If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you may have your eye on an electric vehicle (EV). Maybe you want to reduce your environmental impact or simply save money on gas — or you just like the look of the new Tesla and you’re sold. But then you hear that nagging voice, “Are electric cars worth it?” Before deciding on going fully electric or not, you want to understand the benefits of electric cars. Read on to review electric cars pros and cons to help make your decision easier.
Benefits of electric cars
f you’re wondering are electric cars worth it, it’s key to understand all the benefits of electric cars. Owning an electric vehicle has its perks, so let’s review.
You can save a lot of money
Have you ever lamented about how high the cost of gas is while at the pump? Imagine those days are gone. Instead of filling up your gas tank each week and feeling like it’s taking a good chunk of your discretionary income, you could save a lot of money by going electric. When you have an electric car, you no longer need any gas to fuel your car.
Instead, you need electricity which is much more affordable. According to Energy.gov, you could reduce costs by 50% by going electric when compared to gas. You can even use their nifty eGallon tool to compare the costs of driving with gas versus electricity. For example, in California, it shows that the cost of gasoline is $3.73 per gallon compared to $1.86 for electricity.
Being able to cut your costs in half is remarkable for your budget and can reduce your overall spending, freeing up money to put elsewhere — like savings, debt, or even a fun hobby.
Electricity is renewable
The thing about gas is that it’s a finite resource as it uses oil to create gas. Oil is a natural resource. Given everything going on with climate change, it’s important to take a harder look at natural resources and the way they’re being used.
That’s why electric vehicles are an attractive alternative. Unlike gas which can technically run out, electricity can be renewable. It’s possible to get electricity in renewable ways such as through wind or water powers or even solar energy.
Renewable energy is on the rise as the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted that usage reached record highs as of 2020, making it 12% of energy consumption. According to the EIA website, “The electric power sector accounted for about 60% of total U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020, and about 20% of total U.S. electricity generation was from renewable energy sources.”
You can lower greenhouse gas emissions
One of the major benefits of electric cars is the fact that you can reduce your environmental impact. Regular vehicles that use gas greatly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as of 2019 transportation makes up 29% of greenhouse gas emissions, effectively the largest contributor next to electricity (25%), industry (23%), commercial and residential (13%), and agriculture (10%).
Electric cars don’t have an exhaust pipe to create greenhouse gas emissions. That’s not to say there is no environmental impact.
If you use coal or natural gas to power electricity, it can leave carbon pollution. If you use one of the more natural ways listed above, you don’t contribute to carbon pollution.
The EPA does state on their website, “Even accounting for these electricity emissions, research shows that an EV is typically responsible for lower levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) than an average new gasoline car. To the extent that more renewable energy sources like wind and solar are used to generate electricity, the total GHGs associated with EVs could be even lower.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the national averages for annual emissions per vehicle is 11,435 pounds of CO2 equivalent for a gasoline vehicle whereas for all-electric vehicles it is 3,774 pounds of CO2 equivalent which represents 3x less CO2 than gasoline vehicles.
You can take advantage of tax credits
Another major perk of owning an electric car is the tax credits you could qualify for. According to the U.S. Department of Energy website, you could get up to $7,500 in tax credits. Your car must be all-electric or plug-in hybrid and made in 2010 or later to qualify.
Tax credits are more effective than deductions at lowering the amount you pay in taxes as they’re dollar-for-dollar. Meaning, if you owed $10,000 you could effectively lower your tax bill up to a maximum of $7,500 and only pay $2,500.
It’s important to note that the tax credit is only available up to the limit. So if your tax bill is only $2,000, you can receive the credit for up to $2,000 and the rest won’t help your tax situation any further. Deductions lower your taxable income which can lower how much you pay in taxes but is not dollar-for-dollar.
Less maintenance is required
When you have a regular car, you need to fill up the gas tank regularly and also change your oil at regular intervals. All of that can add to the cost and time it requires to maintain the car. When it comes to considering electric cars pros and cons, this is a huge benefit. On top of that, there may be fewer repairs needed as well.
Electric cars tend to be much quieter than gas vehicles. That noise reduction can improve performance and quality of life and lead to a smooth ride on the road. Electric vehicles tend to be more energy efficient in stop-and-go traffic as well and electric motors actually react faster than mechanical engines. All of these factors combined make for a better performance and experience as both a driver and passenger.
Downsides of electric cars
Now that you know the benefits of electric cars, it’s time to consider the cons as well. Here are the most common downsides of electric cars.
Electric cars can be pricey
Though you can benefit from the cost savings on gas, there’s no doubt that electric cars are more expensive than standard cars to buy. In some cases, thousands of dollars more.
But Business Insider recently discovered that there is a new group of EVs priced at $35,000. Additionally, Axios noted that electric vehicles are more expensive to buy but not to own. Due to lower maintenance costs it may all even out. But just be aware that you could pay a higher sticker price.
Charging can be a lengthy process
When you have an electric vehicle, you can’t just go to the pump and get on your way. You do have to charge your vehicle for it to work properly. Depending on your make, model, and year, your EV could take between 4 and 20 hours or more to charge. Having a charging station in your home can certainly help, but you need to make sure you budget for that time to adequately charge your vehicle.
You can’t go as far or as long as gas cars
A major downside to owning an electric vehicle is that you can’t go as far or as long as you might want. Electric vehicles can typically go between 60-100 miles when fully charged, but many modern EVs may get up to 250 to 350 miles per charge. Compare that to up to a maximum of 400 miles on a single gas tank (depending on car and efficiency), it’s a notable difference. Going on a road trip is less ideal in this scenario with an electric car.
Finding a station can be tough
If you don’t have a charging station at home, you’re at the mercy of public charging stations. While some cities may have plentiful options, not every place does and it can all depend. The lack of stations in your area could present a challenge if you’re in a bind and need to go somewhere. Be sure to do research about charging stations in your neighborhood and what options are available.
Car insurance premiums may increase
Another downside to consider is that car insurance premiums may be higher with an electric vehicle. The website ValuePenguin found that electric vehicle insurance premiums were 23% higher than regular cars. Part of that is due to the fact that electric cars can be more expensive. So if something were to happen to you, it may cost more to repair.
Electric cars pros and cons
|You can save a lot of money||Electric cars can be pricey|
|Electricity is renewable||Charging can be a lengthy process|
|You can reduce your environmental impact||You can’t go as far or as long as gas cars|
|You can take advantage of tax credits||Finding a station can be tough|
|Less maintenance is required||Car insurance premiums may increase|
Are electric cars worth it?
If you’ve been thinking of buying a new car it’s natural to wonder, are electric cars worth it? The benefits of electric cars are generous and pretty clear cut but you also want to know about electric cars cons as well. It may cost more to buy and insure your car, but you’ll likely make up some of that with reduced costs on fuel.
If you are thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle, chances are you don’t drive much or are actively looking to drive less. Pay-per-mile auto insurance can be a good fit for you and help you lower car insurance costs.
You can see if pay-per-mile car insurance is right for you with Metromile. Download the Metromile app and take a Ride Along™ trial for free. For about two weeks, you’ll drive like you typically do (you should keep your existing insurance policy to keep covered during the trial). After, you’ll see how much you could save if you switched to a usage-based insurance policy.
Drivers can also save up to an extra 15% off their initial Metromile auto insurance quote if they show they’re a safe driver during their Ride Along™ in select states.
Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.