Your current car is getting a bit long in tooth and it’s time when you would normally be looking to replace it. Don’t buy another gas car! Some of you won’t let “them” pry a gas car from your cold dead fingers. However, many of the rest of us are open to the idea of an electric car. Some of you just don’t think one would work for you. If you are dead set on pulling a big boat 500 miles to Lake Powell on a regular basis, or taking a 45 ft travel trailer on a cross country trip, you are correct. However, for everyone else, an electric vehicle would not only work for you, but it’s a much better vehicle and you will love it. Besides, we are approaching the time when gas vehicles will fall out of favor, new sales will be banned or just fade away, and the resale value of your gas vehicle will drop to nearly zero. Ever try to sell a tube TV after flatscreen TVs had taken over the market?
The top two reasons for thinking an EV is out of the question for you are most likely these: you think there aren’t enough charging stations, and you think EVs don’t have enough range. If you buy an EV, your primary charging station will be in your garage. If you buy a Tesla, its fabulous Supercharger network along all the Interstate highways makes long-distance driving no more complicated than driving a gas car. Ford has just signed onto Tesla’s Supercharger network as well, so you are no longer restricted to buying a Tesla for a good long-distance travel car. With other brands, more planning is required for long trips. There are also backroad excursions far from the Interstate highways that would require some research and perhaps an overnight stay at a hotel with a destination charger. However, the federal government’s Inflation Reduction Act has $5 billion to upgrade the national charging network, so even that problem should go away over the next few years.
If you think range would be an issue, think again. Some electric cars, like the Tesla Model S, now have a range of more than 400 miles, which is much longer than most people’s preferred stops for bathroom breaks. There are also plenty of other brands now which have a range of longer than 300 miles, and almost every EV has a range of more than 200 miles. (If you drove 200 miles a day on weekdays and didn’t drive at all on weekends, that would be 52,000 miles a year. That’s about 4 times the national average.)
If you are thinking EVs are too expensive, think again. The full $7,500 federal government tax credit for electric vehicles is now available for the least expensive Tesla Model 3 ($40,240), the similarly priced Volkswagen ID.4, ($38,995 MSRP), and the even cheaper Chevy Bolt ($26,500 MSRP) and Chevy Bolt EUV ($27,800 MSRP). With the full federal government tax credit plus the state tax rebate (in many states), a Tesla Model 3 can now be $30,000 or less. In Colorado, the subsidy has just been raised to $5,000. So, in Colorado you can buy a luxury Tesla for essentially $27,000, only $10,000 more than a Toyota Yaris econobox.
However, note that you have to have a $7,500 IRS federal tax obligation in the tax year that you buy the car — or whatever your tax obligation is below that is your max tax credit. Also, you don’t get the refund at the point of sale — you need to wait to file your taxes. One way handle this if you have a good credit rating: put $7,500 of the purchase price as a charge on a credit card, and then many cards offer free balance transfers with 0% interest for up to 18 months for a new credit card application. Before the balance is due, you will have your tax refund and can pay off the credit card. If you lease your car from Tesla, you can get the government rebate at the time of sale.
List of electric vehicles on the market or coming soon
If you are thinking the model you want is not available, think again. In a quick survey, I found that 41 different models of EVs from 20 different brands are available this year in the US, with another two coming in 2024 and others later. EVs range from small budget cars as low $20,000 (with the government subsidy) to large sedans and SUVs that seat 6 or 7 people to full size pickup trucks from Rivian and Ford (and soon Chevrolet).
They now make the EV model you want and you may be able to stay with your favorite brand!
EV availability was a problem as late as last year, but the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck has been in production for over a year now, the startup Rivian has been making pickups for over a year as well, and many other vehicle types are available — almost all other vehicle types. Rivian makes a pure electric SUV on the same chassis as its pickup that is similar to a Ford Excursion or other large SUV. If you want to go with a traditional Tesla SUV, the Model X will seat 6 in three rows of captain chairs with plenty of foot room for adults in all rows. You can also get the Model X with seating for 7. Then there are smaller electric SUVs like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model Y, Nissan Ariya, etc.
See the EVs I found below that are available in 2023:
- Tesla: Model 3, Model Y, Model S, Model X, Cybertruck, & Semi
- Ford: Mustang Mach-E & F-150 Lightning
- GM: Hummer, Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV, and Cadillac Lyric
- Rivian: R1S and R1T
- Volkswagen: ID.4
- Nissan: LEAF and Ariya
- BMW: i4, iX
- Polestar: 2
- Porsche: Taycan
- Mercedes: EQE, EQB, and EQS
- Audi: e-tron (various versions)
- Genesis: G80 and GV70
- Jaguar: I-Pace
- Lucid: Air
- Volvo: C40 and XC40
- Mini: Cooper SE
- Hyundai: Ioniq 5, Ioniq 6, and Kona Electric
- Kia: EV6 and EV9
- Subaru: Soltara
- Toyota: bZ4X
On the market in 2024:
- Tesla: $25,000 car and shuttle car
- Aptera: hyper-low coefficient of friction, solar 3-wheel car with 500 mile range
More details on charging an EV
Where will I refuel? Only farmers and rural residents can have a gasoline refueling tank on their property. Safety & zoning laws prevent gas tank installations in cities. However, with an EV, you will do most of your refueling in your garage.
There are three levels of charging for EVs: Level 1 (L1), Level 2 (L2), and Level 3 (L3).
L1: Any normal 110V outlet anywhere. Obviously, these are much more ubiquitous than gas stations. However, L1 is very slow. You get ~4 miles of range per hour. 110V charging is useful only if you are able to take a day or two to charge your car. We have friends with a top-of-the-line EV who make do with L1 charging. They make cross-country trips using Superchargers, but they don’t do much local driving and have a second car.
Note: My Model 3 came with the EVSE cable needed to charge with a 110V or NEMA 14-50 outlet. New Tesla owners need to purchase a $200 Mobile Charging Cable.
L2: 220V charging that most EV owners have in their garage, carport, or driveway. When I took my EV to Northern Wisconsin for the first time, I called an electrician to see if I had 220V service in my standalone garage and to schedule charging installation — 20 minutes and $130 later, he had installed a NEMA 14-50 outlet in my garage and I was good to go. L2 charges your vehicle at ~24 miles of range per hour. If you have L2, you start every morning with a full charge. If you make a longer trip in the morning, you may need to charge for a few hours before doing it again in the afternoon. For local driving, your “gas station” is in your garage. It’s as easy as charging your cellphone. Also, you never need an oil change or emissions check. In Utah, your first mandatory state vehicle check is after 4 years for mechanical issues.
L3 (DC fast charging): L3 direct current charging ranges from 50 to 350 kW in the US. Tesla has over 1500 of its 150–250 kW Superchargers out there today, with 12,000 stalls spaced at 70 to 130 miles on all the major Interstate highways and in major cities in the US. A Supercharger will charge your Tesla from 20% to 80% state of charge in about 20 minutes. Note: I do 500 cross country miles per day in my EV (the same as I did in my gas-mobile). However, if you are driving “nonstop” across the country, an EV will slow you down a bit. Remember: The Tesla Model S has 405 miles of range and the rest of the Tesla lineup has versions with ranges of up to ~350 miles.
Why not a plugin hybrid?
At first glance, a plugin hybrid would be a good way you could gradually transition to an EV. With up to 50 miles of EV range, you could do 90% of your driving on electricity. You plug in at home and at work, and only on longer trips would you ever use gas.
A plugin hybrid is an especially bad choice for someone who doesn’t have easy access to charging at home and work. The buyer takes advantage of the government subsidy on purchase but may rarely charge the car and then it runs almost entirely on gas.
Double the powertrains, double the trouble. A big advantage to an EV is the simplicity of the electric motor drivetrain, and leaving all the complexity of an internal combustion engine behind. With a plugin hybrid, you get the problems that may arise with the electric drivetrain and battery plus you have all the fueling, oil changes, emissions inspections, and maintenance problems that go with a gas car. It doesn’t seem worth it.
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