It’s hard to believe they’re still running those ads—you know, the ones where the spouse surprises her partner with a shiny new SUV, festooned with an oversized red bow? We’re pretty sure that’s never happened in real life—but, if your family happens to be in the market for a new vehicle this year, the holidays can be a really good time to buy. And this year, more than ever, you’d do well to consider driving electric.
Buying an electric vehicle (EV) is a great way to take meaningful action toward a clean energy future. And the best part is, there are lots of new and more affordable options available as the economics of EVs continue to improve for large segments of the car-driving population.
An EV in Your Garage
Why do you need an EV in your garage? The reality is that EVs have a lot of advantages over conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Picture this: no more gas stations, transmission repairs, oil changes, or timing belt failures. Plus, you get immediate torque, a silent ride from a quiet motor, and premium performance. In a nutshell, EVs aren’t just a novel fad: they’re economical, they’re a pleasure to drive—and they’re also key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
Not convinced yet? Consider these points:
- EVs are becoming mainstream. Nationwide, EV sales are expected to hit 2 percent of the new car market this year as Tesla’s Model 3 becomes one of America’s best-selling sedans. In California, the EV share is much higher—at around 7.5 percent—and the vehicles are increasingly popular in places from the U.S. northeast to metropolitan areas of Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas, and Washington.
- EV options are expanding. With more and more options for styles, and a variety of different price ranges, your EV choices are expanding rapidly. Right now, at least 42 plug-in hybrid or battery-only EVs are on the market, and most major automakers have committed to investing in or producing new models in more categories over the next decade.
- EVs require less maintenance. If you’re like most car owners, you dread heading to the dealer and forking over your life savings to replace the timing belt, transmission, or other engine parts as they age and break. Compared to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles, EVs have far fewer moving parts. This translates into fewer trips to the mechanic and lower maintenance costs overall—as well as, of course, no more pesky oil changes.
- EVs save on fuel costs. The average U.S. household spends nearly a fifth of its total yearly expenditure on transportation. With an EV, you get the advantages of fueling up with electricity, which is less expensive than gasoline or diesel and generally has a more stable price. EVs are also far more efficient. By one estimate, driving an EV is roughly equivalent to fueling a conventional car with gas at $1 a gallon.
- EVs come with financial incentives. EVs generally cost more upfront, but they have lower total ownership costs and are increasingly price-competitive with conventional gasoline vehicles. The federal government offers substantial tax credits of $2,500 to $7,500 per vehicle, and many states also provide rebates and tax credits for both EVs and charging infrastructure. In many areas, EV drivers get free access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes.
- EV charging is getting even easier. Some battery-only EVs can reach up to 250 miles, but most range up to 100 miles on a single charge. For most of us, that’s farther than we drive in an average day, so an overnight charge at home should be sufficient. Meanwhile, new charging stations are being installed all across the country, and extreme fast chargers are under development that will make refueling even easier.
- EVs reduce air pollution. Compared to fossil-fueled vehicles, EVs release fewer net emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Driving an EV can help urban areas meet federal air quality standards for ground-level ozone, the principal component of smog.
- EVs make gas stations a thing of the past. By buying an EV instead of a gasoline-powered car, you can take real action on climate change and lead by example. Over its lifetime (from cradle to grave), an EV today causes 54 percent less carbon pollution than a comparable gas vehicle. And that number is only going to get better as our electricity grid sources more of its power from wind and solar.
These are just a few reasons why electric vehicles are generating so much interest, and are changing transportation for the better. So instead of putting another gift under the tree, maybe it’s time to drive a special (very big) one into the garage instead.