Are you in the market for a new car? If so, you may be one of the growing number of Americans who are seriously considering an electric vehicle (EV).
But is an EV a clear winner over a traditional car? The answer is complicated. Gas-powered cars (those with an internal combustion engine) and electric cars have some very different perks, costs, and drawbacks. If you’re considering an electric car over a gas-powered vehicle, there are a few things you should consider before buying.
Advantages of electric vehicles
Whether you’re interested in savings (hi, tax credits!) or you’re eager to reduce your carbon footprint, an electric car has some unique benefits, for instance:
- Potential savings
- Tax incentives
- Low maintenance
- Better handling and acceleration
- Lower emissions
Skipping the gas station is an obvious benefit of an electric car, and those savings can definitely add up. After all, fuel costs for the average American topped $2,100 in 2021. There are definitely more exciting ways to spend $2,100 than on gas, right?
Some electric vehicles will be eligible for a clean vehicle credit in 2022 and beyond. The tax credits themselves are worth up to $7,500. In 2022, only some models are available for the tax credit, because there’s a cap on how many vehicles manufacturers could sell before the tax credit phased out. Popular manufacturers like General Motors and Tesla ran out of their eligibility for the tax credit.
But, in 2023, all of that changes. Thanks, Inflation Reduction Act! The manufacturer sales cap won’t apply any longer. For full tax credit eligibility, the electric vehicle you buy will have to be assembled in North America. A few on the eligible list for 2023 include Ford’s Mustang Mach E, some Rivian models, and some Tesla models.
But before you think about getting a tricked out Tesla Model X, there are two catches.
- This credit only applies to cars with an MSRP under $55,000 (or under under $80,000 for SUVs)
- You’ll have to earn less than $150,000 per year (or $300,000 as a household, if you’re married) to qualify
To learn more about the credits, check out the US Department of Energy’s website for all the details.
While the gas savings and tax credits for EVs are fairly common knowledge, the money you could save on routine maintenance is often overlooked.
With an all-electric car, routine oil changes will be a thing of the past. For electric cars with one-pedal driving—where you barely have to touch the brakes to slow to a stop—you won’t have to shell out for new brakes as often. There are fewer moving parts, and the maintenance costs are simply lower for electric cars.
You might think that an electric vehicle can’t live up to a gas car in terms of acceleration and speed. But that’s not true any longer.
With gas cars, especially those that aren’t focused on performance, there can be a lag between when you press the pedal and when you feel the car respond. With electric motors, that’s not the case—the acceleration is immediate. Electric vehicles are more responsive, and that’s a big plus if performance is something you’re looking at in your next car.
An electric car can be a huge positive step for the environment.
That’s not to say that EVs have no emissions. Manufacturing EVs isn’t always the cleanest process—and there’s some controversy around the amount of pollution that manufacturing and shipping heavy battery packs can create—but when it comes to tailpipe emissions, EVs simply don’t have them (at least directly).
While there aren’t any tailpipe emissions from the electric vehicle itself, there’s still a footprint created by charging and the energy used to charge the battery. Which, depending on where you live, isn’t always the greenest, either. An MIT study found that the average electric vehicle’s footprint stands at about 200 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, based on the energy it consumes to power the vehicle.
A gas car, however, has tailpipe emissions of about 275 grams per mile. Even for short trips, that’s a pretty big difference in emissions.
It’s worth noting that electric vehicle emissions vary based on where you live. With solar panels included in your setup—or in states where electricity is created with renewable energy resources, like hydroelectric or wind—electric cars are even more of a clear winner for the environment.
Disadvantages of electric vehicles
Electric vehicles are sounding pretty sweet. But they’re not perfect. Here are a few of the not-so-great things you’ll run into when owning an electric car.
- More difficult to “refuel”
- Can be expensive
- Taxes and insurance rates might increase
Electric cars aren’t as easily “refueled” as gas cars
In many parts of the country, it’s still not as easy to find a charging station as it is a gas station. If you live in a more rural area or enjoy road trips, it can be a little bit uncomfortable to know you have a finite driving range—and that you could end up with a drained battery, and no charge in sight. That’s where the term “range anxiety” comes in.
It’s worth noting that there are some cures for so-called range anxiety. There are plenty of apps to help you find places to charge all over the country, including fast chargers and plain old exterior wall outlets for a portable charger. And, with advancing battery technology, EVs have an increasing range. (Hint: Check out our top picks for high mileage electric SUVs to see just how long you can cruise before needing a charge.)
But, it’s worth paying attention to the charging time and the total range of the car you’re considering. The typical electric vehicle needs a few hours to reach a full charge, while the typical gas car takes only a few minutes to refuel.
There are some exceptions to this: Tesla’s supercharging network can charge a car’s battery to full much faster (think: enough juice for up to 200 miles, delivered in 15 minutes). But largely, battery power takes much longer to refill than a gas tank. And that can be inconvenient if you’re not used to planning for it.
An electric car can be pricey
Anticipate some sticker shock when you start shopping for an electric car: The average price is quite a bit higher than for their gas-powered peers.
A great example is the price difference between a Hyundai Kona and Kona Electric. The sticker price for a 2023 gas-powered Kona is $21,990. The Kona Electric? $34,000. That’s not including any federal or state tax incentives for EVs. But it’s still a pretty significant difference.
The reason behind it is simple: Battery packs aren’t cheap to manufacture. While it could bring potential savings later, the higher initial costs are still worth considering.
And, don’t forget the charger, since you don’t just plug an EV into a regular electrical outlet. It can cost a few hundred dollars to get your hands on an EV charger, and then a few hundred more to install it in your home.
You’ll still have to pay some of the taxes gas-powered drivers pay, and your insurance might get more expensive
Bad news: While you may not be spending as much on gas, your state government probably still wants you to chip in for gas taxes. So, if you have an electric vehicle, you’ll have that cost added to your registration expenses in many states. Fees range from $50 per year to upwards of $200.
What about insurance rates? It’s true—at least for now—that electric cars and electric versions of conventional cars tend to have higher upfront and repair costs than conventional cars. So if you’re in an accident, or your battery pack needs replacing, your insurer would potentially have to pay out more (especially if an adjuster declares the EV totaled). To offset this risk, they may charge you with higher insurance premiums.
But at Lemonade Car, we believe that going green shouldn’t be synonymous with compromising your wallet. There are lots of ways you can lower your insurance costs when you cover your EV on a Lemonade Car policy—from bonus discounts for driving an electric car and bundling Lemonade policies, to savings based on how much and how well you drive.
What can I do to go greener without going full EV?
Not ready to take the full plunge yet? That’s perfectly understandable. While charging station networks and battery technology evolve, you might be seeking a compromise between a gas-powered car and an EV.
One great solution is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). It’s part electric up to a certain range, and part gas-powered after that range. Some cars have a pretty significant electric range—like the Chevrolet Volt, which can cover up to 40 miles easily on electric power, and then functions like a hybrid after that range is used up.
Of course, you could also choose a more traditional hybrid, like the Toyota Prius, which wouldn’t require any charging.
Before you plug in
If you do decide that an electric car is the right fit for you after weighing the pros and cons, why not take Lemonade Car for a spin?
We offer extra discounts and coverages for EV drivers—like coverage for your home charging station or your portable charger.
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