Before you go electric, you’ll have to do your research.
Just like every other big decision you make in your life, swapping to an electric car requires a hard look at you lifestyle, including your finances, preferences, and living situation. It can be pretty overwhelming, but before you give up, we’re here to help!
We’ve broken down the ICE to EV conversion process into four simple steps in order to help you decide if you’re ready to go electric, if you might need a middle step, or if an ICE is the practical option for you right now.
Welcome to Alternative Power Week! In honor of Earth Day, we’re going to spend the next several days diving into the nitty-gritty of the new, eco-friendly technology powering the vehicles of the future to keep you informed on all the latest changes in the automotive industry. If you have any questions or ideas for a future article, leave your ideas in the comments!
How Much Will It Cost?
There are a lot of cost-related situations to consider when buying an EV:
- The list price of an electric vehicle is often higher than its ICE counterpart.
- There are also federal and state tax incentives that will cut down on the outright cost.
- Insurance is generally higher for electric vehicles.
- You will generally have to perform less maintenance on EVs, since they don’t have pesky engines.
- Electricity often costs less than gasoline.
- You may need to install an effective at-home charger if you don’t live near one.
The outright cost of the vehicle will, of course, depend on other factors, like how many seats you need, what body style you prefer, and how much luxury you want.
But it’s also important to evaluate cost based on where you live. Maintenance costs for EVs may not be high in a more populated area, for example, but if you live in the middle of nowhere and only have access to a single EV mechanic, your quick trip to fix the infotainment system could cost more than you expect.
And then there’s the cost of charger installation. A Level 1 charger can cost under $750 depending on where you live, but if you need something more powerful, you could be shelling out upwards of $10,000. Some states include tax credits and utility incentive systems that will bring down the cost, but again: it all depends on where you live. Make sure you’re well aware of any charger installation-related costs before buying electric.
What Range Do I Need?
How far do you drive in a day? Do you take care of your work at home and use your car for a few daily trips to the store or to pick up the kids from school? Do you have a painfully long commute? Are you keen on road trips? These will all impact whether or not you should go electric, and what model to buy if you do.
A great way to determine range needs is to start tracking your mileage. Keep a log of how many miles you travel each day to see what your general needs are. Then, keep a log of how far you travel when taking a longer road trip. If you drive 200 miles every other weekend to see grandma, you need to know!
Basically, you should be able to handle most, if not all, of your daily driving on one fully-charged battery. This metric takes into consideration the fact that you may not have access to a charger at your workplace, or that any charger you have access to is a Level 1 or 2.
Where Do You Live?
Location concerns go far beyond noting whether or not you live in a rural area that may have few chargers. If you live in a more extreme climate with dramatic hot waves or cold snaps, it’s important to know that that will take a noticeable toll on the range. If you live in the mountains, that’s also going to have an impact.
One study showed that most EVs perform at their best—as in, above expected range—around 70 degrees Fahrenheit but that you can expect your range to be about expected from 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a climate that sees hotter or colder temperatures than 50 to 90 degrees, you’ll start losing range. That’s because it not only takes more effort for the car to regulate its battery temperatures, but you’re more likely to be running the air conditioning or heat.
But you do, of course, need to consider the population density and availability of of charging in your area. If you’re more rural, for example, the likelihood you’ll need to purchase an at-home charger goes up. And you’ll have to make sure you can get your day’s driving in on one charge before heading home.
What Kind of Car Are You Looking For?
While the electric options are slowly growing, you still can’t guarantee that you’ll find your ideal car in your price range. For example, you still can’t go to a dealership and find a pickup truck (the Tesla Cybertruck and the GMC Hummer Truck are still on the horizon). It can be tough to find an upper-scale SUV without breaking the bank. And if you’re, say, a certified Miata fan, you’re going to have to compromise.
That isn’t to say there aren’t options here; you’re just dealing with a new technology and therefore a much smaller niche of options to choose from. So if you have a penchant for a specific make, model, or size, you may have to alter your expectations to nab a solid BEV.
What if I’m In Between?
It can still be rare to find someone who is fully ready to go electric—but plenty of people are open to the idea. That’s where plug-in hybrids come in. PHEVs offer all the benefits of an EV without the downsides of range anxiety or having to commit to the polar opposites of either EV or ICE. You’ll likely be able to do most of your driving in a day with full electricity while also having the capability of quickly filling up the gas tank on a longer trip.