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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Is It Time To Get an Electric Car?

Electric vehicles have enough advantages over their gas-powered counterparts that it may be time to make the switch.

A former BMW owner, Ed Adler, recently bought a Tesla Model 3. “I think the world of the car,” he says, although the center-mounted screen and lack of gauges in front of the driver took some getting used to. The electric vehicle (EV) won him over for its low maintenance costs, but there are many other advantages. “I don’t think I’ll ever get another combustion engine car,” he says.

If you thought that EVs were only for environmentalists or early adopters, consider that GMC is putting out an all-electric version of its military-inspired Hummer. Or that Tesla has its own futuristic version of the pickup for sale. Let’s dig in to why so many people are making the switch.

  • Variety. As we noted above, pickups are part of today’s EV fleet. But so are compacts, sports cars and SUVs. Toyota, Kia and Ford are making EVs, but so are Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. It’s not just a Tesla world anymore, although the company puts out a great sedan in a variety of price points. 
  • Low maintenance. Say goodbye to oil changes. EVs have fewer moving parts and require less servicing overall than gas cars.
  • Performance. EVs have immediate response and great acceleration, particularly where you need it most, in the 0-30 mph range. Handling is improved because the heavy battery sits low, improving the center of gravity. There’s no “shift-shock” from a transmission. There’s almost no noise except for the wind and the tires. 
  • Lower cost. The initial outlay is a bit higher, but government programs (see below) and lower maintenance and “fueling” charges improve the bottom line. 
  • Range. As batteries improve and more charging stations are added, EVs are going from the around-the-town car to true long-distance vehicles. Currently, most can travel over 200 miles on a single charge, and even the low-cost Chevrolet Bolt can go 259 miles before running out of juice. 
  • Perks. Many states offer incentives to own EVs, such as access to a carpool lane, free parking or other advantages. 
  • No guilt. Electric cars reduce emissions by an average of 70% depending on where you live, according to a recent study. And you can charge at night, when most electricity would otherwise go unused. 

VW Bus Reborn as EV

If you get nostalgic thinking about the iconic Volkswagen Microbus, you’re not alone. Starting in 2022, you’ll be able to get an electric version called the ID.Buzz. Aging hippies can relive their glory days, while others can enjoy one of the best road-tripping cars ever for the first time. And although the gas-powered Bus suffered from a legendary lack of power, the new EV model boasts twin electric motors that put out 369 horsepower with an all-wheel-drive powertrain. Sporting 300 miles of range and a recharge to 80% of storage in about half an hour, the new Bus is a viable RV alternative. “We want to reignite America’s love for VW,” says Herbert Diess, chairman of the board of management for the brand. Peace, everyone!

Electric Batteries Go 2 Million Miles

Tesla battery researcher and developer Jeff Dahn has developed and tested a lithium-ion battery that the scientist believes is capable of lasting 2 million miles in EVs. The batteries show little to no degradation when discharged between a quarter and a half of their capacity - exactly how most people use their cars. The question is, does anyone need a battery that will outlast the rest of their car? Actually, the answer is yes. Here are some reasons:
  • Vehicle to grid. Developers expect that soon, you’ll be able to sell extra capacity back to your electric company. While your car is parked in your garage, you can be earning energy credit.
  • Avoid waste. No more dead batteries going into landfills every few years. Put your old battery in your new car.
  • Special uses. Ferries and hybrid aircraft (large drones) need to be able to work all day, for years. 
  • Grid energy storage. Electric companies will be able to store energy for decades in a single battery.


The number of public charging stations varies across the country, with more along the coasts. Drivers can choose from 112,000 gas stations, but currently are limited to about 28,000 charging stations. However, most EV owners have a charging station at home.

You can use a 120v outlet, although it will take longer to charge. Most homeowners have a 250v outlet installed for between $200 and $800, then plug in a home charging station that will work with virtually every EV (even Tesla, for the cost of a $95 adapter) for about $600. Many utilities offer price breaks for the equipment, and the federal government may extend the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit that bestows a federal tax credit of up to $1,000 to property owners who install a home charging station. You can even tell Alexa to charge your car in the middle of the night when costs are lower.

Cost of Gas vs. Electric Fuel and Maintenance

The cost per mile is less in an EV than a traditional gas-powered vehicle. Rates for electricity and gas vary depending on where you live, but in general you can expect to spend half of what it would cost for gas to keep your EV going, studies say. While it will set you back about $1,117 to keep your gas-guzzling vehicle on the road for a year, its electric equivalent will only require $485 on average. 

Due to their low-maintenance electric motors, EVs don’t need to be serviced as often as vehicles with combustion engines. They will never need an oil change, and the shop won’t be able to upcharge you if you’re not there. Consumer Reports estimates average savings of $4,600 over the life of the car. 

Rebates and Incentives

There are a slew of rebates and incentives for buying (not leasing) a new EV. The biggest is the federal tax credit of up to $7,500, which offsets tax liability for that year. If your tax liability is only $5,000, for example, your credit will only be $5,000 and the remainder cannot be carried forward. 

Not all EVs qualify for the credit, which phases out when a company has sold 200,000 qualifying vehicles. GM and Tesla have met this limit for EVs. Also, most vehicles don’t qualify for the full $7,500, which is based on the power storage capability of the battery. For a full list of eligible electric vehicles, go here.  For a list of eligible hybrids and EVs with the maximum credit for each, go here

Many states also offer tax credits, incentives and rebates. You may find charging station installation incentives, vehicle tax credits, electricity discounts or even driving perks. To find out what your state is offering, go here.
Is it time for you to go electric? It may well be, considering that electric cars drive farther, charge faster and come in more models and price ranges than ever before. If you’re looking for a new car, make sure to consider the array of EVs offered by a host of companies getting in on this growing trend.