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What to Consider Before Buying an Electric Car

We live in a plug ‘n’ play world: everything from toasters to phones recharges with electricity, and we don’t think twice about it.

Except when it comes to cars.

Until recently, electric cars were the anomaly, not mainstream transportation. But the internal combustion engine seems to be going the way of the horse and buggy. As entrepreneur Cyrus Nikou writes in his recent article, soon most of the world’s new passenger vehicles will be electric.

Of course, a lot depends on cost and availability. While electric vehicles may already be commonplace in major cities around the globe, less affluent areas, or those without charging infrastructure, will likely be slower to adopt the trend.

But it’s en route, says BloombergNEF, which reports that electric cars comprised 9 percent of all passenger car sales in 2021. While China and Europe dominate the market, U.S. sales are growing.

Leaving the ICE Age

If the internal combustion engine (ICE) will soon go the way of the dinosaur, does an electric car make sense for you now? Here are some vital points to consider before you shell out for an electric vehicle.

  • Know your acronyms. EVs (electric vehicles) aren’t a single category: HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs are all part of the mix. BEVs, or battery electric vehicles, are what most people think of as the typical electric car: they run on battery power alone. PHEVs, or plug-in hybrids, run on both gas and electric power. HEVs, or hybrid electric vehicles, feature a gas-powered engine and an electric motor, but they don’t plug in; you simply fill up the gas tank. Yes, it’s a trifle confusing.

The main advantage of a PHEV is its ability to travel longer on electricity alone than traditional hybrids that do not plug in. As the battery pack trickles down, the internal combustion engine takes over, a seamless power transition. BEVs, of course, get all their power from external electricity, with zero tailpipe emissions.

  • Know your charge-ability. If you’ve ever had the experience of driving a gas-powered car on a desolate highway with the needle verging on “E” and no gas station in sight, you’ll appreciate the importance of having an electric charging station available when you need one. Most electric vehicles can’t go as far on a full charge as a gas-powered vehicle can on a full tank of gas.

You can install a home charging station, and, if your employer has EV charging available, your car can charge while you’re at work so it’s ready for the ride home. If neither of these options exists, buying an EV becomes a bit more of a challenge. You may not be able to charge at home if you live in a condo or apartment, for example. While there are a growing number of public charging stations at places such as shopping malls and public parking lots, you still need to be able to get to one and leave your car there long enough for it to charge. These are all important aspects to consider prior to purchase.

  • Buy or lease? You know how fast technology is changing. Yesterday, AI was science fiction; today, chatGPT is writing better term papers than many students can. The same growth curve applies to the evolution of electric cars. Some experts say leasing is the preferred option because technology is advancing so rapidly that buying now could mean a worthless car when you’re ready to upgrade. However, manufacturers are offering purchase incentives to entice potential EV buyers. You may also be able to take advantage of tax credits that you’d forfeit by leasing.
  • Ask your peers. One excellent way to get a sense of whether and which electric vehicle is right for you is to participate in a consumer forum. Ask about others’ experiences, share your specific needs, and weigh the pros and cons of buying now vs. leasing, or waiting to see what enhancements manufacturers deliver within the next year or so.

The ICE age may be ending, but it’ll still take time for the snow to melt. In other words: while your gas-powered vehicle may be good to go for the foreseeable future, EV is the next wave.

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