Plug-in electric cars are widely available in the Northeast. With 20 models in dealerships across the region, the chances are good there is at least one that could fit your household’s needs. We’ve put together this summary of the top three things to consider the next time you’re in the market, including types of electric cars, charging and affordability.
There are two types of electric cars
All Electric Vehicles (AEVs) are powered solely by a battery, such as the Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S, Volkswagen e-Golf and others. Official range estimates vary by model from 80 to 270 miles before recharging is needed. Range is significantly reduced by cold temperatures, but vehicles are designed to be able to handle most individual daily travel needs in all kinds of weather.
Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs) powered by either battery or gasoline, such as the Chevrolet Volt and Ford C-Max Energi, which can travel 15-50 miles on the battery before seamlessly switching to gasoline for extended range. PHEVs are a great option for people who are concerned about range. Depending on the vehicle, travel patterns and charging availability many PHEV owners are able to travel more than 80% of their miles on electricity.
Knowing which type of electric car will fit your lifestyle and driving needs will help you narrow down to specific models to research and try out.
Charging electric cars is easy
Both types of electric vehicles charge at home by plugging into standard 120V outlets using equipment that comes with the cars. Faster charging is available by upgrading to a 240V charger (like an electric clothes dryer circuit). In addition, many workplaces are installing charging stations for employee and visitor use. A growing network of public charging stations makes it more convenient to travel longer distances for AEV drivers, especially as new fast charging locations come online which can charge most models of AEVs in about 30 minutes. PHEV owners can charge when they like, but can run on gasoline for as long as they need.
Electric cars cost less than you think
Electric car ownership costs are very competitive with similar gasoline-powered vehicle counterparts. Most drivers start saving on gasoline and maintenance right away compared to a gasoline vehicle they are replacing. There are also federal and state incentives available which reduce the purchase or lease costs of electric cars. The federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is based on the size of the electric car battery. State level incentives are summarized in the table below, with several states offering up to $3,000 in addition to the federal tax credit. Automakers also have their own incentive programs which can add even more savings to the pot.
Leasing is an especially popular option for electric cars as leases usually include at least a portion of the above mentioned incentives to reduce monthly and upfront payments. Many electric cars are now leasing at dealers for $200-$300/month. Lessees have the option to purchase at the end of their lease or they can return their vehicle and move up to the latest electric car technologies. They also don’t need to worry about depreciation of their investment as new models arrive.
There are also many models of used electric cars available at prices that are very competitive with gasoline options. These are frequently coming out of leases with low mileage. These can be a great option for people who aren’t sure about leasing or want the best deal possible. Like any used vehicle purchase, we do recommend having vehicles inspected by trained service technicians before purchasing to ensure the battery and other vital components are in good condition.
Many states are also offering non-monetary incentives in addition to the federal tax credit, such as carpool lane access, reduced inspection fees, parking benefits and more.
Visit the links in the state incentive table below to learn more about what incentives are available in your area for vehicles and charging equipment.
David Roberts is the Drive Electric Vermont coordinator. He has driven an all-electric Nissan LEAF for the past three years and says if you have to drive, drive electric.