Call it an electric car, electric vehicle or EV – either way, it is easily one of most exciting and innovative additions to the automobile market in quite a while. Not only does driving an EV save you money and help the environment, but they’re fun to drive and cool to look at!
With all of the benefits of driving an electric car, you likely still have a slew of questions about how they work, how much they cost, and whether your auto insurance rates will go through the roof.
No worries, we have you covered with our electric vehicle guide.
In This Article
- How do Electric Cars Work?
- How Much Do EVs Cost?
- Electric Car Insurance
- The Cheapest Electric Car
- The Best Electric Cars
- Should You Buy an EV?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Electric Car?
Electric vehicles run fully or partially on electricity as opposed to relying 100% on gasoline or diesel fuel. They have an electric motor that’s powered by the electricity from a battery or fuel cell.
The 3 primary types of EVs are:
- Plug-in Hybrid: With a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) you have the flexibility to use gas or electricity to power your car. This is a great option if you want to primarily charge your vehicle, but enjoy having the option of using gas if necessary.
- Battery Electric: The battery electric vehicle (BEV) can only be powered electrically. It’s also known as an all-electric vehicle.
- Hydrogen Fuel Cell: A hydrogen fuel cell car powers its motor by converting hydrogen gas into electricity.
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How do Electric Vehicles Work?
EVs are different from conventional gas-powered vehicles because they are powered by an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. That electric motor has to be plugged into a wall outlet or other charging equipment because it runs on electricity.
The battery electric vehicle or all-electric car doesn’t have the liquid fuel parts you’ve come to know such as a fuel pump, fuel line or fuel tank because they don’t take gas. However, your plug-in hybrid will still have these parts because they still accept fuel as an option to power it.
Why Buy an EV?
Electric cars aren’t just a fad — they’re the future of transportation. And if you’re in the market for a new car, electric vehicles are worth considering, no matter your budget.
Here are just a few of the reasons why you should consider an electric car:
- You Save on Fuel: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the cost of fuel for an electric car is less than half of what it is for gas-powered vehicles. Just think about how much you spend on gas each month and you’ll realize exactly how much you can save!
- You Save on Maintenance: New research from Consumer Reports shows that the estimated annual maintenance costs of electric cars is around 25% less than traditional vehicles. This is because electric vehicles have far fewer moving parts, which means less wear and tear on your car.
- You Save the Environment: The Department of Energy recently found that electric vehicles produce as little as a third of the annual emissions when compared to traditional gas-powered cars. Now that’ll put a serious dent in your overall carbon footprint!
Sounds great, right? Well these aren’t the only benefits of having an EV. Learn about all of the advantages of electric cars including tax breaks, HOV lane leniency and more.
How Much Do Electric Cars Cost?
The true cost of an electric car goes beyond the initial sticker price. While you’re likely to pay more up front, you want to also consider the more affordable annual maintenance costs, drastically reduced fuel expenses, local and federal tax incentives, and the fact that lowering your annual emissions will do wonders for the environment.
Here’s a quick overview of EV costs to consider:
- Sticker Price: According to the United States Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the average sticker price on a new electric vehicle is approximately $19,000 more than what you’d pay for a new gas powered car.
- Fuel Cost: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, powering an EV electrically costs half of what you pay to power a gas-powered car.
- Maintenance: Electric cars have fewer parts that need to be regularly replaced such as the oil, spark plug or timing belt. That reduces your annual maintenance costs by around 25%.
- At Home Charging Station: It can cost between $250-$4,500 to have an at home charging station installed. The price varies widely depending on the type of charger you select and how much electric work needs to be done at your home.
- At Home Charger: While your vehicle will likely come with a Level 1 charger, many drivers purchase a Level 2 charger for around $2,000. This allows your vehicle to charge in less than 8 hours at home.
- Electricity: If you charge your vehicle at home, you’ll pay an additional $25 or so per month in electricity according to Kelly Blue Book. Compare that to the cost of gas and you’ll be amazed at how much you’re saving.
- Repair Bills: According to a study by We Predict, a predictive analytics firm, repair bills over the first 3 years of ownership are 22% less for an EV compared to a gas-powered car.
You can learn more about the cost of an electric vehicle including upfront expenses, charging considerations, maintenance and fuel costs.
Are Electric Vehicles Cheaper to Insure?
The simple answer to this question is no. Why? Because EVs tend to be more expensive to purchase. When it comes to auto insurance, a general rule is that more expensive vehicles with a higher value cost more to insure.
The same thing is true for gas powered vehicles. For example, you’ll pay more to insure a 2017 Mercedes Benz GLC 300 than you would to insure a 2007 Nissan Sentra.
But thankfully, there are ways to make up for the higher insurance costs.
One being that you’re saving a great deal on maintenance. According to the US Department of Energy, the cost to maintain a gas powered vehicle is 10.1 cents per mile driven, while an EV costs nearly 40% less at just 6.1 cents per mile driven.
Add on the fact that you’re paying far less to power your electric car because you don’t need gas and that you might qualify for a $7,500 tax break and the higher insurance cost doesn’t seem quite so bad.
Lastly, just because insurance is more expensive doesn’t mean you can’t still save money. If you want to compare car insurance quotes from some of the best companies for electric car insurance, just enter your ZIP below.
Get Your Best Rates in Minutes!
Learn more: Electric Car Insurance Costs Explained
How Much Does it Cost to Charge an EV?
The sticker price might be more for an electric car, but you’re sure to save a ton in one area – that’s how much it costs to power your vehicle. Keep in mind that there are several factors to consider when looking at the cost to charge an electric car, including whether you’re paying to charge per kWh (kilowatt-hour) or per minute. Also, if you charge at home or at a public charging facility.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average driver in the US pays around 14 cents per kWh. They also get an average of 3 miles per kWh. That relates to how much it costs to charge a vehicle in this way.
If you drive 600 miles and get 3 miles out of each kWh, you’ll use 200 kWh. Multiply your 200 kWh by 14 cents and you get $28. That means on average you’ll pay just $28 to drive 600 miles!
Now compare that to the cost of gas. Today, the average is $4.25/gallon for regular gas up to $4.82/gallon for premium gas. With these prices there’s no way you can get close to 600 miles for $28.
Ultimately, no matter how you look at it, the lifetime fuel cost savings are massive and a huge attraction for driving an electric vehicle.
If you want to learn more, we put together a more comprehensive look at how much EV drivers pay to charge their vehicles. Take a look to learn about costs based on if you charge at home, in public or through a membership and how to reduce your charging costs altogether.
What is the Cheapest Electric Car?
While EVs are known for being more expensive than the traditional gas-powered vehicle, there are several affordable options on the market. Some of the cheapest electric cars in 2022 include:
- Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid, starting at just $24,690
- Hyundai IONIQ Plug-In Hybrid, starting at just $26,700
- Nissan Leaf, starting at just $27,400
What is the Best Electric Vehicle?
With so many vehicles on the market, there’s really no best electric car. It’ll depend on your lifestyle, automobile preferences and budget.
We put together this list of some of the best used electric cars available in 2022.
Which EV has the Best Range?
Concerned about how far you can drive after charging your EV? The good news is there are many electric cars on the market that have an amazing range of 250+ miles from one charge.
Here are some EVs with the best range:
- Tesla Model S – 373 miles
- Tesla Model 3 – 353 miles
- Ford Mustang Mach-E – 305 miles
- Hyundai Kona Electric – 258 miles
- Volkswagen ID.4 – 250 miles
But these are just a few. Be sure to consider how many miles you’d want your vehicle to travel on one charge and see what else is available on the market.
Why are Electric Cars so Expensive?
There’s no simple way to answer this question, but there are a few ideas behind why the sticker price for an EV is higher than that of a traditional gas-powered vehicle.
- Cost of batteries: The technology behind the EV is unlike others we’ve seen on the market. Part of that technology is the battery that powers the vehicle. The advanced battery technology can easily make up ⅓ of the cost of an electric car.
- Supply and Demand: If you take a look at the face of EVs, Tesla, supply and demand is a major reason why they’re so expensive. There’s a high demand for Tesla models and the production company is finding it challenging to keep up. The increased demand and low supply allows for prices to creep up.
- Research and Development: Some companies are simply striving to recoup the money they put into research and development before releasing their EV model.
Should I Buy an Electric Vehicle?
Considering whether an EV is for you? The best way to decide that is to consider all angles. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Understand Your Needs
There are several things to think about when you’re considering buying an electric vehicle. A few of the questions you should be asking yourself include:
- How long is your commute?
- Do you plan on going on long road trips?
- How much space for passengers and cargo do you need?
- Do you have a garage or other area where you can charge your vehicle at home?
- How many charging stations are in your area?
- Does your state offer EV-specific tax incentives?
Your answers to these questions will help determine which type of electric car is best suited to your needs.
Determine Your Budget
While electric cars are typically more expensive than traditional gas-powered vehicles, they can vary wildly in price.
Cars like the Nissan Leaf can be purchased for less than $10,000 used, while others, like the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, can run as high as $200,000 or more.
Just remember, even though you might be paying more up front for an electric vehicle, you can save big in the long run with reduced fuel and maintenance prices, along with a slew of available tax incentives (more on that later).
You also might consider a pre-owned electric car. Certain models depreciate more than traditional gas-powered vehicles, so you might uncover some big savings on the used market.
Learn more: The Best Used Electric Cars for Your Budget
Decide Which Type of EV is Best for You
There are several types of electric vehicles on the market today, each with different benefits and barriers.
If you don’t have a long commute and own your own home (and can therefore install a permanent charging port), a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), which can save you thousands on gas and maintenance, might be a great option.
If you go on lots of long drives and are worried about running down a battery, a Hybrid Vehicle (HEV) or Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) is a great choice.
And if you live in California and want to be an early adopter, a hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) might be worth considering.
Compare Long-term Costs of Maintenance, Fuel, and other Expenses
Another factor to consider is the difference in long-term costs to own an electric vehicle. As we’ve already mentioned, you can expect to pay less on fuel and maintenance than you would if you owned a traditional vehicle, but how much depends on which type of EV you choose, and can even vary depending on make/model.
Luckily, MIT’s Trancik Lab has put together a handy tool that allows you to compare all of the ownership costs between various electric makes and models. So be sure to visit carboncounter.com before you make your final decision!
Research Available Tax Credits
One of the biggest benefits of buying an electric vehicle is the government-sponsored tax incentives.
However, exactly how much you can save on your taxes depends on where you live, so be sure to research all of the incentives offered in your local area. Trust us, you’ll be thankful come next tax season!
Learn more: How Does the Electric Car Tax Credit Work?
Still on the fence about whether or not your next vehicle should be an EV? Check out our guide that covers everything you need to know about buying an EV.
FAQs About Electric Vehicles
Which is the best electric car?
The best electric car for you will depend on your vehicle preferences and budget. Some popular models include the Tesla Model 3, Porsche Taycan, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Kia EV6. But just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they’re the best for you. Be sure to do your research to find your best option.
Are electric cars really cheaper to run?
Yes, you will pay less to power your vehicle using electricity vs. fuel. Also, your maintenance costs will be lower by an average of 25-40%.
Are electric cars worth it?
Yes, there are numerous benefits to driving an electric car which certainly make owning or leasing one worth it. Not only are you saving by not needing gas and reducing your maintenance costs significantly, you’re leaving less of an imprint on the environment which is better for us all long term.
Is driving an electric car any better than driving a conventional car?
Electric cars are more energy efficient, cheaper to power and maintain, so yes, they’re better. It may take some getting used to, but in the end, you’re saving while also helping the environment.
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