Top 7 reasons for considering an electric vehicle today

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Why are car buyers getting more enthused about their electric vehicles? Here’s seven reasons why.

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Union of Concerned Scientists

You may have heard a lot recently about electric vehicles (EVs). Sales of EVs are up, manufacturers are beginning to offer a variety of EV models – from sportscars to sedans – and our recent analysis found that 42 percent of American households with a vehicle could use an EV.

So, why are car buyers getting more enthused about EVs? Since I’m not an EV owner myself (I continue to rely on my 25 year old Panasonic “collectors” bicycle – and by “collectors” I mean rusting hunk of Japanese steel), I asked UCS members who drive EVs what they like about driving on electricity. Read on to hear their stories and find out the top 7 reasons to consider an EV.

#1 Cheaper to Fuel

Like saving money? Of course you do.  EVs are dramatically cheaper to fuel than their gasoline counterparts. UCS analysis has shown that driving 100 miles on electricity costs an average of $3.45 compared to driving the same distance on gasoline, which would set you back $13.52.  Over the average lifetime of a vehicle, these fuel savings swell to nearly $13,000 for EV owners.

“I have owned a Nissan Leaf for 2 years. The electricity cost is about 2 cents a mile. Solar panels on the rear roof supply the power for the headlights, dash lights, radio, CD player, and computer electronics.” Luke – Jackson, MS

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 #2 Less Volatile Fuel Prices

The average national price of electricity has remained fairly static over the last decade, whereas the global oil market has caused the average price of gasoline to rise, drop, spike, dip, and rise again over the same time period. Driving on electricity can help safeguard you from future spikes in the average price of gasoline and help families plan for how much money will be spent on fuel in the future. Note that the graph below is pulled from our Half the Oil Benefits report, which can be accessed here.

 

#3 Less Maintenance

Despite being an advanced technology, EVs are remarkably simple to maintain. EV engines have fewer moving parts compared to their conventional vehicle counterparts, and you can forget about oil changes in battery electric vehicles. Brake pads will also require periodic maintenance, but not nearly as often as conventional vehicles since EVs use brakes less thanks to regenerative braking. Though quantifying maintenance costs is difficult since newer EVs have not been on the roads as long as conventional vehicles, this particular study found that EV maintenance can cost 35 percent less than a conventional vehicle.

“We live in Northern Idaho and have put on over 7,000 miles on our Nissan LEAF in the first year, driving it without any problems year round, even through the snow. We love our LEAF and have not had any service problems with it.” Nikki and Benjamin – Coeur d’ Alene, ID

#4 Driving Performance

EVs are straight up zippy. An electric engine generates instant torque (or turning force) whereas an internal combustion motor has a curve of torque that increases in tandem with engine revolutions per minute (rpm).

Original graph found via: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=229120&dfpPParams=aid_229120&dfpLayout=article

Original graph found via: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=229120&dfpPParams=aid_229120&dfpLayout=article

This means that EVs get off the line quicker than my Uncle Chuck’s ‘96 Chevy Camaro. Check out the world’s fastest accelerating street legal EV zap the doors off muscle cars and imports in this video below.

#5 Fewer Emissions

When running on electricity, EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions. Of course, there are emissions associated with the electricity that is used to charge an EV, and these “upstream” emissions are an important part of the equation when comparing the overall emissions, or “well-to-wheels,” calculation of EVs. UCS analysis has found that no matter where you plug an EV in, even if it’s in a region dominated by relatively dirty power – like coal – the emissions produced by an EV are less than the emissions of an average compact conventional vehicle. And, as America’s electricity grids become cleaner and fueled by more renewable energy – like solar and wind power – charging EVs will become even cleaner.

 “My husband and I recently leased a Nissan LEAF and think it’s GREAT! Our friends are amazed the first time they ride in it and are of course impressed that no gasoline or oil is required (not to mention no emission inspection). The world needs to know that electric car technology is NOW – not somewhere off in the future.” Pat –  Pittsburgh, PA

#6 EVs are getting cheaper

Though the cost of many EVs is still at a relative premium, the price of new EVs has begun to come down. The Nissan LEAF experienced a large price cut in 2013, going from $35,200 to $28,800 before shipping and tax credits, and Chevrolet just announced that the 2014 Volt will get a $5,000 price cut compared to previous models. Moreover, car shoppers can still take advantage of the $7,500 federal EV tax credit and even more state-level tax credits or rebates. Illinois residents, for example, can receive up to an additional $4,000 off a qualifying EV, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick just announced a new EV rebate program of up to $2,500 per vehicle.

“I purchased a Chevy Volt in 2011 and have only fueled up with gasoline twice! Driving on electricity has been trouble free and I haven’t even noticed any significant changes in my electricity bill.” Mark – Atlanta, GA

#7 Less oil use

We all know the problems our oil uses causes, and that is why EVs are an essential part ofour plan to cut the nation’s oil use in half in twenty years. EVs can save us nearly 1.5 million barrels of oil per day in 2035, and are going to continue rolling out as more drivers become comfortable with driving on electricity. Check out more about electric vehicles on our website, and find out how you can become part of a Half the Oil future.

 

Source: UCSUSA. Reproduced with permission.

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6 Comments
  1. Aus 5 years ago

    For us Australian’s… a quick comparison using VIC as a test state that I did.

    Mazda 3 ($24,000 new), $1.55 AUD per litre for petrol. 50L tank. 15,000km’s per year.
    Fuel: $1,550
    Maintenance: $500 (this is an average over 10 years including tyres, service etc)
    Registration: $700
    Full Comp Insurance (GIO $850 Excess): $800
    = Total Yearly Cost: $3,550
    = Total 10 Year Cost: $35,550

    Nissan Leaf ($40,000 new), $0.19/kWh of electricity. 24kWh battery. 15,000km’s per year.
    Electricity: $400
    Maintenance: $325 (35% less using research mentioned above)
    Registration: $600 ($100 discount in VIC for electric cars)
    Full Comp Insurance (GIO $850 Excess): $1,000
    = Total Yearly Cost: $2325
    = Total 10 Year Cost: $23,250

    So that’s a saving of roughly $1,225 per year (or $12,250 per 10 years) but you suffer up front due to the $40,000 vs $24,000 ($16,000 difference) price tag of the Leaf. Still, given that oil prices are likely to rise much faster than electricity prices, it would quite likely turn out about even after 10 years of ownership. It’d cost $16k more for the Leaf but you’d then save $12k+ over the 10 years.

    If you’re considering buying a new car for anything even close to $40,000 (or even $30,000) then the decision to get the Leaf is a no brainer. Most people have two cars as well so the whole “range” issue doesn’t matter because you can still take the other car on long family trips if needed.

    Oh and Josh, whilst this piece is excellent you forgot one thing!

    #8 Be Able To Control Your Car Remotely
    With electric cars, you can remotely (usually by mobile apps) control things in your car. You can set it to heat up on a cold morning before you go out or cool down during a hot day so that it’s always comfy when you get in it. This is possible with electric cars as they don’t have to have an engine running to cool/heat the car. Also you can often turn lights on, open sun roofs, check battery levels, check charging levels and more with the apps.

    • Peter Campbell 5 years ago

      Or buy one of the 10 ex-demo, very low milage Mitusbishi iMiEVs on Carsales.com.au at the moment. The going price is $24K regardless of some asking for more. At that price you would be saving money from day one in the above comparison. Pay the extra few cents/kWh for 100% GreenPower of course. It is still cheaper than running a petrol car.

      • Aus 5 years ago

        I did do the comparison for multiple cars (including the MiEV, Tesla Model S and Mazda 2’s etc) but you also have to realise that the MiEV and the Leaf are quite different cars where most people are concerned.

        Sure, the price might be $20,000 cheaper, but the MiEV (to me at least) is far uglier than the Leaf and more like maybe a Mazda 2 or Honda Jazz?

        When you compare it to a Mazda 2’s (~$15,000 new) you’re still spending $10,000 more upfront even considering that the Mazda 2 is better looking (I’d imagine most would agree yes?) and that you’re comparing a NEW Mazda 2 vs a 2nd hand MiEV.

        Once the price of the Leaf/MiEV comes down by ~$10,000 or so though I’d expect them to really start competing hard with ICE cars. Once they can match (or almost match) ICE cars on up front costs it should just be a free for all on consumers realising how much better, cheaper and more environmentally friendly they are. Game, set, match.

        Oh and Josh I thought of one more!

        #9 No More Going To Fill Up The Car With Petrol!
        Filling up the car with petrol is a PITA! Electric cars just plug in when you get home (just like a mobile at night) and it’s all full the next morning! No more wasting time at stinky, dirty overly expensive petrol stations when you’re supposed to be somewhere else. I wonder how long it’ll be until the BP’s and Coles Express type stations start to get hit just like the Energy Companies are being hit now…?

      • Malcolm Scott 5 years ago

        I went for an ex demo Volt @ $45k. Even at $55k for a new Volt I’m surprised that more people have not done their sums and concluded that EVs, and for some usage profiles a Volt, make good business cases. Anyone with a decent commute (and enjoys a quiet car) should really be looking into EVs.
        Whilst I find it hard to compare any ICE with a Volt, I generally conclude that at the moment EVs are priced about $15k more than an ICE car for like purpose. Given the cost of money (from mortgage 5%) and the greatly reduced operating costs you don’t have to do much distance to offset the higher CAPEX and related depreciation.
        BTW, my off peak rate in Victoria is about 14c inc GST Momentum Energy (Tas Hydro) / United Energy (distributer) for renewable electricity (flex pricing tariff with smart meter). If I have to recharge during the day I use the 6 amp charge rate rather then 15 amp to self consume my solar as much as possible. So the business case can be even better in some circumstances.
        I haven’t driven a Leaf or iMiev, but I have been a passenger in one of the EV Commodores and I own a Volt. To my mind the #1 reason to own an EV is that they are simply a superior driving experience. That’s why EV owners have a permanent smile. The rest is a bonus.

  2. Malcolm Scott 5 years ago

    Additional for Australians:

    In these times of reducing number of refineries from 7 to 4 with greater reliance on global supply chains for petrol, you might also add energy independence/security.

    The fuel is locally manufactured, no imports required and adds to Australian economic wealth – adds to employment and with renewables often uses labour in country areas and adds to the rural economy without affecting community health and other costs normally associated with fossil fuels.

    Since 2008 over $40b has been invested in upgrading the electricity grid, and yet demand continues to reduce, causing a much commented on ‘death spiral’ for electricity companies. If only 100,000 EVs existed in Victoria, this would add about 2% to the electricity demand over the charging period and would go some way to averting the ‘death spiral’. A million EVs, an electric very fast train system would do much more to avert the ‘death spiral’ and pollution by aircraft.

    More EVs would also give more strength to the RET (displacing oil/petrol), and provide greater incentive for much more ambitious targets post 2020

    Australia is number 2 in Lithium production – more EVs = more export potential if we can compete with the lithium reserves in NA, Chile and Argentina. http://www.australian-lithium.com/

  3. Malcolm Scott 5 years ago

    and the current record holder street legal EV 8.913 s @ 147.99 mph

    http://insideevs.com/john-metrics-assault-battery-first-breaks-8s/
    The guy with the camera on the smart phone gets rather excited after the small Mazda tried to remove the bitumen from the 1/4 mile strip.

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