Decisions, Decisions…Should You Buy an Electric Car?

Porsche 918 Spyder
The Porsche 918 Spyder Some brave soul parked their luxury hybrid at the Fairfield electric car show–it wasn’t supposed to be on display but it sure got most of the looks. Photo: TFF

Solar panels are the big thing here in Fairfield County right now. So are electric vehicles (EV). Like many people, we are also contemplating an EV for my next car for some very simple reasons: no gas and little maintenance. I, for one, am tired of paying on average a thousand bucks every time I go to the mechanic for my aging car.

Now, I’m not sure if any of you have taken a look at EVs. I know lots of people have hybrids. We are contemplating hybrids, too. And we aren’t looking at EVs and hybrids as our way of saving the world. Green to me is not a way to save the planet. Green to me is a way to save my money. If it’s not going to save money, why bother?

We attended a tiny little EV fair in one of our local parking lots a few weeks ago. The EV owners love their cars, which is encouraging to hear. I sat in a BMW EV (I think it was the BMW i3?) — the interior dashboard reminded me of an Eames Lounge Chair, which speaks to its demographic, and clearly, it’s a status symbol which is not what I’m after. Loved those black (and tan interior) Teslas (ahhhh), but they were surprisingly intimidating (to me). The Nissan Leaf, though, looked normal, cute and comfortable (I was too busy learning about the Leaf and forgot to take a photo!)

Nissan Leaf EV
A Tesla is my Dream Car, but I’ll take an affordable and cute little Nissan LEAF shown here, thank you! Photo: Courtesy of Nissan

As an aside….for some reason, I have fallen for Tesla cars. I now have a Dream Car. I never had a Dream Car in mind. Hmmm. Not sure why I would pine for an $60,000 electric car that Fast Company has deemed a status symbol. But, I’d settle for a used Nissan Leaf, more in the $15,000 to $20,000 price range. (However, I hear there will be a $35,000 Tesla next year 🙂 )

Though I’m not concerned too much about “range anxiety,” I am concerned about how much it costs to add a battery charging station to our house (the nearest charging station to our house is at the Fairfield Woods Library) and how much I’ll save not buying gas in the long-range scheme of things. What I found out, much like the news about how little money I’d actually save with solar power for the house, was a bit discouraging. I’ve never been one of those “early adopters” of technology, so naturally, I’m of the belief that electric cars and solar panels have not come far enough to benefit my finances. But day by day, I hear more positive than negative about EVs…and now I’m hearing about fuel cell cars (forget that, I’ll stick to EVs since I can only handle one auto education at a time.)

Why an Electric Car is a Good Idea…(at least for me…)

  • I don’t need much car space now that my kids are in high school.
  • I work at home, so I don’t need to go far. Average range is around 87 to 107 miles on a fully powered battery, at least for the latest Leafs.
  • We have another gas-powered car for long trips.
  • No more gas!
  • No more oil changes!
  • They are heavy cars thanks to the battery (they aren’t lightweight like I thought).
  • No more miscellaneous maintenance (until the battery dies in 10 years and hoping EV batteries are cheaper then).
  • Instant heat in the car, no more waiting for a warmed up motor.
  • Gasoline-powered cars are toast, says Bloomberg Business. (Even Toyota plans to ditch all gas cars by 2050 though I’ll be too old to drive by then.)

Why an Electric Car is a Bad Idea … (at least for me…)

  • It costs $1,200 to add a 220v electrical outlet to our garage. We can use a 120v outlet, but it takes a lot longer to charge. But I still can’t get a direct answer about how much the electric bill goes up per month with an EV. You have to recharge it every day, so…
  • It may not save all that much money. See above point. However, my husband went to an EV talk the other night and the guy giving the talk said that instead of saving $100 a month on his electric bill with solar panels, he’s saving $60 a month with solar because of his EV. So, am I to assume his electric bill to charge his car is $40 a month? I’m clearly no math genius…so anyhow who has an answer…feel free to respond!
  • It may have the same mph as a gas car.
  • Don’t the breaks need to be serviced?
  • How do you get to the battery if it’s under the car as they are in some EVs??
  • The battery power goes down 15% to 20% in winter which my husband doesn’t think is bad, but I think, whoa…
  • If we buy used, we won’t get the tax break (which is ok) and if we buy a used EV, the technology will be considered old in a year.

A used EV — two to three years old — is literally half to one-third the price of a new EV. But the technology is considered ancient at that point, and there are no tax incentives (which mentioned above, is fine). But what we may do, and it makes sense for us, potentially, is to lease our first EV–and all tax incentives go to the dealer, which again, is fine with me. (A Two Frugal Fairfielder…leasing? Wow, how things have changed!) But, that way, if we hate the EV, or the technology changes so drastically, we walk away when the lease is up.

So the quest continues. For now, I’ll drive my nearly 10-year-old mini-van around till it’s time to hand it over to the new drivers in the house. Let us know if you have an EV or are thinking of getting an EV! Help all of us out there to make a decision…

~Marilyn, TFF



4 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions…Should You Buy an Electric Car?

  1. I was just talking to DH about this on the drive home, as we passed by the Tesla dealership. Oh man, I would love a Tesla. They really are droolworthy. And I say that as someone who drives a 10 year old Hyundai Accent.

    But I was also asking him if my next car should be electric. My work has a dock and free parking for electric vehicles. So I dunno.

    1. I know, I know…I just wish the EV fairy would just grant me a car for a week so I can see how I like it 🙂 — Marilyn

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