No, Your New Electric Vehicle Really Doesn't Need All the Bells and Whistles

Focus on the features that matter

There was a time when air conditioning was an option. If you lived in a climate best described as "under the intense focus of the nearby star" and you couldn't afford the extra cash to outfit your vehicle with AC, you just hoped that you could drive fast enough with the windows down to cool the cabin. 

Tesla Truck


Fortunately, we can all benefit from AC in new cars. But as this and other features became standard, automakers have started looking elsewhere to pump up the cost of a vehicle. Some of these optional features are great. Like heated seats, if you live where temperatures tend to drop below 40 degrees on a regular basis. Others, well, they're sort of odd, like 3D dash clusters. 

When shopping for an electric vehicle (EV), this is when you need to focus on what's important and not get sidelined by the latest feature that you might not even use. Case in point, do any of us really need a Cybertruck that floats? 

Stay on Target 

Ok, to be fair, a very heavy electric pickup that can float briefly won't really benefit you all that much if you happen to drive into a canal. It's why outside of a few stunts, no one drove their VW beetle into a body of water after Volkswagen announced that its inexpensive passenger vehicle would float. Although that ad appeared back in the early 70s, decades before anyone dreamed a car company CEO could send a tiny message to everyone in the world via a tiny networked pocket computer.

The real news here, which was really the news back when Volkswagen pulled the same bit of showmanship, is that the Cybertruck, like the Beetle before it, has a nice interior seal when you close the doors. If you're concerned about air quality, Tesla has its Bioweapon Defense Mode, a hyperbolic HEPA filter system that reduces the number of particles in the air outside the vehicle from making it inside. Great for areas with horrible air quality because of smog, fires, and, I guess, biological weapons. 

If you have respiratory issues, a vehicle that can clean the air before it gets into the cabin is a win. Of course, there are a lot of cars that do this. This is an actual real-world feature that can help drivers. Not so much floating. 

Don't get sucked in by shiny ads or weird tweets. The best features are the ones that actually benefit you. 

Your Life, Your Car

It's easy to lose sight of what's essential to your driving experience. It's important to ask yourself when, where, and how you drive. 

In the United States, we tend to buy for the edge case.

If you tend to spend a lot of time behind the wheel, comfortable seats with proper ergonomic support are essential. Figure out what works for you and find the vehicle with the seats that match that. There's nothing worse than buying a car, coming home all excited about your purchase, and a week later realizing that your spine is in agony anytime you spend more than 60 minutes behind the wheel. 

A quick call back to heated seats here. Keeping your chair warm is a far better use of your EVs energy than trying to keep the whole cabin warm. It also has the benefit of typically delivering the desired results quicker. If you have to deal with cold mornings, treat yourself to a toasty backside. 

Some things are a given. Support for CarPlay and Android Auto are essentially mandatory now. Wireless support is extra nice because you don't have to fumble with a cable just to launch Waze to figure out the best way to get to work. 

Some things should be on your radar that might not immediately seem important. For one thing, efficiency is something many people overlook in EVs in favor of total range. Check that sticker on the window to get the MPG. Like a gas car, the higher, the better, and in the long run, it's going to save you cash. 

Hyundai on a driveway near tree


If a vehicle can drive 300 miles on a charge but requires a 100 kWh capacity battery pack to do that while another vehicle can travel the same distance with a 75 kWh capacity pack, the smart choice is the smaller pack. The Hummer EV is an insane vehicle, and it's also horribly inefficient. Meanwhile, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 looks cool and gets more miles per kWh. 

What You Really Need

In the United States, we tend to buy for the edge case. We always want to be prepared for… something. It's how we ended up with a huge number of SUVs on the highway with a single occupant or pickup trucks hauling air more often than actual cargo. 

If you absolutely use the cargo space afforded by an SUV on a daily or even weekly basis, it's great that the vehicle fits into your stuff-having lifestyle. But, if you already have that large vehicle at home, maybe take a good hard look at your EV purchasing decision about what you're really going to do with that vehicle every day. If it's for quick errands around town, maybe getting the biggest vehicle you can fit in your garage isn't the best idea. 

If you maybe drive 100 miles a day about 95 percent of the time, you likely don't need something with 350 miles of range. 

It's important to ask yourself when, where, and how you drive. 

What I'm saying is to go smaller and smarter. Save yourself some money by getting the vehicle you need instead of the long-range, ultra-range monster that you're being sold by the automakers. 

EVs are expensive, and it's easy to run up the price of a new car with features that may seem but really you'll likely use only a few times in the real world. This is especially true now, with prices spiraling out of control due to supply shortages. 

If you really need a new EV right now, sit down and have a long conversation with yourself. Figure out what you really need vs. what you think is cool. It's going to be a tough talk to have, but in the long run, your wallet and your body will thank you.

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