There are as many reasons for buying an electric vehicle (or EV) as there are people buying them. If you’re put off by environmentalists telling you that you should buy an EV or else civilization will cease to exist as we know it, you’re not alone. Spoiler alert: that’s far from the only reason to buy an EV.
The Nitty-Gritty Details of Buying an Electric Vehicle
Let’s be intellectually honest; there are no “green” cars. There are definitely cars that are greener than others, but if being environmentally friendly was the deciding factor for transportation, we should hop on a bicycle when we need to get from point A to B.
Many (most?) early EV adopters were from the environmentally conscious tribe. Fast forward a few years, and for better or for worse, EV owners are synonymous with tree-huggers. I hope that by the time you’re done reading this, you realize that all the sanctimonious do-goodery is merely a happy coincidence. There are plenty of other reasons to consider buying an EV– just as there are reasons not to buy an EV.
Without further ado, here are my top reasons to consider buying an electric vehicle:
- Better driving experience. I mean this in every sense of the word. Smoother and quieter, with linear power delivery that just never stops. The thing that surprises most EV drivers is how accustomed they have become to the noise of an ICE-mobile (better known as a gasoline-powered vehicle) and how relaxing it is to be free of it. An EV’s instant torque and smooth, quiet operation provide a driving experience far more enjoyable than an ICE-mobile.
- Waking every morning to a “full tank.” Clearly, this only applies if you can charge where you park (which, in my view, is a must). People compare this phenomenon to the liberation they feel from going to the laundromat and rooting for quarters once they get an apartment with a built-in washer and dryer.
- Torque. This is my favorite thing about EVs. All torque, all the time. Instant and flat. Some people confuse power and torque: power is about top speed, while torque is about acceleration. This is why the average EV might out-accelerate a McLaren, but the McLaren will destroy the average EV in terms of top speed. Any modern car has plenty of capability in terms of speed– far more than any posted speed limit. But concerning acceleration, I think some vehicles on the road are borderline dangerous. That won’t be the case with an EV. Just be aware if you abuse the go-pedal, you’ll be buying tires more often than you’re used to.
- Cost savings. Even after factoring in a few more sets of tires over an EV’s lifespan, the lifetime cost of operating an EV is significantly lower compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles. With lower fuel costs and reduced maintenance requirements, even if the initial cost is higher, you’ll find that EVs can save you more money the longer you drive them. How much more is a straightforward conversation, but that topic will have to wait for another column. Now consider that many EVs today are cost competitive with their ICE-mobile counterparts, and the savings go up proportionally. Factor in Federal incentives if you qualify, and it’s a bona fide no-brainer. We’ll dive deeper into the topic of cost savings in a future column.
- Energy independence. By relying on electricity instead of finite oil resources, EVs reduce dependence on an economically volatile commodity and provide a more secure energy future. The vast majority of ICE-mobiles run on one and only one fuel– petroleum (ignoring the small number of natural gas cars on the road). An EV can operate on wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, nuclear, coal, and even petroleum-generated power. To have energy independence, we need the flexibility an “all of the above” solution provides. Energy independence can help foster not only economic stability but also political stability. Stated another way, your utility bill never has, nor will it ever, fluctuate wildly due to world events, unlike the price of a barrel of oil.
- The latest technology. All modern cars are computers on wheels, and EVs are even more so. This is a distraction for some but a perk for others. From things like driver-assist features, voice control, and detailed range maps, modern EVs are on the cutting edge of vehicle tech.
- Access to HOV lanes. In some areas, EVs may be eligible for solo use in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, reducing commute time.
- Federal tax credits and state rebates. There are various subsidies available, but there are income caps, and you need to take care as not all EVs are eligible. One recent change is that used EVs are now eligible for these incentives.
It would be dodgy of me to address an EV’s merits without discussing one of its (perceived) drawbacks– the time it takes to charge. What I refer to as “first and last mile charging” falls under the category of destination charging. Most of the time, this destination will be at your home or place of work. The vast majority will also be done at Level 2 charging stations where charge speed is not a priority– because you will spend an extended amount of time at your destination.
It is charging in transit where charge speed creates anxiety. Note that I am not calling this “range anxiety,” as I think that is a phrase developed to evoke scaremongering. Charging in transit accounts for less than 10% of all charging practices, yet it consumes excessive bandwidth in the media.
But managing and planning transit charging is a topic for a future column, so I will conclude this one with just a few quick facts. First, charging in transit can be done. EV Cannonballs have made the trip from NYC to LA in just 44:25 hours (as a comparison, ICE-mobiles hold the overall record at 25:39 hours). Charging in transit must be planned a bit more than in your ICE-mobile, but there are apps to help with that. There really is no reason to stress about it.
The second fact is that if your planned use of an EV includes a lot of transit charging, and you don’t want to deal with that, then an EV is probably not for you (or at least not a BEV). Conversely, if your planned use is mostly around town with only the occasional 500-mile road trip, and you can leave the house every day with over 200 miles of all-electric range, an EV might fit your needs. Consider the advantages of driving electric balanced with the extra 20 minutes it’ll take to get to grandma’s. Everyone who has bought an EV has gone through the same decision process and concluded that the benefits outweigh the occasional break to charge. And being “green” is merely a happy coincidence.
Next week’s topic will be charging standards.