I made up my mind that it was time for me to get one back in 2016. Although I still had a year left on my current lease, I knew that my next car would be an EV (electric vehicle). I watched every video that I could find. I read countless blogs and articles, and I asked my EV driving friends every question that I could think of. Most of these questions consisted of “what if” scenarios because of the infamous human condition known as “range anxiety.” More on that later. I did my research, and in the late summer of 2017, I placed my order for a new EV.
Although there are several EVs on the market (more now than back then), I went with Tesla, an American made EV. I originally wanted the NEW Tesla Model 3 that had just been introduced (early 2016). It was initially projected to be delivered in a year, and I figured if I placed my order right then in 2016, it would be ready by the time my lease was up. About a month or two went by, and I had already succumbed to my fear and anxiety that it wouldn’t be built in time. There was just no guarantee that Tesla would be able to deliver my Model 3 by the fall of 2017. They had hundreds of thousands of pre-orders, and producing a new vehicle from scratch isn’t easy. I just couldn’t take it, and I canceled my order. I got my $1,000 deposit refunded and decided that if I were really going to do this, I would get the Model S instead. After all the Model S had been around since 2012 and it was proven to be a great car. It would be the most expensive car that I ever bought (leased). I wasn’t thrilled about the price, but I was excited about everything else. When I placed my order in late summer 2017, I just couldn’t stop smiling. This was it! I was finally getting the car that I had wanted for over a year. My “dream” car was delivered on time (if not a week early), and it was love at first sight. I could NEVER go back to an ICE (internal combustion engine) Vehicle.
It was everything that I dreamed it would be.
It was quiet. It was fast. It was full of tech. The 17” touch screen was amazing. It handled like a dream. Best of all, I would never need to buy gas again. About a week before taking delivery, I had my electrician install a 240V (NEMA 14-50, same plug you would use for an electric oven) plug in my garage. While you can charge an EV even with a standard 120V household outlet, it’s much faster and more energy efficient to charge at 240V. The car comes with a Mobile Connector (charger) and at the time with the necessary adapters to plug into a 120V or a 240V NEMA 14-50 plug.
I got home, and it was the first thing I tested. I wanted to make sure that I’d be able to charge my car without any issues. It worked perfectly. It was really at this moment that I would be spoiled for life. Waking up to a full charge every day and never going to a gas station again is life changing.
Let’s answer the question: Is it finally time to get an electric vehicle?
The short answer for the vast majority of you reading this post is YES. I won’t try to BS you and say that EVs are for everyone. They aren’t (yet). I also don’t have any hidden agenda about this. I don’t get paid by Tesla or any other EV manufacturer. I just want to educate those that are interested. Don’t bother telling why it’s not for you. You have your reasons, and that’s fine.
Most of the people driving cars today would definitely benefit from going with an EV. They are cheaper to operate and maintain. Like I said though, they aren’t for everyone and depending upon your situation, it might not yet be the right move for you at this time. So let’s go through the usual questions/objections and figure it out. There are really five questions that will help you decide:
1. What’s your daily commute look like?
Most EVs sold today have a range of 200-370 miles on a single charge. If you have a round trip commute each day of less than that, then you’re probably a candidate for an EV. Even if your commute is longer than that, but you have a charger friendly workplace/school, then it’s still a probability that you can drive an EV. The average daily commute in the US is 16 miles each way. That’s 32 miles just back and forth to work. Add the occasional errands during the day, and it’s probably still easily under 100 miles a day. This means that the average US commuter could charge at home or at work once a day or as needed and never need to charge anywhere else unless they were going on a long road trip.
2. Can you afford it?
One thing that seems to be a constant is the perception that EVs cost way more than regular cars. This is primarily due to people seeing the price of Tesla’s luxury models. However, EVs are now priced comparable to regular vehicles, especially when you factor in tax credits and rebates, not to mention the significant savings in not having to buy gas and what you’re paying for maintenance. A Ford Focus Electric starts at $29,120. The Hyundai IONIQ Electric starts at $29,500. The popular Nissan Leaf starts at $29,900. Even Tesla’s Model 3 now starts at $35,000 (when I tell people this they are floored). The analysts at Kelley Blue Book reported the estimated average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States was $37,577 in December 2018, which is MORE than a base Tesla Model 3. Also, keep in mind that these prices are before federal tax credits (which could be as much as $7,500) and rebates offered by some states.
If you say that these prices are still too high, then consider that there is an excellent used market for EVs. I know a couple that bought a used Nissan Leaf for well under $10,000. A colleague of mine was able to easily justify their Tesla purchase because they were spending close to $500 a month in gas.
3. What about the cost to charge it?
I charge at home 99% of the time. Luckily I live in a state where the average price per kWh is only .07-11¢. This means that my monthly electricity cost is less than $20. Even if you were paying 27¢ a kWh, it would still be a fraction of the cost of gasoline. My old car used to cost anywhere from $50-$70 a fill-up. When I got my Tesla, they offered FREE Supercharging for life. While that is no longer available, the cost of Supercharging is still significantly less than the price of gas. The price varies from state to state because the cost of electricity varies as well. I planned a trip on a favorite route planning site called abetterrouteplanner.com, and even if I had to pay for Supercharging the price was going to be $21 for the 750-mile trip. If you went with another brand of EV, there are several charging networks out there like chargepoint.com for example, and they are either FREE or very reasonably priced. In the 2 plus years of driving an EV, I have paid less than $10 total for charging outside of my home.
4. What if you can’t charge at home or have a charger installed?
This is one of the reasons where an EV might not be for you. It would really depend upon the number of miles you drive per day and the availability of public chargers in your area. I have friends in California that live in condos/apartments where they are not yet able to install a charge at home. This means that they rely on chargers at work and public charging. If your car is parked at work all day and charging, then it would be no different than charging at home at night. You would leave work each day with a full charge just like I wake up every day with a full charge. Tesla has a global charging network called Superchargers and to help with this situation they even started installing urban style Superchargers in densely populated areas where people live. These fast chargers can usually get your Tesla charged up to 80% within 20 minutes or less on average. If you go with a different brand of EV, you can use one of several other networks (Chargepoint, EVGO, Blink, Volta, etc.). With all that said, not being able to charge at home and not having access to public chargers in your area or on your commute could mean that an EV doesn’t make sense for you yet.
5. Do you have to pay to maintain the car/battery?
Here’s one of the best parts, there is little to no maintenance with an EV. No oil changes. No tune-ups. No fluids to change. No emissions tests because there are no emissions. Brake jobs? Rarely if ever do you need new brakes thanks to regenerative braking. The only maintenance is tire wear and tear. The battery is covered by an 8 year/125,000 mile warranty. As a matter of fact, if you drive a Tesla and you need something fixed on your car that can be done on site they’ll send their mobile ranger service to YOU at no additional cost!
At this point and before you go on reading the rest of this, you should have an idea whether or not an EV could be for you. Now let’s bust some of the common myths, misconceptions FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) that people spread daily:
Top EV Myths – BUSTED!
EVs can’t be used if you go on road trips beyond the car’s charge range – ie. RANGE ANXIETY.
FALSE: People drive EV’s on trips ranging from a few hundred miles to thousands of miles and even cross country all the time. Admittedly, it’s a lot easier with a Tesla since Tesla has an established worldwide fast-charging Supercharger network and the stops are built-in to the car’s GPS when you plan a trip. However, people driving other EV brands make road trips too. They may have to do a little more work up front to figure out where to stop and charge along the way using a route planner, and yes the other networks have fast chargers too. Most hotels offer FREE EV charging as well.
Range Anxiety is probably the number one fear that non/new EV users face. I had it too before I got my Tesla. Once I made my first road trip (Atlanta to Tampa and back), my range anxiety was cured. Not a single issue on the road or charging along the way. I didn’t have to stop any more than I would have in an ICE car for restroom breaks, meals, leg stretching, etc. For the first few months I would charge my car everywhere I could, even out running errands. I figured why not, especially if it was a spot that offered free charging? Then I realized I was just wasting my time. My car has plenty of range to get me through every day without having to stop and charge. Now I just drive and enjoy my car. If I’m going to be parked somewhere for several hours at an event for example AND they have free charging with plenty of stalls as not to take a spot away from someone that might really need it, I’ll charge, but otherwise, I don’t even bother to plug-in.
EVs are worse for the environment than regular cars.
WRONG: This one has been debunked several times. First of all, EVs have zero emissions, and while electricity can come from coal-based power plants, it can also be generated via renewable sources like solar. Batteries can also be recycled once they have they are past their life span. Let’s not even get into how oil is refined, shipped and delivered before you can even put it in your car as gasoline. See more about how this myth was debunked here and in this video.
EVs have slow acceleration.
LAUGHABLY FALSE: It’s actually the opposite. EVs typically have instant torque and acceleration, usually blowing the doors off traditional cars.
EVs can’t be used in cold climates.
MOSTLY FALSE: This is not true. People drive EVs in the winter/snowy states/climates all the time. The downside is that you may lose up to 40% of your range on a charge if you’re driving in frigid temperatures. The EV still works fine, it just may not go as far on a single charge as it would in warmer temperatures.
EVs have severely limited range and take days to charge.
MOSTLY FALSE: This comes from old, outdated info. It couldn’t be further from the truth today. While the initial EVs to hit the market years ago had less than half the range of today’s models, the average range of an EV being sold today is 200-370 (update: now over 400) miles of range. The slowest charge you’d ever get is charging on a basic 120V outlet (Level 1), and yes that would be anywhere from 4-6 miles of range per hour. So I guess technically it could take more than a day to charge an EV with an empty battery at that rate to a full charge. However, this is just not the norm. Most EV users charge on Level 2 (240V) chargers daily. The rate for Level 2 is anywhere from 20-45 miles or range per hour. This means that worst-case scenario for most EV drivers it would be an overnight charge of 6-10 hours on an empty battery. Level 3 (also known as DC fast chargers) like Tesla’s Superchargers can charge at a rate of 200-600 miles of range per hour. (The NEW Supercharger Version 3 can charge up to 1,000 miles of range per hour.)
Side Note: Rarely do EV drivers get down to a less than 20% state of charge. On a daily basis, your battery would not usually go down past 50% on average. This means that you wouldn’t need to charge more than a few hours to charge up each day or so. I plug in each night when I come in for the day, and it’s usually charged up to the 90% limit I set within a couple of hours before I even go to bed. People with short daily commutes can and do use slow Level 1 chargers, and since they don’t need more than 20-50 miles of range per day, this works out fine for them overnight.
EVs run out of battery and leave you stranded.
HUH?: For this to happen, you would have to ignore all warnings that the car gives you completely. It would be like unexpectedly running out of gas. It doesn’t happen. Your car alerted you that your fuel level was low and you ignored it. Same goes for an EV. In two years, I’ve never come close to running out of battery or being stranded, let alone it happening “unexpectedly.” My car would alert me that I didn’t have enough battery to make it to my destination and automatically route me to an available Supercharger (Level 3) or Destination (Level 2) charger.
It’s hard to find a place to charge.
FALSE: If you charge at home/work chances are you’ll rarely need to find a public place to charge. Imagine if you had a gas pump in your garage/on your property and you could top off every night. How often would you go to a gas station? However, if you’re out and about or perhaps forgot to plug in the night before, there are thousands of public places to charge.
Many of them are FREE to use. If you wanted to get an idea of how many available chargers there are in any given area, search plugshare.com for the area you want to check (they also have a mobile app).
It takes months if not years, to get a Tesla.
FALSE: While it did take a couple of years for some to get their Model 3s, Tesla is in full production now on Model 3, Model Y, Model S and Model X. They are delivering over 1,000 cars per day now. Most new orders are filled within two to four weeks, and if the model you want is in inventory, it could take as little as a couple of days.
The bottom line
I haven’t regretted my decision to get an EV once. I could never see going back to a gasoline based vehicle. I also like the side perk of HOV lane access. We are now a completely EV household with two Teslas, a 2017 Model S (245 miles of range) and a 2018 Model 3 (310 miles of range). I’m definitely a fan of Tesla. Whether you like Tesla, hate Tesla or have no feeling one way or the other, It doesn’t matter because there are more choices now than ever and more coming out each year. Tesla Model Y is here for those looking for a bigger vehicle that is bigger than Model 3 and less expensive than Model X. Ford has its new Mustang Mach-E, Jaguar has its new I-PACE, Audi has its new e-tron and a few pickup trucks are coming soon (see Rivian).
UPDATE: When my lease ended on my Model S in 2020, I leased a new Model 3. See that story here.
I feel that Tesla has the advantage over the other manufacturers right now because they laid the groundwork years ago by building out their worldwide fast-charging network and they continue to add new ones weekly. They also were the first to build a great looking EV with decent range. They lead the EV market with self-driving features and my favorite feature, which is over-the-air (OTA) updates.
I never had a car that got better each month after I bought it. Our cars get new features and enhancements regularly. Not to mention being able to control it from my smartphone or my Apple Watch.
As I said, there is no way I could go back. Every major car manufacturer is either working on bringing out more EVs or even going as far as to declare that they will only build EVs by a specific date. It’s not really a question of if you should buy an EV, it’s more like when?
If you do decide to go with a Tesla, you can get free Supercharging by ordering with this link.