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Researching Electric Cars

Selecting the Right Electric Car

Start with Needs

Selecting the right electric car can be a daunting task. The trick is to find the right car that most closely meets your needs. In this article, we will cover what to look for and show you how to find the right electric car.

When our Toyota Highlander incurred several thousand dollars in repairs, our family considered buying a new car instead of sinking more money into the aging SUV. Owning a Highlander for several years, we understood what we would want in our next car. Our list of needs would serve as the means to evaluate and select our next car. 

 

Our List of Electric Car Needs

  • Safety: We wanted a safe car that could protect our son in the event of an accident. Safety was a must for us.
  • Low Cost to Drive: We spent $400 to $500 per month on gasoline (We live in California). We had a long commute and were looking to bring our monthly driving costs down.
  • Reliability: Between picking up our son from school, shuttling him to his activities, and driving to and from work, our family needed a car that would be worry-free.
  • Environment: Driving a car that emitted reduced carbon emissions was something we wanted to achieve.
  • Seating: We needed a car that could seat seven people. In addition to our nuclear family, we were often driving with members of our extended family and needed extra seating.
  • Range: We needed at least 200 miles on a single charge. Using 200 miles would support our daily driving needs and allow us to take a few longer road trips as well.
  • Money: Using how much we could afford provided a filter that allowed us to focus on a smaller car set.

 

Build Your List of Electric Car Needs

Like us, whenever you consider buying a new car, you have to figure out what is important to you. Your list of needs will be the lens that helps you decide which car best meets your needs. When we went through this process, it was difficult. We had to go to countless car websites to compare and contrast our wants with what was available in every car we looked at. 

Going through the process of selecting the right electric car for our family made me think there has to be an easier way to do this. While the trick is to start and figure out which automobiles meet your needs, the described method above is inefficient. It took us researching several models before we ended up selecting the right electric car that met our family’s needs. The good news is there is a better way to find the right electric car that meets your needs, called Electric Driver. 

The difficulties I experienced buying an electric car inspired me to create Electric Driver to provide an easier way to find the right electric car.

 

When is the Right Time to Buy an Electric Car?

 When to buy an electric carwas something my wife and I debated at the time. Back in 2018, the tax rebates (Tesla no longer qualifies for a tax rebate) along with our need for a family car are what drove us to make our purchase. Today there are new dynamics that make buying an electric car an easy decision. First is that in Europe and the United States, there is a movement to ban the sale of gas-powered cars eventually.

California is the largest electric car market in the United States. California has declared it will ban the sale of gas-powered cars starting 2035. At the time of writing this article, Washington, New York, and nine other states have urged the federal government to pass legislation to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035.

Manufacturers of gas-powered cars have also begun to make electric cars. General Motors was the first such carmaker to declare it will become an all-electric carmaker by 2035. Cleaner air is another reason to consider making the switch now to electric cars.

 

Develop Your Initial List of Car Candidates

Once you have your list of needs along with your three to four cars, you will need to see how these cars do against your list of needs. The best way to begin your validation is to research online and see which cars meet your needs; Electric Driver does this for you. Otherwise,

you will need to create a starting list of car candidates. Typically people make their initial list of three to four cars candidates based on past experiences (Say riding in a co-worker’s car), advertisements, or past conversations from friends. While the trick here is to create a starting point for yourself to validate if these candidate cars are suitable for your needs, there is a better approach.

Electric Driver needs-based search page
Using a needs-based search is the first step on the path to selecting the right electric vehicle.

 

Researching the Right Electric Car

Now that you have your list of needs and starting set of car contenders in hand, the next step is to begin researching. Searching online is the way to go, and for automobiles in general, there are many resources from car review sites, YouTube, to social media. However, when it comes to electric cars, information is harder to come by.

 

Car Sites Business Model Works against Shoppers Needs

Car websites, in general, make their money by displaying advertisements. As of 2021, electric cars only make up around two percent of automotive sales. Therefore, car websites do not dedicate the mindshare needed to cover electric cars adequately since most of the money is in gas-powered cars.

 

Another problem is automotive websites online get paid to show you as many display ads as possible and therefore have an incentive to show you as many pages as possible.

Electric Driver is different in that we do not display and get paid to sell ad impressions. Our model is one where we do not make any money until you decide to buy from our partners. Our goal is the make researching and selecting the right electric car easy and as transparent as possible.

 

Car Sites Search Does a Poor Job of Helping You Find the Right Electric Car

Another disconnect is around automotive search. Your goal as a shopper is to find cars that best match your needs. Like, show me the safest, most reliable six-seaters that go 200 miles for under $60,000. Currently, car websites use two search methods. Search by car body style (Sedan, Truck) or search by specific car model (Tesla. Model 3). The problem with search by body style or model is they force you to spend more sifting through numerous pages of information looking to find which cars match your needs. Furthermore, unless you look at every car and take copious notes, you could have a blind spot and miss out on selecting the right electric car that meets your needs.

 

Selecting the Right Electric Car

Selecting the right electric car starts with the proper method of search. Electric Driver has developed a new way to search for electric cars based on your list of needs. First, you tell Electric Driver what needs are important to you like I need a safe, dependable electric car with some zip that seats six for under $60,000. Electric Driver then searches all available electric cars against your needs and shows you the cars that best meet your needs.

 

We Think in Terms of Comparisons and Trade-Offs

Whenever we make decisions, we think in terms of comparisons and trade-offs. For example, if you are going to buy a house, you have your list of what is important to you, and you are evaluating a few homes against your list. One home may have a great location but not be in the best condition. The other house is move-in ready, but the neighborhood is not as good. As consumers, we look at trade-offs between our options and determine what decision best meets our unique needs. 

Car sites today don’t subscribe to how consumers think. Instead, they send consumers down individual car pages and force them to figure out what electric cars are suitable candidates and identify and weigh trade-offs on their own.

 

Electric Driver Compares and Evaluates

We at Electric Driver wanted to change things up and created a new way to research that aligns with how you as a shopper think. First, you provide your list of needs. Electric Driver searches all available electric cars that meet your needs and show you the top three cars that best meet your needs. Electric Driver also helps you compare each car against your needs helping you understand trade-offs so you can make more informed decisions. Also, if you want to swap out an electric car with another candidate, you can easily do so. Our comparison and trade-off tools help you minimize blind spots, objectively show you your options, and saves you time. We feel needs-based search and matching helps shoppers in selecting the right electric car.

Electric Driver comparison page helps you evaluate trade-offs and find the right car
Comparison page using needs-based matching shows you electric cars that meet your needs.

 

New Versus Used Electric Cars

Another factor to consider is if you should buy a new or used electric car. With a new electric car, you get peace of mind with a warranty and the latest technology, but you pay a premium. If you are willing to consider a used electric car that is either still under full warranty or still has a valid battery warranty, you could score some real value. An example is we bought a new base model Tesla Model X in 2018 for around $90,000. In 2020 we had two friends buy a top-of-the-line 2016Tesla Model X performance edition for about $55,000. Used car pricing is variable, but it can be a great deal. My advice is if you consider a used electric car, look for one that still has a battery warranty. The electric car battery is the most expensive item to replace. A used electric car with a battery warranty provides peace of mind.

 

Geography Matters for Electric Cars

Geography matters in several ways. First of all, if you live in a part of the country with extreme temperatures, say snow or heat upwards of 95 degrees, you could see a  reduction in driving range. Also, if you live in a rural area, you could have little to no charging infrastructure outside your home. 

 

Electric Car Rebates and Tax Credits

Another factor when it comes to selecting the right electric car is rebates and tax breaks. The federal government has tax breaks for manufacturers for the first 200,000 electric cars they sell. The federal electric car tax credit starts at $7500 and decreases the closer a car maker gets to sell 200,000 electric cars. In addition, some states and electric utilities provide electric car rebates. Check with your state or electric utility to see if they provide incentives or rebates.

 

Learning More About Your Prospective Electric Car

Once you have identified your leading candidate, the next step is how this car fits your lifestyle. If this is your first electric car, conducting the appropriate research becomes more challenging. Most first-time buyers don’t know what questions to ask. However, we have you covered here as we have compiled a list of questions to help you make a more informed decision.

 

Can I Afford to Own an Electric Car?

To figure out if you can afford an electric car, you need to determine what costs you will incur once you own it. Electric vehicles may not be as expensive as you think. For example, prior to buying our Tesla Model X, we paid $1,000 a month in car payments plus $400 to $500 per month in gas. Doing the math showed us we could afford the Model X, even though it was $50,000 more than our Highlander. Our car payments came out to about $1,200 a month, with an additional $125 a month in electricity. Buying a $90,000 Tesla was possible due to the savings in buying electricity and a longer-term loan.We went from spending $1,400 to $1,500 a month to $1,325 a month.

Common questions first-time electric car shoppers have is what it will cost to charge and maintain my new electric car? Electricity costs are around one-third less than gas, depending on your state and electric car model. Maintenance costs are, on average, half of what it costs to maintain a gas-powered car. Visit Electric Driver to learn more about the estimated costs of owning an electric car.

Electric Driver 2021 Ford Mustang March E page
Electric Driver vehicle page showing affordability of 2021 Mustang March E

 

Electric Car Specifications

Once you find an electric car, you can afford it and meets your needs. The next step is to do a deeper dive. Understanding some of the details will help you visualize how this electric car can fit into your life. Electric Driver provides crash test ratings and recall and complaint issues from the National Highway Traffic Safety. Administration to give you an unbiased view of the car you are considering.

 

Electric Car Home Charging

Electric cars skip the gas station and do most of their charging at home overnight. This saves you time and money. You also no longer have to do oil changers every six months. If you would like to charge at home, you will need to purchase a home charging station. Home charging stations and installation can cost you anywhere from $560 to $2,800 for hardware and installation. Check with your electric utility as they may provide rebates or incentives for installing an electric car home charger. Electric Driver provides suitable home charging options as well as installation estimates.

 

Electric Car Charging Availability

Most daily commutes take place within 50 miles of your home. Therefore, if you did not charge your car overnight, you would need to charge away from home. Electric Driver shows you compatible charging locations

within 50 miles away from home so you can determine if you live in an electric car-friendly area.

 

Electric Cars and the Environment

Driving an electric car reduces emissions. Reducing emissions, however, depends on what state you live in and whether your electricity comes from the utility or solar. For example, electricity generated from Missouri comes from coal. California creates a majority of its electricity from natural gas and renewables and produces fewer emissions. Electric Driver shows where your electricity comes from and the environmental impacts of switching to an electric car. 

 

Infotainment and Driver Assisted Technologies

Advanced driver-assistance systems, also known as autopilot, is a feature that helps drivers with the functions of driving a car. Some autopilots can read traffic signs, and some can help you change lanes. Not all autopilot systems do the same things, however.

Infotainment systems are the information and entertainment hub of your vehicle. Some infotainment systems can stream movies. Others infotainment systems provide over-the-air updates (think of your mobile phone receiving software updates). Electric Driver includes information to help you understand some of these capabilities and the benefits they provide.

 

Parting Words

For us buying an electric car was not only cost-effective, but it also lowered our emissions and saved us time. Once you experience owning an electric car, it is hard to go back to a gas-powered car.

Hopefully, this article provided some direction on selecting the right electric car. Visit Electric Driver to learn more about electric cars and get personalized information tailored to your needs. Please use our feedback form on the site or email info@electricdriver.co if we have not addressed your questions. Our goal is to make it easier for everyone to enjoy the benefits of electric car ownership.