Electric Cars

Pros and Cons of Owning an Electric Car

Pros and Cons of Owning an Electric Car

For the sake of simplicity, let’s think of electricity as fuel, the rechargeable battery pack as the fuel tank, and the electric motor as the internal combustion engine (ICE) – the type of engine in a traditional gasoline car.

Maintenance Costs

One of the biggest bonuses of buying a BEV over a gas-powered vehicle are the significantly lower maintenance costs. Electric motors have fewer moving parts than gas engines, making them simpler to maintain and likely to last longer. The motor’s regenerative braking functionality naturally helps to slow the car down when it’s not accelerating so the brake system in BEVs doesn’t suffer as much wear. Even traditional replacement parts and refillables such as oil, spark plugs, and filters — all of which are crucial elements to gas vehicles — are irrelevant to BEVs. Think about how many trips to the mechanic you could avoid and how much money you could save over time simply by driving electric!

Learn more about the cost to maintain an electric car here.

Fuel Costs

BEVs also have cheaper fueling costs. Most utility providers offer residential electric rates that cost only a few cents per hour, with some even offering special lower EV rates, such as off-peak rates or time-of-use rates, to reduce fuel costs even further. The price of electricity is much more stable when compared to gas or diesel – experiencing virtually no major fluctuations over the last 20 years. If you are somebody who drives on a near-daily basis, the accumulated savings in fuel costs from making the switch to a BEV can make a huge impact on your household budget.

Explore our New Vehicle Catalog to compare electric cars against similar gas vehicles to better understand just how much you can save by driving electric. Simply click on a car you like, scroll down the page, and click "Cost of Ownership" to learn more.

Vehicle Efficiency

BEVs are, on average, over twice as efficient as gas vehicles. While gas vehicles are only able to convert about 12 - 30% of the energy stored in gasoline into driving power, BEVs are able to convert over 77% of the electrical energy from the grid to power the wheels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses a statistic to compare EV efficiency called miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), which is defined as the number of miles a vehicle can travel given the equivalent amount of energy that would be contained in a single gallon of gasoline. As of 2020, the average MPG of a traditional gas vehicle was around 25.7 while the average comparable MPGe of BEVs was 100 or higher, making them around four times as efficient as gas vehicles.

Noise Pollution

A little-known fact about electric cars is that they create less noise pollution than gas vehicles. The amount of noise emitted from an electric motor is significantly quieter than an internal combustion engine and its exhaust system.  In fact, there have even been concerns from safety campaigners about EVs being too quiet. In September 2020, U.S. regulators required HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs to produce their own sounds when driving up to speeds of 18.6 miles per hour. This law is meant to help pedestrians who might be blind, partially sighted, or otherwise distracted to hear them as they approach. As EVs become more mainstream, noise pollution caused by transportation will likely fade away.

Drawbacks of Owning an Electric Car

Despite these superiorities, however, no vehicle is perfect and BEVs face their own share of problems. Like many other electronic devices, the biggest drawback of a BEV is that it will eventually require a battery replacement.

To solve this issue, federal regulations have mandated that automakers cover the battery of their BEVs with a warranty of at least eight years / 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Some automakers even take this mandate a step further and cover battery degradation. For instance, if your fully charged BEV is rated to provide 100 miles of range and you are only receiving about 70 miles per charge within the timeframe of the warranty, you can qualify for a complimentary replacement. But if your warranty expires, the out-of-pocket expenses for replacing the battery could cost more than $5,000.

Learn more about electric car warranties and exclusions here.

The hardware for EV batteries is becoming cheaper each year, so replacement will likely be less expensive in the future. Each BEV comes with its own exceptions, so always read the warranty’s fine print or ask your local associate if you have questions about a certain vehicle. As we add data due to real-world driving, electric vehicles are proving to be even more maintenance-free than first thought. It is now projected that EV battery packs can easily last for 200,000 miles or more. The chances are that you will sell your electric car long before you have to worry about replacing the battery.

But What About the Upfront Cost?

All of the added technology in electric cars comes at a price. The reality is that BEVs generally have higher manufacturer suggested retail prices, or MSRPs, than most gasoline vehicles. This is mostly due to the high cost of the battery. However, because of all the environmental and societal benefits BEVs have, the federal government has provided yet another solution to help drive adoption of EVs by providing financial incentives that lower their total cost.

Eligible EV consumers can receive rebates, tax credits, exemptions or driving perks should they choose to purchase or lease an EV. These incentives are offered at all levels of government (federal, state, local) and even by certain companies or agencies, such as utility companies and air quality management districts.

Arguably the most well-known incentive is the Federal Qualified PEV Tax Credit, which offers up to $7,500 off the MSRP of eligible vehicles. The best part about incentives is that these savings have the ability to stack on top of one another. For instance, if the starting MSRP of a 2020 Nissan LEAF is $31,600 and you qualify for a $2,000 incentive that was offered by your state, city and local utility, you would be entitled to a total savings of $9,500 off of your vehicle purchase — that’s a brand-new Nissan LEAF for around $20,000! Be sure to ask your local associate about what incentives you qualify for or simply use our Personalized Incentives Tool.

As more and more electric cars hit the roads, the cost to produce them will continue to drop. The price of battery packs is also dropping. It is estimated that it will cost the same to buy a new electric car, hybrid or plug-in hybrid as it will to purchase a traditional gasoline-powered car by 2023.