While the idea of driving an electric car can be appealing to many of us, the reality of what this entails is still relatively unclear to a number of people. This guide attempts to add clarity and make it easier to decide if an electric vehicle is the right choice for you.

Is an EV right for me?

If you drive less than 40 miles each way to work and can either install a charging station at home or use one at work then an electric vehicle can be a strong option.

How much money can I save?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an average electric vehicle (EV) takes $3.74 worth of electricity to travel 100 miles. (This assumes the vehicle is being charged at night when electricity costs are lower.) A traditional gas vehicle would cost $13.36 to fuel for the same distance. If you drive 12,000 miles per year this translates to $1,154 per year in savings. However, as we’ll discuss below, the MSRP for electric vehicles can be significantly higher than their gas equivalents.

Is an electric car actually better for the environment?

Yes. EVs have no tailpipe emissions. While the electricity used to charge the vehicle does have emissions this is usually far less than a comparable gas vehicle. In regions with “clean” electricity grids like California, EVs are responsible for less global warming than any other vehicle including hybrids.

The environmental impact of producing electric vehicles is known to be greater, but this is offset by their lower carbon footprint throughout their driving lifetime. A 2011 study by Renault looked at the lifetime environmental cost of an electric car vs. its diesel and gasoline counterparts and found that the electric version had lower overall carbon emissions even in heavily coal-dependent regions.

Do I need to install a home charger?

Yes. Technically, electric vehicles can be charged using a standard three –pronged household outlet (known as Level 1 charging), but in reality, this can take around 20 hours per charge. Installing a home charger will cut this down significantly. Car charging stations (Level 3 chargers) are available at Home Depot or Amazon and average between $500 and $1,000. We strongly recommend having your charger installed professionally which can cost approximately the same amount depending on the specifics of the installation.

How long will it take to charge the car and how far will it go?

Charging time and range can vary. We’ve listed some of our top sellers with their charging time and the distance you can travel on a full charge (according to the EPA). The annual cost to charge assumes the vehicle is driven 15,000 miles per year and is charged at night.

 Vehicle Charging time (@220 V) Miles per charge Annual cost to charge
2017 BMW i3 5 hours 114 miles $550
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV 3.5 hours 238 miles $550
2017 FIAT 500e 4 hours 84 miles $600
2017 Ford Focus Electric 4 hours 115 miles $600
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric 4.5 hours 124 miles $500
2017 Nissan LEAF 6 hours 107 miles $600
2014 Volkswagen e-Golf 3.7 hours 83 miles $550

*Assumes electricity cost of $0.12/kWh

Where else can I charge besides home?

There are currently over 30,000 charging stations in the US—the greater Los Angeles area and San Francisco Bay area each have over 500. Sites like PlugShare and CarStations can help you locate local stations and plan trips around charging. Many workplaces, campuses, and retail establishments offer free charging which can make owning an electric vehicle even more attractive.

Are electric vehicles expensive to maintain?

No. Electric cars have far fewer moving parts than gas vehicles meaning there are fewer things that will need to be repaired. Additionally, electric vehicles do not require oil or transmission fluid changes. However, most EV batteries will need to be replaced every 7 to 10 years—BMW, Chevrolet, Volkswagen all provide 8-year, 100,000 mile warranties that will cover this. Hyundai offers a lifetime warranty on the Ioniq Electric’s battery.

How much more does an electric vehicle cost?

Electric vehicles can cost significantly more than their gas equivalents. We’ve compiled a chart comparing the two:

 Vehicle MSRP (Gas Version) MSRP (Electric Version)
2017 FIAT 500 $14,995 $32,995
2017 Ford Focus $16,775 $29,120
2017 Hyundai Ioniq (Hybrid) $22,200 $29,500
2017 Volkswagen Golf $19,985 $28,995

Many brands offer leases that can make electric vehicles more competitive with their gas counterparts and can make the savings more immediately attainable. Additionally, there are a number of rebates available that significantly reduce the gap in MSRP between gas and electric vehicles. The white clean air sticker also gets drivers the reduced carpool rate for bridges and toll roads.

What credits and incentives are available?

At the time of writing, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes a federal tax incentive of $2,500 to $7,500 (depending on the battery capacity). The California Air Resources Board also offers a rebate of $2,500 for drivers of electric vehicles who make less than the maximum qualifying income. The leasing company will work the federal credit into the terms of the lease for qualifying vehicles.

Is the car still fun to drive?

Yes. Electric cars offer a zippy drive with plenty of acceleration.

What else should I consider?

Hybrids and plug-in hybrids are widely available and offer strong fuel economy.

Whether you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid, all-electric vehicle, or any other new car, Cartelligent can help you get a great deal on exactly what you want. Call our team of car-buying experts at 888-427-4270 or get started today.