July 15, 2024

Is Now a Good Time to Buy an Electric Car?

9 min read
Is Now a Good Time to Buy an Electric Car?

New Jersey, for instance, will waive its 6.625 percent sales tax on the purchase of an electric vehicle, which would amount to $2,650 off a $40,000 EV. You should also look at incentives for installing EV charging equipment, often offered by your local utility. In California, if you live in Anaheim, you can shave $3,000 off the cost of installing faster, Level 2 charging at your home. But if you live in Oklahoma, the best utility incentives amount to $200 for installing EV charging equipment. 

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More commonly, EVs can qualify for federal tax credits, but that can vary by brand. The law that established the credits gave a fixed allotment to each manufacturer, and both GM and Tesla have exhausted theirs (though their vehicles might qualify for some state rebates). But for other brands, federal credits can greatly reduce the sticker price. Also note: To qualify for the full tax credit of $7,500, you have to actually owe at least that amount in taxes in a year. A person drawing on retirement savings and Social Security may have a relatively low tax bill and not meet that threshold, says Jay Halpern, a CPA in Kingston, New York.

How much do EVs cost to operate?

We already mentioned the difference in “fuel” costs, but EVs also have fewer moving parts than do their gas-powered relatives, with no pumping pistons, no complicated gear boxes, no fuel injectors, no radiators, no crankshafts and so on. And that means less maintenance and fewer repairs. The Department of Energy has a good calculator to compare costs for what you’re driving now vs. an EV. ​As for operating costs, a front-wheel-drive gas-powered Honda CR-V, which gets decent fuel mileage at 28 mph city/34 highway, will run about $2,988 a year in gas if driven 15,000 miles in California, while the Department of Energy says an all-electric Audi Q4 driving that same distance will cost about $1,250 a year for electricity. In Michigan the gas cost falls to $2,362 — but the kilowatts cost a mere $954 — again, less than half the money.

What about range?

“Ten years ago, when the first crop of electric cars came out, you had Tesla’s, which had 200 miles of range. But mass-priced electric cars had ranges of around 75 miles. And most people just won’t buy a car with 75 miles of range,” says EV industry consultant Voelcker. But times have changed. “Today the new normal is rapidly approaching 250 or 300 miles.”

But considering that you can recharge your EV at home each night, that range may be far more than you’ll need (except on a long road trip). Voelcker advises spending a month of resetting your gas car’s odometer every Sunday morning and penciling down the distances you actually drove in a week. “People are always really shocked to find out how far they didn’t go.” 

Where to charge an EV?

Nearly 90 percent of EV owners say they always or mostly charge at home, according to a February 2021 survey by J.D. Power. That’s due both to convenience and cost. At home you aren’t paying a surcharge to a third-party provider. Still, public EV charging is frequently cheaper than fueling up on gasoline. And if you hunt carefully, you can increasingly find free charging stations, offered both by governments and by retailers like grocery stores that want your loyalty. Phone apps can help you locate them. If you’re charging away from home, find something to do while you’re waiting. Even high-speed chargers need a half hour or more to “tank you up.”


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