What It Really Costs To Own An Electric Car

What It Really Cost To Own An Electric Car
Photo: Volkswagen

Electric cars are all the rage right now—but are they worth it?

But for as many people who make the swap to electric, countless others are left wondering if it’s really worth it. Sure, you don’t have to pay for gas, but you still have to pay for a charge. Then there’s the fact that the battery only lasts for so many miles and takes so long to charge. And so many electric cars are either tiny or way out of my price range.

Recently, though, Volkswagen hosted a virtual meeting on what it really costs to own an electric car as part of a way to promote their ID.4, and it opened my eyes to a lot of the benefits and cost savings that I didn’t even know existed.

There are plenty of incentives.

Auto makers want you to buy their cars, and plenty of states are encouraging their populations to go electric as a way to combat climate change. So, when you’re looking into buying an electric car, do your research on things like:

  • Federal tax incentives
  • State tax incentives, which vary by state but can generally be applied on top of federal incentives
  • How much you’ll save on fuel, which you can calculate on ChargeHub or GoUltraLow, among other sites
  • The benefits of installing your own charging station at home versus using a public charger (Level 2 charging stations, for example, can cost up to $6,000 for installation, not including the added cost on your electric bill, but that could be a good investment if you have a gas guzzler)
  • Free charging incentives from automakers

When you look at the cost of an electric car, remember that you can chop a few thousand dollars off of it as a result of the incentives. If you buy the ID.4, for example, you can likely get a few thousand dollars off—and VW is throwing in an added bonus of three years of free charging at all Electrify America charging stations.

Not all of the benefits are quite as obvious. Battery-powered cars require fewer parts than your internal combustion engined cars, which means you may save money on maintenance because there are fewer parts that can break. Battery packs can and will wear out, but most automakers also offer replacements within five to eight years of purchase as part of their warranty. Even if that pack replacement isn’t covered, a growing number of electric cars means that battery packs are more readily available and therefore less expensive to replace. As this becomes a growing issue, we might see states stepping up to offer incentives for pack replacements as well.

What It Really Cost To Own An Electric Car

Photo: Volkswagen

Electric cars can still be used for road trips

My road trips are never short: I drive all over the country, and I usually drive a couple thousand miles with each trip. The gas costs might add up, but I can be confident that I’ll be able to power up any time I need to.

But Volkswagen is confident that you’ll still be able to road trip. It’s likely that you’ll have to switch up your attitude toward driving: plan in some longer breaks to recharge, limit your aggressive driving, and ensure there are charging points along the way.

The charging network is growing across the United States, with plenty of apps and websites available to tell you both the location of charging ports and whether or not those ports are occupied, like PlugShare, OpenChargeMap, and ChargeHub. A quick look at any of the maps shows that it’s really easy to find a charging port on the East Coast, California, and throughout much of the Midwest. You won’t find quite as many ports in sparsely populated states like, say, North Dakota or Montana—but even those states contain charging points at regular intervals along the main interstate highways.

Volkswagen really wants to prove that you can—and should!—take the VW ID.4 out across the country. That’s why it’s offering those three years of free charging. You can go out and find your footing.

What It Really Cost To Own An Electric Car

Photo: Volkswagen

The VW ID.4 doesn’t skimp on size.

One thing that really impressed me about the VW ID.4 was the size of the vehicle. The ID.4 sits squarely in the middle of the compact SUV segment, size-wise. It is 4.6 inches shorter than the Volkswagen Tiguan, at 180.5 inches, with a 0.9 inch shorter wheelbase at 108.9 inches. It is 1.9 inches lower than Tiguan at 64.4 inches high for the rear-wheel drive model, and 0.5 inches wider, at 72.9 inches.

What does that mean for you? It means you’ll have space for a growing family, or just a little extra room for you and a partner to spread out. Lots of EVs have been tiny, designed for urban travel and not much else. Now, you can rest easy knowing that you have the space for two kids and some luggage for wherever you need to go.

Related: 8 Reasons an EV Can Fit Your Lifestyle

What It Really Cost To Own An Electric Car

Photo: Volkswagen

What It Really Costs To Own An Electric Car

Below is a comparison of mid-sized SUV’s. You can see that the VW ID.4 is very affordable, especially when you add in the free 3 years of charging. And when compared to other electric vehicles, it really shines as an affordable vehicle for families, couples. Because of the sleek look, I think it will be very popular in the millennial world, too.

Related: The Ford Mustang Mach-E: A Digital Native’s Electric Dream

Pricing for the ID.4 starts at $39,995, for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro (available in the first quarter of 2021), before a potential federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is applied. With those credits, the entry price of ID.4 is on par with the 2021 Tiguan SEL.  For highly qualified customers through Volkswagen Credit, the monthly lease payment for a 36-month lease with 10,000 miles a year, is $379 per month with $3,579 due at signing, excluding tax, title, license, options and dealer fees.

Starting later in 2021, the ID.4 AWD Pro ($43,675) will be available. Both Pro models carry largely the same equipment, with AWD models putting out 302 hp, and adding a heated windshield and tow hitch. These models can be additionally outfitted with two packages—Statement ($4,500), and Gradient ($1,500), which is only offered with Statement.

Related: Future Cars: 13 Trends That Will Change Your Life Now

What It Really Cost To Own An Electric Car

Photo: Volkswagen

The VW ID.4 Was Rated In The Top 5 EV Vehicles By AutoGuide

The VW ID.4 is in great company when it comes to being in the top 5 EV vehicles of 2021, according to AutoGuide. The price of the VW puts it at the top of the list for me.

The other 4 EV vehicles that are in the top 5 EV vehicles are:

  • Mustang Mach E price ranges from $43,995 – $61,600.
  • Audi Q4 e-tron is priced around $66,995 and is set to go on sale in early 2021.
  • VW ID.4 price ranges from $39,995 – $43,675 and goes on sale early 2021.
  • Nissan Ariya is priced from $40,000 and is set to go on sale late 2021 in the US.
  • Rivian R1S starts around $65,000 and will rival the Tesla. It will go on sale in early 2021.

The fact of the matter is, you shouldn’t let a bigger price tag scare you away from an EV. America is steadily growing to accommodate these machines, both in terms of charging infrastructure and tax incentives that slash the price right from the get-go. There will be a little adjustment period, but you can rest easy knowing you won’t run into any hidden costs when you go electric.

What It Really Costs To Own An Electric Car

Photo: Volkswagen


For over a decade, lifestyle expert Adeina Anderson has been a nationally trusted source of information on travel tips,... More about Adeina Anderson