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Is an Electric Vehicle Right for Me?

Thinking of buying an EV? Get the pros and cons before you decide

The world is abuzz about electric vehicles, and it’s enough to make the non-believers feel like they might be missing out on the next big thing. If you still rely on fossil fuels to get from A to B, should you make the switch to an EV—or is the electrification craze all about the hype? 

Here are both sides of the argument to help you decide whether an electric vehicle is the right choice for you. 

Owning an EV: Pros

Now is a better time than ever to drive an EV for a growing number of reasons. First and foremost: Electric vehicles have seen remarkable improvements in design, engineering, and range.

There are currently around 20 EVs available today, with more on the way since every prominent manufacturer is investing heavily into this fastest-growing segment in the industry. Some premium models have ranges approaching the 500-mile mark; many affordable examples can go up to 250 miles on a full battery, which is still more than enough for most driving needs.

Driving an EV is a surprisingly pleasant experience, thanks to quiet operation and seamless acceleration.

Who enjoys stopping at a gas station to fill up their tank? Anyone? Electric vehicles skip the unpleasant experience of pumping fuel at dubious service stations while enabling you to charge your car while you shop.

The rapidly growing population of public chargers is being bolstered by a hefty infrastructure bill that promises an even more extensive network. If your home is pre-wired for a 240-volt connection, you also can have a Level 2 charger installed for as little as under $1,000.

Range anxiety is still natural, but it’s becoming less of a reality thanks to increased vehicle range and a growing number of charging options, particularly DC Fast Charging options that can provide an 80 percent charge in as little as 20 minutes.

Driving an EV is a surprisingly pleasant experience, thanks to quiet operation and seamless acceleration. With no vibration from a gas engine and no gears to interrupt the flow of power, electric vehicles exhibit many of the driving characteristics that are highly sought after by luxury carmakers: smooth thrust, agile handling (thanks to their low centers of gravity), and a peaceful cabin that feels insulated from the outside world.

Many EVs also now have easy-to-read range maps that overlay the potential distance traveled based on the current battery state.

Running an electric vehicle also tends to be more economical than a gas car, as an EV’s relative lack of moving parts requires next to zero maintenance. Charging is also cheaper than filling up with fuel: An EV costs the equivalent of $1/gallon of gas to “fill up.”

Federal credits and potential EV subsidies add financial incentives to going electric, as does the promise of reducing greenhouse gases and overall environmental impact (though that argument is not entirely waterproof; see below). 

Owning an EV: Cons

First off, let’s address the elephant in the room by saying what most EV evangelists might never admit: an electric vehicle isn’t for everyone. Yes, there are definite advantages to EVs over gas-powered cars. But there are also solid arguments for sticking with the conventional choice. 

Prime among the reasons some opt out of EV life: Lack of a home charger. If your living situation prevents you from installing a Level 2 charging station in your garage or near your vehicle, relying on public chargers might not be worth the hassle. While some have found a workaround (like accessing a charger at work) or incorporating a routine around nearby malls that enable charging while shopping or eating at a restaurant, making an electric vehicle work without charging it at home puts a significant dent in the EV appeal.

Another deterrent is the initial added expense of an electric vehicle. While government incentives reduce some financial sting (and automakers have bundled attractive lease deals around EVs to stimulate sales), battery-powered cars still tend to be pricier than their gas-powered counterparts.

While Tesla’s global network of over 25,000 Superchargers has dramatically boosted the flexibility of road tripping for Elon Musk acolytes, those who drive other EVs face challenges finding a charger on the open road. Entities like Electrify America are making inroads to a more extensive charger network, and government infrastructure provisions include $7.5 billion to add half a million charging stations across the country. But those plans haven’t fully been realized, and the here and now presents logistical challenges to EV road trippers. (Ed. Note: Tesla has promised to open up its SuperCharger network to non-Tesla owners.)

Those who’ve ever experienced rolling blackouts have a valid concern that the electric grid isn’t always the most reliable energy source. One could counter those issues with the argument that the oil pipeline has been subject to cyberattacks. (For example, the mid-2021 Colonial Pipeline shutdown spiked fuel prices and led to gas shortages). However, the gasoline supply does tend to be more redundant than the electrical grid. 

Finally, though the idea of an electric vehicle may seem like a magic bullet that solves issues like reliance on petroleum and the emission of greenhouse gases, there is a flipside to that argument.

With a little bit of forethought, the right EV can change how you think about transportation and give you a new lease on the fundamentals of driving.

Among the counterpoints is that building an electric vehicle can produce a more significant carbon footprint than a gas-powered one due to battery production processes. Mining the rare-earth metals used in some batteries is energy-intensive and can produce toxic waste. Additionally, if coal plants generate electricity to charge batteries, EVs can tip toward doing more harm than good to the environment.

However, it’s also worth noting that electric vehicles gain an advantage in greenhouse emissions when they’ve been on the road for several tens of thousands of miles. At this point, a gas car will start exceeding an EV’s environmental imprint.

Bottom Line: Are EVs Right For You?

After the dust settles, should you make the switch to electric? Most EV converts will tell you that range anxiety isn’t as scary as it sounds, which can be true if drivers plan their route and charging strategy ahead of time.

With a little bit of forethought, the right EV can change how you think about transportation and give you a new lease on the fundamentals of driving, even introducing the novelty of one-pedal driving, which does away with constant shifting between accelerator and brake pedals. 

However, if your home is not conducive to setting up a dedicated charger and your options beyond the house are limited, you might find that going electric isn’t worth the effort. The clean air debate is also a two-sided one, as EVs can deliver long-term benefits over gas vehicles but are not entirely without an environmental impact. 

We recommend taking an EV for a test drive, considering both sides of the argument, and weighing all those factors in deciding whether or not an electric vehicle is right for you. While EVs are certainly not for everyone, they do have a way of winning over hearts and minds.