For people looking to protect the environment and save on gas, an electric vehicle may sound like a great option…until you look closer.
I’m all for protecting the environment. I like the idea of not having to depend on gasoline as well, particularly with prices that are still above $3 per gallon (based on national averages.) An electric vehicle sounds like a great way to bypass any “pain at the pump” we might feel.
I have driven a hybrid vehicle in my workplace. I once had to take a business trip to Charlotte and I used one of the station’s Priuses. (Or should that be Priuii?) Other than its very quiet operation — almost too quiet at times — I had no issues with the hybrid.
Well, I take that back: I had one issue. The person who checked out the Prius to me failed to mention one key little point about its automatic transmission. There’s no traditional gear shift. There’s a little joystick that lets you select from a few different gears. But one notable landing point is missing from that little joystick: Park. I had to stop at a gas station to fill up and realized as soon as I stopped at the pump that I didn’t know how to put the car in park. Fortunately, after what felt like an embarrassingly-long time, I spotted a little black button labeled P. As I recall, the button wasn’t immediately adjacent to the joystick. But at least I didn’t have to worry about the vehicle rolling away while I filled the tank.
I like the idea of a hybrid. It seems like a nice bridge from leaving traditional gas-powered vehicles to something more environmentally friendly. I’m all for that.
The electric vehicle, though, seems to be the rage…but not for me
The electric vehicle operates on an electric charge. No gas. Well, based on the short commute I face, saving gas is attractive, but we’re not talking about a huge expenditure every month.
But the charging is a potential problem. The condo complex I live in doesn’t have a charging station. So I’d have to find a charging station near me to make that work. That takes time. The U.S. Department of Transportation says charging times can vary dramatically, depending on the equipment. The slowest charging stations can take up to 50 hours to fully charge. The kind of charging stations people might have if they install them at their own home (which isn’t an option for me), could take one to two hours or four to 10 hours, depending on the type of electric vehicle you have.
Higher-speed charging stations can get your vehicle charged up to 80% in twenty minutes to an hour. Still, that’s up to an hour that you’re sitting there waiting for a charge.
I don’t know if electric vehicle batteries work the way mobile device batteries do, but aren’t we told that if we’re going to charge, we should charge all the way, not just up to “mostly” charge to extend the battery’s life?
Do electric vehicle batteries work that way? If they do, I wouldn’t want to settle for a partial charge.
Battery replacement costs scare the hell out of me
Battery health should be at the top of mind for anyone seriously considering electric vehicles. There are horror stories online about battery replacement costs of $20,000 or more. That, generally speaking, is far from true, according to VerifyThis.
But don’t relax too much: for most electric vehicles, battery replacement costs run from $2,000 to $10,000.
Those batteries might last 10 years. But in 10 years, will you have another $10,000 in the bank ready to use to buy a new battery on a 10-year-old car?
A 2018 study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that the average cost to fuel an electric car was $485 a year, compared to $1,117 for a gas-powered vehicle.
Over 10 years, the savings would amount to $6,320. But research showed electric vehicles cost about $10,000 more than gas-powered cars. To top it off, for the most efficient charging, you’d want to install a Level 2 charger at your home (which, as I said, isn’t always an option). That could cost you up to another $2,000.
Sure, there’s a $7,500 federal tax credit when you buy an electric vehicle. But to get that full amount, you have to owe at least $7,500 in taxes. Let’s say your federal tax burden was, say $5,000. You could claim a $5,000 credit, but you’d lose that additional $2,500.
If you figure the more expensive cost of an electric vehicle and installation of a charger at your home, then compare that against gas savings for 10 years and the federal tax credit, to break even on a $10,000 battery replacement after a decade, you’d have to have a federal tax burden of nearly $6,000.
And you’re still, at that point, putting a new battery in a 10-year-old vehicle and hoping everything else in that vehicle is running like brand new.
I love the idea of an electric vehicle. But as I see it, the math just doesn’t add up, yet.