Thanks to zero emissions and no fuel costs, 2017 saw a record number of electric vehicle sales, with this year’s sales expected to surpass those numbers as more American buyers seek the dream of a vehicle that doesn’t strain their pocketbook at the pump. But does the reality of an all-electric vehicle live up to the hype? Mr. Electric, a Neighborly company, helps you get a more realistic look at the pros and cons of electric cars (EVs).
Electric Car Pros and Cons: Which Ride’s For You?
Comparing the cost of a small electric vehicle, such as the Nissan Leaf, to a similarly sized smaller car, such as a Honda Civic, which car better protects the planet and truly helps you keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket?
- Vehicle Cost
Though prices continue to plummet, EVs still cost about $10,000 more than equivalent gas-powered cars: $29,900 for a Leaf, versus $19,640 for a Civic. This can be blamed on battery cost. Federal tax credits ($7,500) and some available by states try to ease the sting, but don’t entirely.
The value of EVs falls quickly, taking a huge depreciation hit when they drive off the lot, pushing many toward a used vehicle purchase or lease (where tax benefits do not apply). How much do they drop in value? $5,704 each year of ownership, based on AAA estimates, compared to about $2,114 for their gas-powered counterparts. As EV durability remains unproven, and battery replacement costs remain high, it leaves reason for purchasers to pause.
- Fuel/Power Cost
Electric cars may cost more on initial purchase, but they are significantly cheaper to fuel, costing about one-third less per mile to power. In dollars, it costs about $600 per year to power a Leaf, versus $1,050 to gas-up a Civic (though these figures fluctuate by region). But it takes longer to charge an EV than fill-up a gas tank: Eight to 12-hours for a 120-volt plug-in. Recharging could be faster, however, with an electrical upgrade, lowering charging time to 3-6 hours with a 240-volt installation. DC fast charging stations, available at some restaurants, office, and apartments can shorten this time to around 30-minutes.
Unlike accessibility to gas, EV charging stations are harder to find, making ‘range anxiety’ common. Though a number of EVs offer a range of over 100-miles, more than enough for a round-trip 30-mile commute, they’re not so great for the average road trip. Luckily charging stations are increasing in number annually in response to consumer favor for electric vehicles.
Fewer moving parts = less maintenance. Oil changes and tune-ups are unnecessary on an EV. Brakes last longer too, with the electric motor aiding in vehicle deceleration. However tire wear and wiper fluids are similar between gas/electric models. Cost comparison: The Leaf reported just $447 less in maintenance than the Civic over 5-years. But hold your horses, if you hold onto to your EV past the 8-year/100,000-mile mark (Nissan Leaf), a $5,499 replacement battery and installation costs could drag your wallet away.
- Environmental Impact
Auto technology is grand, but not always all it’s cracked up to be. With no tailpipe, the zero-emissions aura of EVs pulls on the heartstrings of the health and environmentally conscious. However heavy-metal-laden batteries outweigh the ‘green’ advantages for many. Batteries are harder to recycle than those in gas-powered cars, presenting ecological concerns. And cobalt, a prime ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, presents ethical challenges, mined by children in developing countries under hazardous conditions.
Overall, EVs are fast and fun, with responsive acceleration. The Telsa Model S boasts a 0-to-60 time of 2.5-seconds! (Though the Leaf does it in 8.) Cars are quiet as a whisper and run smoother than internal combustion models, making for a more enjoyable experience.
Adding an electric addition to your automobile family? Shorten charging times, ensuring safety and a seamless transportation transition with the help of Mr. Electric today.