Yes, You Can Buy a New EV Without Getting Totally Ripped Off—What to Know

Research, research, research, and wait a while if you can

A friend recently reached out about buying a new car. My immediate response was, "this is the absolute worst time to purchase a vehicle." I pointed out all the usual issues about the supply chain and how, if we're lucky, it'll be a year before everything gets back to normal. Whatever that may be. 

A sales person talking to a couple in a car dealership.

Maskot / Getty Images

Of course, that information doesn't help those folks who might need to buy a new vehicle. A single-car family with a car that's been in a collision or is beyond repair can't wait 12 months (or longer) for the market to settle itself. They've been eyeing an EV, and now they figure if they have to buy something new, it might as well be powered by electrons instead of fossil fuels. 

If that's the issue for you or a friend or family member, here are a few tips on how to navigate the EV seller's market. 

Mind The Markup

Follow any automotive publication, and eventually, you'll see an article about an insane market for a vehicle. Typically it's for a high-demand automobile that's probably new to the market. The Ford Bronco comes to mind. But it's not just nostalgia-based SUVs that are prone to insane markups added to a car above the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). The Ford F-150 Lightning and Hyundai Ioniq 5 are both in high demand, and if we've learned anything from economics 101, it's that supply and demand set the rate for an item. There's a ton of demand and very little supply. 

That's not to say that all dealerships are trying to squeeze every extra dollar they can out of you. Some have either added no markup or something that's not so insane it requires an article in the press. 

One of the best new tools to figure out which dealer is charging what for a vehicle is A crowd-sourced site that reports on the insane markups (or lack thereof) of dealerships. It can help you steer clear of some of the more horrible showrooms with $10,000 markups on vehicles and give you a good selection of places that might actually want your business without trying to bleed you dry. 

Yes, you can get an EV right now without being ripped off. But it's going to take a lot of patience, research, and compromise.

Do Your Research is a great start, but even if you find a dealership that seems willing to work with you, you still need to do some research. Check their reviews and scour social media for testimonials from recent customers. is only as good as the information it’s fed, and frankly, if a dealership is willing to charge an outrageous price tag over MSRP, they’re likely happy to spread fake information on a crowdsourced site. 

If it seems too good to be true, sadly, that might be the case. 

Look for Transparency

When I was looking for a Kona Electric, I emailed a bunch of dealerships about it and other vehicles. If a dealer replied with the price of the car I was interested in, they immediately got my attention. I say this because more than half the dealerships refused to quote me the price of a car. That's a red flag. 

I was corresponding with these dealerships about vehicles they currently had on the lot. Or at least they advertised that they had the vehicle on the lot. I'm really not even sure if the car existed because even after multiple emails and/or phone calls, some of these businesses refused to give me a price. 

I was typically told that they like to suss that out when I was there in person. Yeah, that's not how this works. If they can't tell you a price, it's because it's far above MSRP, and they want to get you into the showroom to pressure you into spending too much money. 

Someone plugging the charger into an EV in a car showroom.

Caia Image / Getty Images

If they can't be transparent about the prices of their vehicles online or via phone or email, they don't deserve your business. 

Patience and Selection

It would be great if folks could get the exact car they wanted right now at a fair price. Sadly, that's going to be tough. 

This is the time of patience because you're going to need a lot of it. Even if you order a car and the dealership promises (in writing!) there will be no markups, you're going to have to wait. Building cars is taking longer than ever, and some manufacturers are quoting wait times that are months and months out. 

If you can wait, that's great. If not, you might have to take what's available on the lot. 

That also means not getting the brand new hotness in the EV world. Instead of a Kia EV6, you might be better off getting a Niro EV. Both vehicles are great but yeah, the EV6 is better. That's why it's tough to get one. 

Even if you can find the EV you want, the color and trim level might not be what you're looking for. Again, it's tough out there, and you might have to settle. 

A line of new cars in a factory.

3alexd / Getty Images

Oh, you also might need to travel. Who doesn't love a good road trip? Expand the area where you're looking. You might find the exact car you want a few hundred miles away. It's not ideal, but at least you'll get a crash course on how well the charging network works in your area. 

Maybe Buy Direct 

Finally, Tesla was right. They decided to sell directly to the customer, and because of that, you’re not going to get ripped off by a dealership. That's, of course, if you want a Tesla. Polestar has a similar model. Again, that’s if you want a Polestar. Vehicles from both automakers will take a while to build. So get ready to wait. 

So yes, you can get an EV right now without being ripped off. But it's going to take a lot of patience, research, and compromise. Hopefully, we’ll come out of this mess in the next 12 months. But until then, good luck out there. You’ll need it.

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