Power Matters

In our first blog in this series, we looked at the history of automotive power, gas, diesel, and electric, so now it's time to get to the heart of the matter-- which is the best option for you.

If only it were that easy.

The primary concern for most when purchasing an electric vehicle is the cost. While the investment in an electric-powered vehicle is important, the primary factor should be how the vehicle will be used.  For city driving in an area with ample charging stations, perhaps a dedicated spot in the office parking lot, an electric vehicle (EV) can seem like a wise choice initially. The average range of an electric vehicle on a single charge is safely 60 miles and, depending on the vehicle, up to 100 miles. Most EVs receive 20% of their full charge in about 2 hours making it possible for commutes with a charging station at both ends of the drive to make a 100-mile round trip comfortably. If the vehicle is going to need to be driven more than 50 miles round trip with no charger,  traditional vehicles fueled by gasoline or diesel may be the best initial decision, or perhaps a hybrid.

If an EV remains a strong possibility, cost becomes the next factor.  The Internal Revenue Service is offering a great incentive of $7,500 tax credit for first-owners of EVs purchased after 2009 and $2,500 on hybrids! It is easy to think that you will invest in an EV, plug it in at home at night, be ready to go the next day, and collect your associated credit when filing your taxes next year, but like we said, it’s not that easy. First you need to consider the charger; level one EV charging stations, the ones provided by vehicle manufacturers, plug in to traditional 110-volt outlets and fully charge a vehicle overnight. If you require faster charging, a level two charger providing 240-volt charging comes at an additional cost not only to purchase the charger, but also for additional hardware, permits, and other requirements for installing the recommended independent circuit for the charger. We recommend consulting a qualified electrician about these costs. 

The electricity needed to power an EV is the second cost factor to consider.  Current gas-engine vehicle drivers understand the fluctuation of gasoline prices but not the fluctuation of electricity which varies more widely than gasoline. As EV use becomes more widely available, it is likely that utility companies will follow the lead of California utility companies who have introduced a tiered pricing system that bases usage costs on the amount of energy used as well as the time it is used; charging your EV during off-peak hours, between midnight and 7 am, can mean smaller utility bills, but consider that you might need to charge up midday meaning a heftier price. Contact your local utility provider to ask about options for charging your future EV.

As with any vehicle, there are maintenance costs to consider. While an EV requires less maintenance than a gas-powered vehicle, the cost of battery replacement needs to be included in the cost of driving an EV along with the typical brakes, tires, and mechanical necessities.

If you think an electric vehicle might be a good option for you, do your research based on your personal goals for vehicle ownership. It is important to do your homework to find out typical costs such as depreciation and resale value when making a vehicle purchase; when deciding to purchase an electric vehicle, you must also consider the cost of charging the vehicle as opposed to fueling it with gasoline, any associated costs such as increased utility rates, contractors, and equipment, and the ability to charge as often as needed for your commute. We are happy to help you with your research if you think an electric vehicle might be right for you.

For more information visit the U.S. Department of Energy's online comparison site: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.shtml

Categories: New Inventory, Green, News