The new electric Nissan Ariya: what does driving look like?

Thinking of an EV? Here is your guide to buying an electric car.

Written by Nick Kurtzewski

Whether you are considering a luxury electric car or a budget car, there are some questions you need to ask before buying

Have you decided it’s time to put an electric car on your new car shopping list, but are at a loss as to where to start your search? do not worry. There’s a lot to consider when switching to an EV, and this guide can help you prioritize what you want in your purchase.

Your checklist likely includes as much driving range as possible, an affordable base price, or plenty of room for passengers and cargo for your everyday driving tasks. We’ve broken down your electric vehicle shopping tips into manageable pieces to make the experience something that leaves you feeling energized when it comes to buying your new car.

Know your budget

Unless you’ve won the jackpot in the lottery, you’ll want to start shopping for your electric car with a realistic budget range in mind. There are plenty of models on the less expensive side of the spectrum. For example, the Volkswagen ID.4 and Kia EV6 start around $41,000. Shoppers wanting to keep the price as low as possible can take note of Chevrolet’s recent price drops. The Bolt hatchback and Bolt EUV put their starting prices well below $30,000.

At the upper end of the market, models like the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ luxury sedans and Lucid (LCID) Air have six-digit prices. These vehicles also have great performance stats to stock many of the top sports cars.

See: This is the cheapest electric car, and it just got an update

Check Electric Vehicle Incentives

If the price of an electric vehicle seems out of reach, look for tax breaks. There may be federal tax credits, state discounts, and local incentives to lower the purchase price and make return shipping less expensive. For example, your utility company might have deals for home charging stations and low-cost off-peak electricity plans for overnight charging.

Federal tax credits for electric vehicles were recently extended as part of the Biden administration’s $7.5 billion infrastructure package. The plan also eliminated a 200,000-vehicle limit for any car manufacturer that produces EVs. This means that car companies that have previously exceeded the cap – such as Tesla and General Motors – will again be eligible for these credits.

Remember that potential tax credit eligibility involves many factors, including adjusted gross income, the price of the electric vehicle, where it was made, and the make and model of the electric vehicle.

Read more: Thinking of an EV? First $4,000 tax credit for used electric cars, and $7,500 for new, gets congressional approval

Many electric car manufacturers also include useful extras such as free recharging in a preferred charging network for a specified period or up to a certain amount of energy. For example, the Ford (F) F-150 Lightning truck and Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUV compact come with 250 kWh free charging provided by Electrify America. In general, this should equate to about 1,000 miles of charging.

Ask the dealer if the electric vehicle you’re considering has similar charging discounts or special membership rates for joining networks like Electrify America and EVgo.

See: Here are the 10 best electric cars of the year

How much electric car do you need?

Electric vehicles often provide a minimum range of 200 miles per charge. Some of the most famous are cracking the 300-mile barrier, like the Tesla Model 3 sedan and the Tesla Model Y crossover SUV. The Model Y was the best-selling electric car in the United States in 2021.

The Lucid Air Dream Edition is the current king of the electric car lineup. The luxury electric car has a range of 520 miles. This impressive number is mitigated by the Air Dream’s hefty asking price of over $160,000. Remember back when we were discussing budgets for your electric car? Larger range and larger battery packs often cost extra money.

There are options if you do not need long legs and luxurious trim for a car like the Lucid Air. More affordable models like the Chevrolet Bolt EUV and Kia Niro E deliver around 240 miles of charge and cost a fraction of the price.

See: What will electric vehicle charging look like in the future?

Search all of your shipping options

Recharging your electric vehicle is more than just plugging in a plug and socket. There are different types of chargers — Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 — with significantly different charging rates. Level 3 chargers are known as fast DC chargers, although not all electric vehicles have the ability to receive high outputs from some stations.

When it comes to pricing, the cost of charging an electric vehicle depends on where and when you recharge. Some public stations may be free to use in malls or other establishments. Others may offer free fees for a specific period or during certain times of the day. Be sure to read the fine print before turning on the power for the first time, as parking your electric vehicle at a station may result in normal parking rates applicable at that lot or fines if you exceed the charging time allowed.

Read: Four valuable lessons I learned from taking a road trip in an electric car

In terms of general rates for in-home recharging, an American household typically pays 15 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity. Electric cars often get about 3-4 miles of range per kilowatt-hour. As you would expect, the cost of public stations operated by charging networks is usually higher.

Related: Does Driving an Electric Car Really Save You Money? A cheap man runs the numbers

Are there charging stations where you live?

If you’re not charging at home, check for a reliable charging network nearby to keep your electric car on the road. This may sound like obvious advice. However, it’s worth noting that even the best EV can turn into a four-wheel paperweight if you can’t hook it up.

A home charging station makes a lot of sense and is a smart investment. Check to see if there are any charging incentives in your area or if your workplace has chargers available to employees. We suggest downloading apps like PlugShare and ChargePoint, especially if you’re going to be driving in unfamiliar surroundings and know you’ll need to rely on public charging stations.

These apps contain filters that allow you to access specific outlets suitable for your vehicle, along with the current rates for charging at a particular location and whether the station is in good working order. The last thing you want to do is get into a station with a bit of battery charge left, only to discover that the charger isn’t working.

If in doubt, have a backup plan if you’re concerned that a particular charging station isn’t available.

Check out: Polestar plans to build a great electric car — when can you get it?

Electric vehicle maintenance

Electric cars don’t save you money just by not asking for a single drop of gasoline or an oil change. Its maintenance cost is also lower than that of an internal combustion engine vehicle. This is because there are fewer moving parts in an electric vehicle’s powertrain.

The mechanical recipe for an electric car is pretty much the automotive equivalent of a bowl of cereal. There is at least one electric motor, a battery pack, and a single-speed transmission that sends power to the wheels. Depending on the make and model you choose, electric vehicles come in front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations.

Electric vehicles require maintenance at some point. Tires, brake pads, suspension components, and other items will need attention. However, with the exception of the gas-powered pistons of a conventional gas-powered engine, electric motors have fewer moving parts that can go bad and require costly repair.

Battery packs and electric motors eventually need replacing, although this won’t be necessary for at least 10 years or more, depending on your driving habits.

Do you need extra cargo space?

Are you going to spend your time driving electric alone, or are you planning to move a whole group of friends and family? Just as you would when considering a car with an internal combustion engine, one of the biggest considerations when shopping for electric vehicles is how much space you need for passengers and cargo.

Fortunately, electric cars are available in many different shapes and sizes. Models like the Rivian R1S and Pickup Ford F-150 Lightning have cabins with plenty of stretch and room for anything you want to carry with you on the trip.

On the other hand, make sure you don’t pay for an electric car more than you need to. If you want a simple way to get from Point A to Point B and something small enough to make curbside parking easy, models like the Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Bolt might be a better fit.

SEE ALSO: Yes, we can make electric vehicles cheaper and charge faster, say scientists

Should you wait to buy an electric car?

If you’re hesitant because you’re not sure that an electric vehicle meets your budget or needs, take some time and do more research. Don’t be afraid to test a variety of makes and models, too. As with any car search, getting behind the wheel and experiencing the car first-hand can help seal the deal or make you realize it’s not the car for you.

The average price of a new car hit a record high this summer, which could affect whether you want to buy now or wait to see if prices drop in the coming months. Automakers are introducing more and more electric cars with every car model year. This will lead to a variety of electric models, from small sedans and hatchbacks to full-size trucks and three-row SUVs.

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09-21-22 0501ET

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