Understanding electric car charging is an important step in evaluating how electric vehicles can fit into your lifestyle. For example, gas cars require frequent trips to the gas station while electric vehicles are different. Electric cars do most of their charging overnight at home. Outside of long trips, or if you forgot to charge overnight, most electric car owners have no downtime waiting to recharge. Let us start by explaining the basics of electric car charging. After that, we will cover the basics of charging at home and on the road.
Electric Car External Chargers Explained
The first step is understanding what electric car charging is. An electric car charger can mean two different things, one being called an onboard charger and the other an external charger. For this article, we will focus on the external charger. An external charger can also be called electric vehicle supply equipment. The external charger takes AC electricity and converts it to DC power, stored in your car battery. Each external electric car charger can provide so many kilowatts per hour of electricity her hour.
Level 1 Electric Car Charging
The least-costly method to charge your electric car utilizing a standard electrical outlet, otherwise known as level 1 charging. The onboard electric charger built into your vehicle is used to plug into an electric socket. However, while level 1 charging is readily available, it charges at a rate of about 2 miles an hour of electricity. Therefore, if you have an electric car battery with a 200-mile range, it could take 100 hours to charge your car. Because of the long recharging time, level 1 charging is not recommended and used as a last resort, assuming no better options are available.
Level 2 Electric Car Charging
The most common external charger is a level 2. Level 2 chargers can be found throughout the country at hotels, malls, and even used in the home. Furthermore, level 2 chargers are a big step up from level 1 charging in that they can charge up to ten times faster. For example, a level 1 wall socket charges at a rate of 2 miles per hour. Meanwhile, a level two charger can charge around 25 to 35 miles per hour. If you plan to add a level 2 external charger to your home, you will need a dedicated 240v line.
DC Fast Chargers Explained
DC fast charging, otherwise known as direct current fast charging, is the quickest way to charge your electric car. These external chargers run between 400v to 1000v of electricity. Subsequently, these chargers can charge most electric cars to 80% battery capacity in about 20-40 minutes. DC chargers are commercially available all across the country but are too expensive for home use with a price tag of around $50,000. Many companies provide their DC fast-charging network for public use for a fee. On average, expect to pay about twice what you pay at home for a kilowatt of power. Companies like Electrify Americaand Tesla’s private Superchargerare all DC fast charging providers.
DC Fast Charging On the Road
While on the road, using DC fast chargers when on the road is a positive experience. Think of DC fast-charging stations like a gas station for electric cars. Most DC fast-charge stations are strategically placed within shopping malls or next to restaurants. So while you recharge your electric car, you can grab a bite to eat, take a bathroom break, or do some shopping. I recently took a road trip through the Mojave desert and Mesa where I stopped at DC fast charge stations,
Home Electric Car Charging Basics
The average driver commutes around 29 miles per day. Most EV batteries have a driving range of over 200 miles, which means they can handle their daily commute without charging. Therefore, electric vehicles do most of their charging home overnight. Convenient home charging requires a level 2 external charger, which can recharge the typical electric vehicle in around 8 hours.
How Much Will it Cost to Setup a Home Charger
Level 2 external chargers can range from $250 to $2,500. You can purchase a good EV charger for around $600. As for installation, you will need to hire an electrician. According to HomeAdvisor, the national installation cost for installing your EV charging station is about $456 to $1,080.
How Do I know where and when to Charge
Trip planning is relatively easy with electric cars. Within your vehicle’s infotainment system is trip planning software. For example, if you wanted to take a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, your electric car would plan your route with stops at EV charging stations along the way. With most vehicles able to go 200 plus miles on a single full battery, when you stop to charge, it lines up pretty well with when you have to stop for food or a bio break.
Plug Type Determines What DC Fast Chargers You Can Use
One thing to keep in mind is not all chargers will work with every EV. Each car manufacturer supports a specific method for EV charging. For example, Tesla has its proprietary plug, while the rest of the car manufacturers either subscribe to the CCS standard or the CHadeMO. As a result, Tesla’s plug can only work with Tesla’s DC fast chargers. However, with a cable attachment, Teslas can work ChadeMo charging stations as well.
The good news is your electric vehicle can guide you to any supported charger through the navigation and trip planning software within your infotainment system.
I hope you have a better understanding of electric car charging after reading this article. Researching your electric vehicle can be a daunting task, but help is available. Electric Driver is built to help demystify and guide you to the right electric vehicle. Visit Electric Driver or our guide to learn more on how to select the right EV.
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.
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.
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.
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 creditstarts 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 costsare 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 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.
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 email@example.com if we have not addressed your questions. Our goal is to make it easier for everyone to enjoy the benefits of electric car ownership.
Is now the right time to buy an electric car was the question on my mind back in 2018. When we were looking to buy a new car back then, there were reports of Tesla running out of cash. The company’s future was in question. In 2018, Tesla qualified for the federal tax credit, plus California, and our local utility offered additional cash rebates.
On top of that, it was uncertain if electric cars were a fad or the future of automobiles. Ultimately we switched and bought an electric vehicle and added a second one months later to become 100% electric.
Since 2018 a lot has changed in the world of electric cars. Tesla’s stock as a company took offand surpassed Facebook to become the fifth most valuable company in the S&P 500. The question is, now the right time to buy an electric car? I believe now is a great time to buy an electric vehicle. I will walk you through the considerations to think about when drawing to your own conclusion.
Electric Cars Save Money
When I was researching buying our first electric car, a question on my mind was how much money do electric cars save you? I came across an article by Loup, an electric vehicle mobility company at the time. The Loup article broke down the cost of owning a $38,900 Tesla Model 3 versus owning a $24,600 Camry. When factoring in fuel cost, taxes financing maintenance, and resale value, to my surprise, the Tesla was the cheaper vehicle to own. Over five years the Tesla was about $5,890 less to fuel and $2,800 less to maintain. On top of that, the Tesla had a higher value of $9,194 than the Camry.
You can read an updated version of the article here. As for our family, we ended up buying an electric car and switching from gas to electric. We went from paying $400 to $500 a month in gas to about $125 a month in electricity. We have also experienced much lower maintenance costs. On average, maintenance for an electric car is half of what it costs to maintain a gas vehicle.
Understanding how much money you can save with a specific electric car is important. Electric Driver has information around expected electricity and maintenance costs for each electric car model based on your location. An example of our cost-to-own breakdown is available for the
The time you save owning an electric car is something you have to feel to appreciate. The average American spends around three hours a year pumping gas alone. Add the time spent getting oil changes, regular maintenance service, and lost time adds up quickly. Owning an electric car since 2018, I have regained lost time by freeing myself of trips to the gas station and dealer.
With an electric vehicle, your charging is done at home overnight. As for maintenance electric cars, have fewer components and fewer moving parts than gas-powered cars. Electric cars, therefore, require less frequent maintenance than gas cars. Another time-saving feature has been what is called over-the-air updates. If you own an iPhone or Android device, you have experienced over-the-air updates. These updates can range from the latest version of an operating system to a software fix. Electric Cars have this same ability to update themselves just like your phone. Updates can range from minor fixes to your car, software updates, and in some cases, even performance and range increases to your electric vehicle. Each electric vehicle manufacturer handles what over-the-air updates can do, but they are another valuable time saver. If you want to recapture some of your time back, an electric vehicle can help.
Electric Cars are Good for the Environment
Many states in America in 2020 went into Covid lockdown for parts of the year. One of the silverlings of everyone staying at home as we had some of the cleanest air in years. I live near LA, a city known for smog and traffic. The Los Angeles streets were empty, and during the lockdown, we at points had the cleanest air in the world. With America now coming out of Covid and things are slowly returning to normal. Freeways and packed with cars, and air quality and temperatures are rising. We each need to consider how we can make changes to improve the environment.
Electric cars a good for the environment and a definite improvement over gas-powered cars, but they are not perfect.
The misnomer people have with electric cars is that they create no emissions. While the electric car itself does not create emissions, you create some emissions if you buy electricity from the utility.
Buying electricity shifts emissions from your tailpipe to your utility, but in general, electricity creates fewer emissions than burning gasoline.
Electricity from the Utilities Creates Emissions
Each state generates its electricity from different sources and has a different level of emissions. For example, if you were to buy your electricity within California, your power would mostly come from natural gas and renewables. Over a year, using an electric car, you would generate 1.2 tons of emissions. If you were buying electricity in Missouri, which gets most of its power from coal, you would generate 3.67 tons of emissions. Regardless of what state you live in, electric cars create fewer emissions than the 5 tons of emissions a gas car creates. The ideal solution is to buy solar panels and create clean electricity. Electric Driver provides emission information for specific models as well as electric utilities by state. Learn about the environmental impact an electric car can make based on your decisions. With climate change picking up momentum an owning an electric car is a way to lower your emissions.
Electric Vehicle Incentives
The federal government gives out an electric vehicle federal tax creditof up to $7,500. In addition, state and electric utilities may also provide additional rebates. When I bought my electric vehicle in 2018, we saw a total of $10,000 in tax credits and rebates from the federal, state, and my utility provider. Inquire to see what you are state and utility are offering in your area. Keep in mind the Federal tax credits are limited to the first 200,000 electric vehicles each car maker sells.
Transitioning to an Electric Vehicle Future
Momentum has been building for electric cars. California’s largest automotive market in the United States passed a bill banning the sale of gas cars by 2035. ten states are also in various stages of making a similar ban on gas cars as well. Makers of gas-powered cars are also making similar changes. General Motors has declared they will be transitioning to become an all-electric car company by 2035, and other carmakers are following General Motors’ lead.
We hope we address your question of if now is the right time to buy an electric car. For financial, convenience, and environmental reasons alone, we feel that electric vehicles are the way to go. To begin learning more, visit our guide on electric the right electric vehicleor go to Electric Driverif you are ready to dive in.
How much does it costs to charge an electric car is a question many prospective car buyers have. You probably have a good idea of how much it costs to fill up your tank and how many miles you can drive on a gallon. On the other hand, when it comes to an electric car, you probably have no idea how much it costs to charge an electric car; or how many miles you can travel on a kilowatt of electricity. Understanding what it costs to charge an electric car is easy. Also, keep in mind just like each gas model has its own miles per gallon, the same applies to electric vehicles. There are a few things you need to know as well as a little bit of math. We can cover the basics of charging below.
One of the first things you need to understand is the battery capacity. Battery capacity is the electric equivalent to the size of a gas tank. The larger the battery capacity you have, the more kilowatts you can store. Larger battery capacities typically lead to more distance you can cover. Another key point is that electric car batteries are the most expensive car component. So keep in mind that range comes at a premium with electric cars.
The distance you can travel on a fully charged electric battery is another consideration to take. Think driving range as to how far you could drive on a single tank of gas. Like a gas car, the answer depends on how big of a gas tank you have and have fuel-efficient your vehicle is. The larger the electric battery is, the more electricity you have, but the heavy the car becomes, offsetting some of your distance gains. Also, each electric car model has a specific efficiency. For example, our 2018 Tesla Model X can drive 237 miles on a full charge of its 75-kilowatt battery. A new 2021 Audi e-Tron goes 222 miles on a 95-kilowatt battery. The point I am making is a larger battery capacity does not mean a longer distance, as we can see with the e-Tron versus Model x example.
Miles Per Kilowatt
Just like you are used to the idea of miles per gallon of gas, I thought there should be an electric car equivalent. To help, I am introducing the concept of miles per kilowatts for electric cars. The idea here your electric vehicle will travel a certain amount of miles, spending one kilowatt of electricity. Kilowatt per mile will be different for each electric car model as they will have their own efficiency based on their configuration. Take, for example, a 2021 Tesla Model S long Range with a range of 412 on a 100 Kilowatt battery. Dividing the range (412) by the battery capacity of 100 tells us the Model S can travel around four miles per kilowatt of electricity.
Price for Kilowatt of Electricity
Think of electricity prices per kilowatt similar to the price of gas per gallon. Understanding your state utility charges will help you figure out what it will cost to fill up your battery. Say, in California, the price of a kilowatt of electricity is 22 cents. Filling up a 100-kilowatt battery would cost 22 dollars. Now keep in mind, electricity pricing will vary based on what state you are in, along with what time you buy electricity. Buying electricity late at night tends to be cheaper. Also, some utility has time-of-use programs where they charger lower rates in exchange for charging at specific times.If you own solar panels, you can create your electricity which is the ideal option.
Weather Impacts on Driving Range
The temperature can have adverse impacts on how many miles you can travel on a kilowatt of electricity. With snow and hot temperates of 95 degrees or greater, you can see a decrease in the overall distance your electric car can travel on a single charge. The decline varies based on temperate, weight, and your specific model of the electric vehicle. AAA states they have seen driving range reductions of up to 40%. However, in my experience of driving in snow and 100-degree heat, I have only seen about a 20% reduction in driving range.
Most of your Charging Happens Overnight at Home
Most of your driving will typically take place around 50 miles a day. Since most electric batteries are now edging over 200 miles and on a single charge, people charge at home overnight. Charging at home saves you money and time as all your driving is seamless, with no stops at a gas station or charging bay to refuel. However, there are some upfront costs associated with setting up a home electric car charger. First, you will need to purchase a charging station that is compatible with your car. You should get a good electric car charger for about $500 to $1,000 for the hardware. You will also need an electrician to set up the home charger for around $400 to $1,200. Check with your electric utility provider as they may offer incentives or rebates to set up an electric car charger.
Using a Commercial Electric Vehicle Charger Costs More
Most of you charging for your electric car will occur at home. However, if you are taking a long trip or forgot to charge overnight at home, a commercial charging station will be an option. Commercial charging stations will charge you more than your home rates, but the charging station could charge your electric car much faster.
$.43 per kilowatt-hour to charge your electric vehicle. While the commercial rates can be almost twice the cost of charging at home, electricity will be cheaper than gas.
Electric Driver Is Your Resource for Charging Costs
We hope you have a better understanding of how much does it costs to charge an electric car. You can calculate the charging costs by multiplying the driving range of an electric vehicle by the price per kilowatt. Alternatively, you can visit Electric Driver, where we have compiled all the electric charging and related information on our site based on the specific electric car model and location. Alternatively, If you are looking to learn more about selecting the right electric car, visit our guide.
“Let’s Meet the Electric Car of your Dreams” That right there is the tagline slathered across our homepage (at least at the time of this writing.) It’s beautiful and hard to miss. It’s more than just a tagline for us because we’re automotive matchmakers at heart. You may think all of this talk of hearts and dreams is a bit far-fetched, but we know buying a car is an emotional decision as much as it is a practical one. Still, most of us have to put a bit of that yearning aside to manage kids, trips to visit the family, sports, and the daily commute. So, for this article, I’m just going to talk about how to go about choosing a car based on solid, grown-up decision making, the kind of decision making that has lists, brochures, and maybe a bit of tire kicking. Let’s start searching for the vehicle that’s just right for you.
Don’t Ignore your Triggers
The search for a new vehicle is usually due to a trigger event such as:
the arrival of a new family member, an uncle, for instance. Just kidding. We’re talking about babies. When a baby shows up, you’ll likely need more room/seating
you have a repair/maintenance estimate that is more than your car is worth
you’ve decided your car is going to break down; you want something more reliable
you just wrecked your car. Ugh.
Whatever the trigger happens to be, it can tell you a lot about where you should focus your energy in your search for a new car. Think about why you’re shopping for a car right now and make a note of it; that’s your trigger. Triggers are often related to common vehicle-shopping criteria. Real-world trigger events drive shoppers’ desire for better safety, reliability, more seating, enhanced performance, and fuel efficiency. Please don’t ignore your triggers; they’re the root of your car-buying needs.
find a great place to research cars (Done! You’re here already, good job!)
Make a list of all of your requirements for your new car, starting with the needs based on your triggers. Don’t forget to include less critical items in your lists like sound system or cargo space at the top of the list, prioritize the triggers that have driven you to search for a new car if you can imagine buying a car without one of the top three items on your list, move that item lower on the list. Your top three should be absolute requirements you can’t live without
search for three vehicles that score the highest on those top three items and use objective information to evaluate those vehicles against your entire list of needs and wants.
A Rant about Magazine & Website Editorializing vs. Objective Data
We recommend looking at objective data and drawing your own conclusions rather than trusting the subjective opinion of folks like magazine editors or blue-checks on Twitter. Editorial articles and peanut-gallery discussions both fall short because they’re not personalized to your specific needs. Editorial content is likely often filled with subjective information because it’s good for selling magazines. Folks making commentary don’t necessarily share your needs or perspectives. It’s fine to read this stuff, but take it with a grain of salt. Empowering yourself, using facts to evaluate your needs, and drawing your own conclusions based on your research will lead to better results.
Are These the Vehicles we Need or the Vehicles we Deserve?
Once you have a few vehicles to compare, try to use as much objective information as possible. No single vehicle is perfect, so you’ll have to make trade-off decisions. For example, a particular vehicle might be the safest option but has lower scores in reliability and cost-to-drive. You’ll have to decide if you can accept those trade-offs if safety is your primary concern.
When doing your research, search for facts and numbers, not opinions. For example, if you are researching vehicle safety, look for crash test ratings to help identify safe vehicles rather than trusting an article about vehicle safety. You should evaluate each vehicle against the items on your list of needs and wants to find a vehicle with the right balance.
Weigh the trade-offs of each vehicle against your criteria. You may find that some of your candidates don’t measure up at all. Dump them, fast. You may find that you have some gut reaction against a vehicle. I say trust that gut feeling. Dump it if it doesn’t feel right. I know, I know, that’s the opposite of objective reasoning, but like I said, emotions play into this too, you shouldn’t completely ignore them. As you remove a vehicle, try to find another vehicle to take its place. Keep your group of cars down to three or so.
So, you’ve done the data crunching, weighing, balancing, comparing and contrasting,
You’ve put in all of this work, but here’s the ultimate irony: it’s time to make a decision based on your feelings. That’s right; it’s ok to make your final choice based on feelings, not numbers. By this point, you’ve likely got three decent candidates that are all pretty close to what you’re looking for. If you really feel like the numbers matter, then trust them and take the top scorer. On the other hand, if you really want car number two because it’s the only one that’s Misty Midnight Charcoal Blue and that’s your favorite color, then choose it. I bet you wouldn’t complain about driving any one of the final three away from the rental company at the airport, so there’s no bad decision at this point.
Enjoy this part of the process. No regrets. Never look back. It’s a big decision, be happy with it.
This is a car search site. You’re probably here because you want a new car. So let’s get to it already! Electric Driver is geared to help you find a car using the research method I just outlined. We’ve made it easy to search and compare vehicles based on your needs. Any time is a good time to get started, so let’s being your research today. Let’ meet the electric car of your dreams.