What to know when you want to buy electric car
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4 Things to Know Before Buying an Electric Vehicle (EV)

Kimberly Hutchings
January 5, 2023

In recent years, electric vehicles have become an increasingly popular car choice amongst drivers, both for their positive environmental impact and lower day-to-day maintenance costs.

In California alone, 50% of greenhouse gas emissions currently come from transportation. Making the swap to an EV is a big way that consumers can help scale down emissions while simultaneously reducing a broader reliance on fossil fuels. (Plus, they just look cool!) 

So cool, in fact, that California has even planned to officially phase out the sale of gas-powered vehicles entirely by 2035, with all new passenger cars required to be zero-emissions in just over ten years' time. 

From the prolific Tesla to the Chevrolet Bolt EV, more and more options are coming to the market every year that enable consumers to go electric — but with all of the buzz, what do you need to consider before making the swap? Here are four essential things to know about today's electric vehicles.

What to know before buying an EV

buy electric car to reduce carbon footprint

1. Electric Vehicles (EVs) are more efficient than traditional gas-powered vehicles.

According to the US Department of Energy, fully electric vehicles convert more than "77% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels." This is in direct contrast with traditional gas-powered vehicles that only convert around 12-30% of the energy stored within gasoline. That's an increase in efficiency of nearly 50%! 

A fully electric vehicle also requires no gas to operate, which eliminates tailpipe emissions entirely, but even hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) can make a huge difference. Relying on electric-drive technologies working in tandem with a reduced amount of gas, hybrid electric cars repurpose energy often lost in traditional gas-powered vehicles to enhance efficiency. In addition, the option to rely on both gas and electrical power makes them a great first step for anyone thinking of moving to an electric vehicle but isn't sure they want to make the complete switch just yet.

Also important to consider, just because EVs eliminate tailpipe emissions doesn't mean they're entirely clean. Therefore, it's also essential to consider the primary energy sources in your area when determining the impact your electric vehicle may have on overall efficiency. In areas where cleaner energy sources are more prominent, such as hydro, solar, or wind power, electric cars are more likely to have a more significant impact on reducing overall emissions. In contrast though, if you live in an area where electricity is more reliant on non-renewable sources like coal or natural gas, this impact may be reduced.

2. Pricing will continue to become more competitive in the coming years.

It's no secret that the initial cost of purchasing an electric vehicle can be pretty high, but current trends show that this is beginning to change. As more and more EVs are produced, and a larger number of manufacturers are getting on board with making the switch, increasing access is leading to a decline in upfront prices.

In addition, there's also the important consideration of lower maintenance costs. Generally, electric vehicles are easier and less costly to maintain than traditional gas-powered vehicles. They typically have fewer parts to worry about, continued technological developments are leading to more extended battery lives *and* you can say goodbye to oil changes! These little differences can amount to substantial long-term cost savings, so it's relevant to factor them into your purchasing decision!

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3. It's important to consider your driving habits if you want to avoid "range anxiety."

For many new purchasers of electric vehicles, driving range is one of the biggest concerns. Knowing how far your electric car can travel and what kind of access you'll have to charging stations can hugely influence your buying choice. For example, suppose you're frequently driving long distances. In that case, you'll want a vehicle with a longer driving range or a hybrid electric driving option, especially if you're traveling through areas where charging access may be limited.

On average, today's electric vehicles can cover a distance of roughly 200 miles without needing a charge, but of course, this varies significantly between models. The best tip we can give is to research and take the time to understand your personal needs when deciding which vehicle type is right for you.

Luckily, charging at home is a convenient option for many and accounts for about 75% of EV charges (although installing at-home charging stations comes with its own costs). Additionally, many communities now offer a range of public charging options that make topping up on the go increasingly convenient. In fact, Google Maps even has an Electric Vehicle Charging feature that will show you the closest spots to recharge with the simple tap of a finger!

4. You can save money through federal tax incentives.  

As we mentioned earlier, the increased upfront cost of purchasing an electric vehicle is a substantial consideration when deciding to switch to a zero-emissions model for many consumers. Still, there are a few ways you can save!

Anyone buying a new plug-in electric vehicle (EV) in 2023 and beyond may be able to claim a clean vehicle tax credit on their annual tax return. This credit, which can range as high as $7,500, covers various electric vehicle options and is a great way to help subsidize the initial cost of purchase.

It's important to remember, however, that this credit is nonrefundable, meaning that you can only use it to take away from money owed in taxes rather than redeem it for cash value. It also does not carry forward to future years, so its benefit can vary depending on personal circumstances. 

To find out if your electric vehicle qualifies for a tax credit, you can visit the IRS website for the most up-to-date information and the US Department of Energy website here to find state-specific incentives. You'll also find information on credits for used clean vehicle purchases and vehicles purchased before 2023 on the IRS website.

ohmconnect can help you save money when you buy electric car

Looking for more ways to get rewarded for saving energy? Become an OhmConnect member

OhmConnect is a program that rewards you for using less energy in your home. They'll alert you to times when electricity is most expensive and polluting in your area, allowing you to plan your power usage (like choosing when to charge your EV) and save. 

Plus, as a free member, OhmConnect will take the energy you save and sell it back to the grid, sharing the profits with you. That means money back in your wallet, simply for living a more eco-friendly lifestyle! Learn more and sign-up today by clicking here.

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