Proud to Serve Santa Clara County

8 Things Shoppers Should Consider Before Buying Electric Vehicles

EV ( Electric Car)

Electric Vehicles Are the Future: Are You Ready to Make the Jump?

With all the exciting electric vehicles being released each year, it is no wonder there are expected to be 145 million EV drivers on the road by the end of this decade. EVs are now or will soon be available from every major auto manufacturer along with several startup companies like Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid.

There are many reasons to consider exploring electric vehicle options, from saving money at the pump to reducing your carbon footprint. While getting behind the wheel of a brand new EV is exciting, there are some tough questions to consider before making that purchase.

Read on to explore eight things to consider before leaping into an EV purchase:.

 1. Can My Home Handle an EV Charging Station?

The last thing you want to do is drop $50,000 on a brand new electric vehicle only to find that your home’s electrical system cannot handle an at-home charging station without some significant upgrades. While the number of public charging stations is growing, but not nearly as fast as the number of new EVs hitting the road. If you do not live, work, or play near a public charging station, you might find yourself going out of your way just to keep your car running.

At-home electric vehicle charging stations offer a variety of benefits. The first is that they are more convenient, and you can charge your vehicle whenever you are home and not waste your time in a parking lot or garage. You will also pay less for the electricity use at home versus a public charging station.

The challenge is that many EV buyers are unaware of the electrical infrastructure required to properly run an at-home charger. Some older electrical panels, like those from Federal Pacific, Zinsco, and others, may need to be completely replaced to handle a home charger. You may also need to add additional load management systems.

There are four things that your electric vehicle charging station installation team can help you evaluate:

  1. A home electric load calculation to determine what kind of amperage load your current system can handle.
  2. What style of charger is needed. Some vehicles only work with a specific charger, while others are more universal.
  3. Where the charging station will be located: garage, carport, outdoors, etc.
  4. The price to complete any necessary upgrades to create a dedicated circuit for your EV charging station.

Understanding the entirety of the costs associated with your new EV will help determine your total budget. Luckily, the Watson’s Charging Station & Electric team is here to help with your electrical needs. Let us evaluate your current system and provide an accurate and honest estimate.

2. Do the Electric Vehicles I am Looking at Meet My Needs?

It is easy to get caught up with all of the new technology hitting the market that we forget why we need a car in the first place. As with any automotive purchase, it is vital that you do your homework to ensure it meets your needs.

Electric vehicles like the Chevy Bolt EV are appealing due to their low starting MSRPs and reputation, but that does not mean they are the right choice for you, especially if you’re on the taller side.

Make sure any electric vehicle you are considering has enough passenger and cargo space for your family, fits your budget, and has the features you need from an automobile. Make sure you schedule test drives with your local dealerships to get a real-life feel for how different electric vehicles handle the road.

3. Does It Offer Sufficient Driving Range?

When highway-capable electric vehicles first hit the road, they could only drive about 30-40 miles on a full charge. For most drivers, that kind of electric range simply was not practical.

Luckily, technology has come a long way, and newer electric vehicles can go much farther without needing to stop for a charge. These ranges, however, are still all over the place. Modern plug-in hybrid vehicles still have shorter ranges, but they also use gas-hybrid powertrains to keep you moving when your electric battery is depleted. You can expect just over 40 miles of range on plug-in hybrid cars like the Honda Clarity and Toyota RAV4.

Modern vehicles that rely entirely on an electric battery pack have improved, but you still need to do your homework. For example, if you have a longer commute or enjoy long road trips, something like the Mazda MX-30 with an EPA-estimated electric range of 100 miles might not be a great choice. On the same note, if you only require short jaunts here and there, it may not be worth paying the extra cash for something like a Tesla Model 3 with an EPA-estimated electric range of 358 miles.

How you use your EV will also impact its battery life. A Ford F-150 Lightning hauling an 8,000-pound trailer load in the mountains will burn through electric power much faster than a Hyundai Ioniq 5 cruising through the suburbs.

4. Should I Buy or Lease an Electric Vehicle?

The debate between buying or leasing a new car goes back generations. Both options certainly have their benefits and drawbacks. For example, many drivers love buying a car, owning it outright, not dealing with mileage limitations, and eventually dropping the monthly payment. On the other hand, lease lovers tout the ability to upgrade their rides every few years and the, on average, lower monthly price.

Currently, about 30% of all new cars are leased for gasoline-powered vehicles. Only 20% of new electric vehicles are leased, but that number is rising. With the explosion of technological advances hitting the EV scene, something is appealing about being able to upgrade your vehicle to the newest version. Of course, leasing also means that you will have some kind of payment in perpetuity, and you might end up with additional charges if you exceed the mileage limit or damage the vehicle.

Buying your next EV is also a great option if you want the freedom to do whatever you want with your car. Once the loan is paid off, you won’t have to worry about car payments until you buy your next one.

Unfortunately, there is no single answer to whether you should buy or lease an EV. You have to look at your options, wants, and budget and decide which option makes the most sense for you.

5. Should I Buy a New or Used EV?

Another question that every shopper must ask is if they want to buy a new or used car. You might think that not many used electric vehicles are used, but that is not the case. Electric vehicles are not something that just popped up in the last few years. The idea and implementation of an electric vehicle go back to 1827, when Anyos Jedlik, a Hungarian priest, built the first viable motor. The first mass-produced EVs hit the market as early as 1902.

The electric cars that we know today are often distinguished as being highway-capable. While highway-capable EVs have not been around forever, they have been around long enough to create a host of used EV options. The question comes back to whether you want to drive a new or pre-owned EV.

Buying a new electric vehicle ensures you get the absolute latest technology, a full manufacturer warranty, and the most extended driving range on a full charge. Purchasing a new EV is also the only way to take advantage of government tax credits or incentives. On the flip side, electric vehicles are not cheap.

In 2021, the price of a new electric car was an average of $10,000 more than gas-powered rigs. The Hyundai Kona, for example, starts at $22,595 for the gas version of this small SUV, and the Kona EV starts at $34,000.

Used vehicles often help shoppers save a ton of money, and you can still find some good deals. The challenge is that older electric vehicles will not have the same capabilities or operating range as a newer model. You also will not get to take advantage of any tax credits.

6. What Kinds of Programs or Incentives Exist to Help Buy an EV?

At the moment, the federal government provides a one-time $7,500 tax credit for new EV purchases. Leases can still get a tax credit, but it is applied to the transaction price and lowers the monthly payments.

Once an automaker sells 200,000 EVs and/or plug-in hybrids, the tax credit changes. For example, Tesla was the first brand to hit this mark, so the tax credit dropped to $3.750 and then to $1,875. Today, shoppers who order a Tesla do not get any kind of tax break.

Some states and/or cities offer incentives to encourage people to purchase electric vehicles, and California has some of the country's most impressive grants, rebates, and incentives. Make sure to check with your local, county, and state governing bodies to learn about the most accurate programs in your area.

7. How Much Does It Cost to Insure an EV?

On average, EVs cost about 21% more to insure than gas-powered vehicles. It is essential to know that electric vehicles are built with the same safety designs and equipment as other non-electric vehicles. The rates are higher because electric cars are more costly to develop and have more expensive parts.

Make sure to shop for insurance quotes before buying your next EV to know precisely what you are signing up for.

8. How Much Does Maintenance Cost for an Electric Car?

When determining your budget for a new or used EV, you must consider more than just the car’s sticker price. You also have to account for insurance, the possibility of an electric vehicle charging station at home, and maintenance.

The good news is that the average cost for yearly maintenance on an EV is about $330 less than on a gas-powered car. Electric vehicles do not require regular service tasks like oil changes. Otherwise, the mechanical needs for an electric car are the same as for non-electric cars.

The bad news is that there still are not many mechanics with a lot of experience working on electric vehicles. Most manufacturers have programs to update their certified technicians, but it will be a while before every mechanic knows what to do with an electric motor.

The other challenge is that EV parts can be expensive. For example, an electric car’s battery can cost between $5,000 and $15,000 to replace, plus labor. While most EV batteries are designed to last for the car's life, damage in this area will undoubtedly set you back.

Are You Ready to Make the Leap?

Deciding to switch to an electric vehicle does not have to be overwhelming. While there is a lot to consider, it is a decision you will not regret. From lowering your annual fuel and maintenance costs to reducing your carbon footprint, electric vehicles offer a plethora of perks.

To ensure that you make a great decision, make sure to do your homework and consider all of the questions surrounding your purchase. Once you find your best-fit EV, you can be behind the wheel and on the road in no time.

If you are in Gilroy, CA, or the surrounding Santa Clara County area and still have questions, let Watsons Charging Stations & Electric be your guide. From installing a personalized charging station to helping with your electrical needs, we are here to serve you. Contact us to learn more today.