With the national average for a gallon of gasoline stuck above $4, some Americans might be ready to go electric.
Searches for “green vehicles” on Edmunds.com jumped 39% in the past month as fuel prices soared. Battery electric vehicles totaled 2.6% of new vehicle purchases in 2021, according to Edmunds, and that number could rise to 4% this year.
“People are very frustrated with gas prices right now and are looking for alternatives,” Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive news director, told ABC News. “In 2008 – the last time we saw a significant consumer reaction to gas prices – people opted for smaller vehicles. The dialogue is now about electric vehicles, not about downsizing.”
Electric vehicles, however, come at a steep price. The average transaction price for a new electric vehicle was $60,054 in February compared to $45,596 for the industry average, according to Edmunds.
“It’s a big commitment to get into an EV. These are luxury-priced products,” Cox Automotive chief economist Charlie Chesbrough told ABC News.
Even so, “many vehicle buyers will consider electric vehicles and whether they meet their family’s needs. Nothing makes Americans more upset than seeing high gas prices,” he said.
So if you’re a new EV owner and intrigued by these quiet battery-powered machines, here’s what you need to know before you unplug internal combustion engines.
Mark Wakefield, managing director of AlixPartners, said owning an electric vehicle is a “bigger change” for a consumer than downsizing an engine or vehicle. But ICE vehicles have more parts and require more assembly, which translates into higher maintenance costs.
Chad Kirchner, editor of the EV Pulse website, noted that EV drivers who are adept at one-pedal driving (letting off and on the throttle) rarely use the brake pedal.
Replacing brakes “is a maintenance cost you don’t have to worry about as an electric vehicle owner,” Kirchner told ABC News. Plus, “when you release the accelerator and let the car roll, you recharge the battery,” he said.
And electric vehicle batteries can last a decade or more, Car and Driver editor John Voelcker pointed out.
“The batteries are designed to last the life of a car – with some loss of range,” he told ABC News. “Leaving the car plugged in for a week will not impact the battery. Do not expect to replace the battery in the first 10 years.”
Voelcker said a vehicle’s range — the number of miles an electric vehicle can travel on a full charge — decreases as the battery ages. But automakers are improving to reduce range degradation.
“Under the worst circumstances, maybe 30% of a vehicle’s range will take a hit” over 10 to 15 years, he said.
Motorists who live in colder climates can also expect less range as the mercury drops.
“Cold weather heat is a range killer. You can lose up to a third of your rated range if you get heat blast,” Voelcker said. “Heat and, to a lesser extent, air conditioning affect your range more than a gas-powered vehicle.”
Electric vehicle repairs (plus oil changes and air filter replacements!) can cost $330 less than a gas-powered car, or a savings of $949 per year, according to a AAA study by 2020.
Tesla and General Motors have sold more than 200,000 electric vehicles in the United States since 2010, meaning new buyers of Teslas or GM’s Bolt or Hummer EV pickups are no longer eligible for tax credit savings, which phase out after an automaker hits the federal sales limit of 200,000.
Consumers still have a choice of a range of electric vehicles (including plug-in hybrids) to receive a tax credit of up to $7,500; nearly every automaker now produces an eligible electric vehicle. It is important to note, however, that any tax credit only applies to new EV purchases; leases are not eligible.
EV owners who claim the $7,500 reduction may not get the full credit; the owner’s tax liability must total at least $7,500 for the year of vehicle purchase.
The driving experience
Do you like to hear the crackles, pops and growls of a powerful engine? In this case, an electric vehicle may not be the right choice. EVs are completely silent unless driven at speeds below 18.6 mph to warn pedestrians and cyclists. Automakers have also largely refused to pump “artificial” ICE sounds into the cabin.
But not hearing the constant engine noise makes for a calmer, more peaceful ride, Voelcker said.
Another advantage of electric vehicles is instant acceleration. “There’s no transmission shifting, just a simple smooth power surge. You get maximum torque from zero rpm,” he said.
One-pedal riding, however, can take some practice and patience. Some EVs are equipped with a vehicle creep feature that allows the vehicle to automatically stop when the brake pedal is released, mimicking the feel of an ICE.
“It’s good to get in the car and not to drive on one pedal…it can be weird to get used to,” Kirchner said.
Voelcker added: “You learn to modulate the throttle and literally drive with one foot. Electric cars can drive just like regular cars with automatic transmissions.”
Matt Stover, director of charging, energy services and business development at Ford, agreed that single-pedal driving can be surprising at first. Now, when he drives the Mustang Mach-E SUV, Ford’s first electric vehicle, he only presses the brake pedal in an emergency. He also noted that 70% of Mustang Mach-E customers are new to Ford, with the majority being new to the whole electric vehicle spectrum. Ford sold 63,683 Mach-Es worldwide in 2021.
“The SUV brings new customers to the brand,” he told ABC News.
According to government data, more than 80% of EV battery charging is done at home. Owners can plug in their vehicle at night and expect a full charge in the morning. Apartment dwellers will need to look for public charging stations dotted along highways and malls. Rural communities are also disadvantaged; Automakers and electric vehicle network operators are actively building stations to meet demand in these areas.
Homeowners can opt for a 110-volt cord or have an electrician install a hardwired 240-volt outlet in a garage for even faster charging (as little as 20 minutes depending on model and battery type).
“People have misconceptions about recharging. Because we don’t have gas pumps at home, we don’t think about filling up a car at home overnight,” Voelcker said. . “Installing a charging station is the same circuit as a clothes dryer but a bit more powerful. You’re not installing a nuclear reactor.”
For customers who purchase or lease a 2022 Bolt EUV or Bolt EV, Chevrolet will cover standard in-home installation of a powerful Level 2 charging outlet.
Ford’s Stover said owners of electric vehicles should first consider the size of the vehicle’s battery – a larger battery provides longer range but takes longer to charge – and the type of battery. experience they want. Every Mach-E comes with a mobile charging cord that can provide 120-volt power.
“It’s not a great day-to-day experience,” Stover acknowledged. However, many Mach-E owners use that mobile cord when traveling, he said, and find electric vehicle charging stations through the Ford Pass app.
Ford is also providing all Mach-E customers with 250 kW of free public fast charging through Electrify America (approximately five full charges) and customers also have access to the company’s BlueOval charging network, a public charging network with over 70,000 chargers.
Kirchner said the FordPass app, along with the My Porsche app and the Volvo On Call app, are incredibly useful for EV owners who need to charge away from home and keep an eye on charging status. of a vehicle. But it’s Tesla that has the best trip-planning functionality, he argued.
“You enter a destination and the car will tell you where you need to stop to recharge and how long it will take,” he said. “It’s really powerful for reducing litter anxiety.”
At the end of the line
For those strongly debating whether to buy an electric vehicle, “the silver lining is that vehicle prices have gone up so much, which makes the cost of electric vehicles relatively cheaper,” Chesbrough said.
Ongoing chip shortages and supply constraints have disrupted production of all vehicles, so it can be difficult to find an electric vehicle for sale. New models are coming, with at least 20 new vehicles expected to hit dealerships this year, Chesbrough noted.
And for consumers still ambivalent about range, Kirchner said a vehicle with at least 250 miles is enough to run errands or get to the office.
“The reality is most people charge at home and you don’t need 300 to 400 miles of range,” he said. “Now is a good time to be excited about electric vehicles.”