed to make these batteries, such as lithium and cobalt. Plus, EVs still use plastic and rubber materials, which derive from crude oil. It’s also important to properly dispose of these batteries when they’re no longer needed. Otherwise, they can leak and lead to chemical pollution.
Is an Electric Vehicle Right for You?
EVs are an attractive option if you’re looking for a car that’ll get you to work and help you complete your weekend errands. You’ll likely pay more upfront, but what you save in fuel and maintenance costs can make up for it. However, if you need towing capacity, have a long commute, or live in an area with few charging stations, you may want to wait to purchase an EV.
If you decide to buy an electric vehicle, you’ll still need to purchase auto insurance, just like a regular gas-powered car. Luckily, Mercury Insurance provides affordable, quality coverage for your electric vehicle. In fact, Mercury Insurance was named the cheapest insurance provider for electric vehicles in California by NerdWallet.
Contact us today for a fast, free quote.