Reasons to Buy an Electric Car
Steve Birkett is an electric vehicle advocate based in Greater Boston, Massachusetts. He is a content creator and marketing professional who contributes written and recorded pieces to a wide range of media outlets. His work has been featured in Find The Best Car Price and Torque News, among others. He has also had video content featured on Inside EVs. Birkett was an EV Guide for Plug in America events in Massachusetts (Drive Electric Cambridge and Drive Electric Lowell) and Ohio (Earth Day 2019 at Cleveland Zoo). He participates in quarterly advisory panel meetings for EVolve New York (a state-level charging initiative) and has contributed to focus groups for prominent U.S. charging networks.
Birkett is a father-of-two who loves nothing more than packing up the family and hitting the road in their latest electric car, which is currently a 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV. With a Chevy Volt and Tesla Model 3 LR in the extended family, plus various EV rentals when he ventures back home to his native United Kingdom, Birkett has more than 60,000 all-electric miles under his belt and is always ready to try out a new electric vehicle.
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Electric cars have been on the road for more than a decade now, but they remain a small fragment of overall vehicle purchases. At around two percent of the US market, is it still too early to be looking at an EV? On the contrary!
The current stage of EV adoption marks a moment where improving range and charging networks meet remaining incentives and early adopter benefits. Although EV technology will continue to get better, there are many good reasons to buy an electric car as soon as possible.
In this article, we’ll unpack four reasons to do just that.
Table of Contents
Why Should I Buy an Electric Car?
First and foremost, let’s establish why EVs are attracting so much interest.
With new electric car deals popping up every month, we’re finally starting to see enough options in the marketplace for buyers to compare models across different categories and price points. The low running costs and minimal maintenance are attractive starting points. As range per charge pushes towards 300 miles and batteries prove their longevity, many of the lingering concerns about making the jump to all-electric transportations have faded.
With only a couple of hurdles left to overcome, such as charging time and the limited availability of certain models in some regions, the case for considering an electric vehicle now is stronger than ever. But with the technology changing so quickly, shouldn’t the judicious car buyer wait until the sector settles down?
Reasons to Buy an EV As Soon As You Can
Although that might be appropriate for some drivers, there are several advantages to taking the plunge now. These include:
- The sooner you buy, the sooner you start saving.
- Incentives won’t last forever.
- Early adopter benefits are temporary.
- Workplaces are adding charging.
Let’s take a look at each of these advantages in greater detail.
Start Saving Today
The cost savings involved with electric cars are not overstated. With the right combination of frequent use and finding inexpensive charging options, it’s not uncommon to see running costs of just a few cents per mile and annual maintenance expenses that barely touch the triple digits.
It follows, then, that the sooner you purchase an EV, the quicker you can start realizing those savings.
Despite the unusually low gas prices that some areas have seen recently, what we pay at the pump can hardly be described as stable. All it takes is a contraction in global supply or logistical complications to cause gas prices to spike again.
Electricity has a much broader and stable supply base. In most cases, this is a fuel type that is sourced domestically, getting cleaner and cheaper as new methods of generation and storage techniques evolve. EV drivers already benefit from these low prices across the country. If you live in an area with abundant hydroelectricity or a municipal power company, it’s not unusual to see rates fall well below $0.10 per kWh. That fills up a 250-mile electric vehicle for less than six bucks!
Away from the gas station and into the service center, there are more reasons to buy an electric car soon. Never paying for another oil change is one, while the minimal wear and tear on brake pads, fewer moving parts, and limited routine maintenance all add to the expenses you can strike from the auto/transport column of your monthly budget.
Put simply, the sooner you get into an electric car, the more these savings start to accumulate.
Expiring EV Incentives
Another reason to buy an electric car in the near future is the uncertain fate of tax incentives for these vehicles. Most potential EV buyers are aware of the $7,500 federal tax credit, but what you might not know is that it has already expired for popular EV makers like Tesla and General Motors. With the popular Leaf model in its stable, Nissan is not far behind hitting the phase out period, which is triggered when a manufacturer sells more than 200,000 EVs.
Although credits phasing out can last up to 15 months, the amount available for EV buyers to claim against their tax burden is cut in half twice during this period. Acting fast to get an electric car means a greater chance of zeroing out that tax bill when April rolls around. Then there’s the continuing political uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand with EV incentives. Lawmakers could decide to adjust or even remove the federal credit if it’s decided that incentives have played their role, meaning anyone late to the game could find the price they budgeted for their favorite new electric model suddenly jumps by $7,500.
The situation is similar with state-level incentives, which can wipe a further $1,000 to $5000 (here’s looking at you, New Jersey!) off the final price of buying an electric car. Again, these rebates tend to come under scrutiny every year, so it makes sense to scoop them up now if you’re confident an EV fits your lifestyle.
Early Adopter Benefits
Less well known, but no less valuable to potential EV buyers, are the many quietly-kept advantages of getting in early on this new technology. These vary greatly by area and other factors, such as who provides your power and how local municipalities are managed, but they’re great fun to find as you start out life with an electric car.
First and foremost, complimentary charging is an experience that never gets old. While a gas pump only reads $0 before you begin to pump, there are locations across the country that offer free charging as a perk to encourage EV drivers to visit, stay, or shop with them. In fact, there’s an entire network, Volta Charging, dedicated to proving that advertising revenue alone can support the free charge stations it installs. Add in new networks offering complimentary fast charging during trial periods, or manufacturers like Volkswagen providing three years of unlimited juice via Electrify America for those who buy a VW ID.4, and we can quickly see how driving costs for EV owners fall as low as two to three cents per mile.
Beyond that, some organizations provide even more benefits for drivers who jump on the EV bandwagon early enough. Utilities, for example, may offer preferential electricity rates for charging your electric car at certain times. Others go so far as to offer free electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) for drivers who are willing to share their charging data and habits with them. These are usually part of trial programs, however, and won’t last forever.
Other tangential benefits of buying an electric car include preferential parking when charging in busy areas like city centers, avoidance of regulatory costs associated with emissions testing, and access to HOV lanes or clean air zones.
As with any new tech, many of these initial adopter benefits will be snatched away as more drivers go electric and EVs become the norm. Until then, buying an electric car right away is very much a case of the early bird catches the worm. Check out some of the most affordable electric cars to watch out for.
If your employer offers electric car charging - or if you think they’d be receptive to doing so - your case to buy an EV soon just got a lot stronger. Unlike inexpensive public charging, which can become a free-for-all as more electric vehicles fill the market, workplace charging tends to be more selective, ensuring it’s more accessible for those permitted to use it. It can also expand with the EV population at the office, assuming your employer is committed to the idea.
As a job perk, providing EV charging is extremely compelling. For the employer, it checks off boxes such as recruitment incentives, sustainability goals, and increased employee satisfaction. For the employee, it can mean a reliable place to charge that fits within their established routine, which is especially beneficial for apartment dwellers, or anyone who finds home charging too challenging or expensive to install. Even if it’s not free, the expense often falls far below what it would cost to install a home charging solution.
Although any employer committed to workplace charging is unlikely to take it away, the quicker a driver is able to plug in at work, the more money they’ll save in the long run. And if you need to convince your boss that this is an affordable incentive, analysis by ChargePoint finds that EV charging ranks right up with providing coffee as an inexpensive perk, as well as offering some best practices for workplaces that are ready to go electric.
So, should you rush to buy an electric car as your next vehicle?
If you prefer to wait for new technology to work out all the kinks, a plug-in hybrid might be the best option. But if you’re all about the savings and want to squeeze every last drop of value out of your car, purchasing an EV sooner will ensure you don’t miss out on the early benefits and electric vehicle tax incentives we’ve covered above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I buy an electric car?
With new electric car deals popping up every month, we’re finally starting to see enough options in the marketplace for buyers to compare models across different categories and price points. The low running costs and minimal maintenance are attractive starting points. With only a couple of hurdles left to overcome, such as charging time and the limited availability of certain models in some regions, the case for considering an electric vehicle now is stronger than ever.
What are some reasons to buy an EV?
A few of the top reasons to buy an EV are:
- Sooner you buy, the sooner you start saving
- Tax incentives and rebates are around for a limited time
- Early adopter benefits are temporary or capped
- More workplaces are adding the ability to charge EVs
Can I save money by buying an electric car?
The sooner you purchase an EV, the quicker you can start realizing those savings. Apart from the savings from a more stable fuel source, there is far less maintenance and running costs associated with an EV.
What are some benefits to becoming an early adopter of electric vehicles?
Some of the benefits for being an early adopter are preferential parking, no emissions testing required, and access to HOV lanes or clear air zones.
Should I rush to buy an electric car?
If you prefer to wait for new technology to work out all the kinks, a plug-in hybrid might be the best option. But if you’re all about the savings and want to squeeze every last drop of value out of your car, purchasing an EV sooner will ensure you don’t miss out on the early benefits.
Are there tax incentives available for electric cars?
Yes, you can get up to $7,500 in federal tax credit for certain EV models. But it's important to note that this tax incentive is already expired for popular EV makers like Tesla and General Motors. Rebates are updated every year, so it makes sense to get them now while you still can. Learn more about what electric car tax incentives are still available.