Deciding which vehicle is right for your lifestyle and your family now comes with another option to consider as more vehicles are available in electric and hybrid versions.
While electric vehicles (frequently shortened to simply “EV”) still make up a small percentage of available cars, every auto manufacturer has announced a slew of new electric models coming out in the next few years.
BestRide.com hosted a recent Facebook Live event with Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst with Guidehouse Insights, a market intelligence firm focused on emerging technologies, to answer your pressing questions about electric vehicles.
“With an EV you have to think about where you’re going to charge it and what your charging situation is,” Abuelsamid said. “Do you take a lot of long road trips? The vast majority of people drive less than 40 miles a day, but you have to keep in mind charging takes longer than gassing a car up.”
Here are answers to your critical questions about EVs:
Will charging be an issue?
There are currently about 100,000 publicly available charging stations in the U.S., with more being added all the time, Abuelsamid said. These stations include fast and lower-speed stations and are now available in many public parking lots, by grocery stores and malls, and in front of many workplaces.
Charging stations can be installed in your home, or you can just plug into your home’s standard outlet, although charging will take longer that way, he stated.
“We’re seeing more fast chargers going in at grocery stores and around town, and it’s becoming less and less of an issue every year,” Abuelsamid said. “The time it takes to charge depends on your vehicle and the type of charger. Some take an hour, while others can charge your car in about 20 minutes. It’s getting faster all the time.”
What kind of electric vehicles are available?
The auto industry has about 20 EVs available now to buy, and by this time next year, that number will double. The following year that number is expected to double again, Abuelsamid explained.
“The number is increasing all the time with announcements from automakers,” Abuelsamid said. “They are moving aggressively to offer more EVs. For example, Stellantis announced they would have electric versions of every car they sell. We’ll have at least 20 models available from G.M., and Ford and V.W. are launching a bunch as well. The Ford F-150 Lightning is coming and will be the most powerful F-150 available.”
Will car owners save money with an EV?
He said it would generally cost an EV owner less to operate their electric-powered car than a gas or diesel vehicle. However, the cost depends on how far you drive, how long you keep the car, and what type of vehicle it is, he added.
“Right now, EVs are generally more expensive to buy, but that price gap is narrowing,” Abuelsamid said. “For example, the Ford Lightning base price is $40,000, while the equivalent gas version costs $42,500. And there’s still eligible tax breaks to take advantage of for EVs.”
Each state and auto maker has different tax credits available. Visit fueleconomy.gov to get information on available incentives. EV owners could get up to $10,000 off the sticker price, he said.
While you’ll still have to replace tires, brakes, and windshield wipers on your electric vehicle, there are no oil changes. Electricity is also a lot cheaper than gasoline, Abuelsamid said.
“EV drivers will spend about 2/3 less to charge their vehicle” over gas, he said. “D.C. fast charging is more expensive, but overall, you will spend less on energy than gas or diesel.”
DC fast charging is the fastest level of charging speed available for EVs.
How prevalent are battery fires in electric vehicles?
While any EV battery fire is amplified in the news, the fires are not very frequent and are not a big problem compared to gas-powered cars, Abuelsamid said.
“There has been a total of seven fires over the last 4-5 years, out of 70,000 vehicles,” he said. “That’s not really a problem most people need to be concerned about.”
Is an electric vehicle powerful?
Power is not a problem in an EV as it has more torque than a gas-powered vehicle, Abuelsamid said. For example, the 2022 Tesla Model S Plaid can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in under 2 seconds.
“Towing is not a problem with an EV, but when towing, your energy efficiency goes way down, just like with gas,” he said. “With the extra weight, you’ll use a lot more energy. Long-distance towing is not a good option for an EV”
How is the electric vehicle driving experience?
It is a different experience driving an EV. One thing missing is the noise of a gas-fueled engine. However, some EVs provide noise options for those missing that rumble, Abuelsamid said.
“Some EVs are providing noise options to provide hints of that classic car sound,” he said. “Drivers can turn that option on and off. Also, expect to have options in the future to create whatever soundtrack you want for your EV.”
For example, well-known composer Hans Zimmer, who has created movie scores for Interstellar, Dune, and Days of Thunder, was hired to compose distinctive driving sounds for the electric BMW i4.
What is a hybrid EV?
A hybrid vehicle has a gas engine with an electric motor. The motor generates electricity which puts energy back into the battery, Abuelsamid said. Hybrid electric cars run on a combination of electricity and conventional fuel.
“A hybrid adds a smaller electric motor into the powertrain to regenerate energy into a smaller battery,” he said. “The engine doesn’t have to work as hard, and you get better fuel efficiency.”
Plug-in hybrids have larger batteries you can plug in and charge. You can drive around on electricity if you choose, and with longer trips, the car operates like a regular hybrid, Abuelsamid said.
“A hybrid might be a good option for people who want to take longer trips and don’t want to have to plan their charging options,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about when to charge.”
Should your next vehicle be electric?
While that question is ultimately a personal decision only you can answer, Abuelsamid said it’s something most people should consider when looking for a new vehicle.
“It might not be the right time this minute since electric vehicles are still limited, but you should absolutely be taking a look at it in the future,” he said. “I’ve been in the auto industry for 30 years, and this is the most interesting time in my career with more things changing than ever before.”
To read another BestRide.com blog featuring Abuelsamid, click here to read about what the chip shortage means for the auto industry.