We are often asked, “Which EV should I buy?” It’s a great question, and the good news is that it’s becoming harder to choose! Many exciting models of electric vehicles are due out over the next few years, from major manufacturers and promising start-ups alike.
The following guide, however, is not about waiting. It’s for when you’ve decided that it’s time to purchase a new vehicle and you want to find the right zero-emissions alternative for you.
Many folks, including ReVisionistas, are waiting – for fiscal or resource conservation-related reasons, and so we all understand. Some cars aren’t quite ready to retire, and it’s good if we don’t make new cars for the sake of making new cars.
The new fleet is here, though, and for many of us now is the time to make the shift. When it comes down to it, there are ways to get behind the wheel of an EV without spending an exorbitant amount.
Early model Nissan LEAFs can be picked up for a song, 2017 Chevy Bolts will soon be coming off their leases – some folks even purchase “compliance cars” only available in California and drive them home to New England. If you want to go new, though, there is great value to be found on the market these days.
Ahead of the Curve
So what should you look for when you decide to begin shopping? There are a number of caveats, most determined by your driving habits and living situation. Here are a few issues to consider:
- Do you have another vehicle you can use for longer trips?
- What’s your budget?
- How soon do you need to buy a vehicle?
- Do you have reasonable access to electricity overnight?
- How far do you drive daily?
- How big a vehicle do you need?
- Do you need all-wheel drive?
When evaluating the various driving ranges available with different models, factor in that the colder months can reduce range by 30-40% at times. A 2017 Chevy Bolt’s 238-mile range may reduce to 150 miles on the coldest days. That is a startling drop, but just remember that research shows that 95% of daily drives (rural or urban) are under 50 miles.
Though range anxiety may be largely unnecessary, it is potent. Some look to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) as a solution, and they work, but if possible we recommend opting for an all-electric EV because a PHEV will have higher maintenance costs, and a tailpipe. All-electric EVs provide the greatest operational and maintenance savings, and eliminate more carbon pollution. Most importantly, they’re more fun to drive!
There are few tips for maximizing EV battery range in the winter, like opting for heated seats – they are more efficient at keeping your body warm, so you won’t need to rely on the cabin heater which will drain your range more quickly. +1 point for gas cars – they put off a lot of heat!
Those heatwaves are just visible inefficiency though, and meanwhile the points for EVs just keep coming. They can complete the Dakar Rally. They can do their job in the Arctic Circle during winter. Range aside, fueling up an EV is a simple adaptation that streamlines your day. Plugging in overnight at home or during the workday simplifies your commute – and long-distance travel can still be undertaken with relatively little extra planning or journey time needed.
More Than a Fueling
It’s already cheaper, and cleaner, to fuel with grid electricity in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, but when you power your EV with solar electricity you to lock in an even lower fueling cost for the life of your solar array. We calculate the solar gallon to cost approximately $0.71/gallon – whatever specific low rate you arrive at with your solar charging package, it will never fluctuate.
How do we get to 71 cents per gallon? EVs receive a mile per gallon equivalent (MPGe) from the EPA based on how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) it takes for the vehicle to drive 100 miles. Similarly, there is the eGallon, which represents the cost of powering a vehicle with electricity compared to a similar motor vehicle. Using the average fuel economy and energy efficiency of motor vehicles (28mpg) compared to EVs, and the adjusted price of electricity generated by solar power (roughly 10 cents per kilowatt-hour over 25 years), the cost of fueling an EV in northern New England is roughly equivalent to paying $0.71/gallon for gasoline.
The EV Experience
The solar gallon is not something you will hear about at the auto dealership. Herein lies an important point: Make sure you test drive your options thoroughly. Though the economic levers are moving and the American business landscape is changing, you cannot yet count on the best information about your EV options to come from the auto dealers themselves.
Along with test driving, talking to other EV drivers is one of the best ways to gain confidence toward purchasing an EV. National Drive Electric Week events are an increasingly powerful way to share that experience. There is a Drive Electric Earth Day event in Lowell coming up in April that we’ll be participating in, and we’d love to see you there. It’s awesome to watch how these events grow every year.
You’ll find us hosting test drives of one of our Bolts at EV gatherings. We’re still big fans of the Bolt and the impact it has made. We added 3 to our fleet in 2017 and they are going strong. We’ve also enjoyed test driving the Tesla Model 3, Hyundai Kona, BMW i3, and Kia Niro.
We predict the Mini Cooper SE rolling out this year will be a great addition to the ranks. There are sure to be hits just around the corner, but make sure to take a gander at what’s around today. Good luck on your search!
If you need any extra nudges, don’t forget about the Federal Tax Credit for EVs that remains at $7,500 for every EV, excluding Tesla and GM models. Check out our EV charging incentives guide to find the rebates available for plug-in vehicles and charging equipment in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
To keep your finger on the pulse, check out Barry Woods on Twitter. Barry is our Director of Electric Vehicle Innovation and aggregates a wealth of articles about the many facets of this economic and technological transition taking shape. Green Car Reports, InsideEVs, and Electrek are other outstanding sources of information about the world of EVs.
We look forward to continuing the conversation about the benefits of electrified transportation as public awareness expands. If you have any questions at all, please get in touch with us!