Navigating the Labyrinth of Buying an Electric Vehicle

By: Peter Vierthaler

As gas prices climb, electric vehicles are becoming more attractive to the general population. The demand for electric vehicles is high and most producers can’t keep up. All car makers are having difficulty obtaining parts and chips to complete new vehicles. Tesla has indicated production will be hampered by supply chain issues and has postponed production for their Cybertruck for another year. Ford, which is producing the F-150 and Mustang electric vehicles is warning that demand is high, but shortages are hampering all vehicle production. Shortages may cost them an additional $1.5 billion in 2022. Other manufacturers are having similar problems.

As drivers ponder a switch to an electric vehicle, they will need to consider the following before buying. How much do I want to pay and how long will the payback be for lower fuel and maintenance costs? How much do I drive and at how many miles will it take to offset the embedded carbon (pollution created from manufacturing the car) from zero carbon driving? What will I use the vehicle for and what features are important to me? Where will I charge, how convenient will it be, and how much will I pay for it?

As difficult as it is for me to say, not everyone should buy an electric vehicle right away. Some people drive very little. It takes about 15,000 miles, on average, of driving an electric vehicle before the embedded carbon is negated from driving carbon free. If you drive only 3,000 miles a year it might be best to wait a few years to buy your electric vehicle. By then the cost will come down, the driving range will increase, and the manufacturing of the vehicles and batteries will be less carbon intensive.

The ideal candidates for electric vehicles today, are those driving long commutes, ride share vehicles, delivery vehicles and pick-up trucks. Ride share and delivery vehicles can be in service for 8 hours a day and more, often being driven 30,000 miles per year. The embedded carbon is negated after just 6 months.

Pick-up trucks, especially those used in the construction industry are gas hogs, often only achieving 8 to 12 miles per gallon and being driven long distances. Companies like Ford, Tesla and Rivian are addressing this problem and offering these drivers an alternative. These trucks also double as a power source for tools and possibly as a whole home back-up generator. In general the fuel savings from electric vehicles will be significant, the maintenance about half the cost and longevity of the vehicles perhaps double.

As an example, I drive my Tesla an average of 18,000 miles per year and at today’s gas price save $4,400 in fueling costs, compared to a gas vehicle with similar horsepower and acceleration. Over the past 6 years my maintenance costs have been about $4,500 and I have over 110,000 miles on the odometer. My battery range has reduced in range from 270 miles to 245 miles. The range reduction has become a non-issue because of the added charging stations since my purchase.

Charging is becoming less of a problem every day. Tesla has continued to add charging stations throughout the country and companies like Electrify America have been installing charging for all other non-Tesla vehicles. There is $7.5 billion available now from the Federal government to install even more chargers. Traveling the interstates has never been easier with an electric car. Installing a plug or charger in your home is easy and costs between $500 and $1500 and many vehicles can charge at work.

The trouble comes when trying to charge a vehicle at an apartment or condominium building. Apartment owners must make a significant investment in infrastructure, and it isn’t clear to them what the return on their investment will be. Condominium owners must achieve consensus from fifty percent or more of the owners to approve funding for chargers. All residents must be given equal access to the excess electric capacity of the property. These can be a challenge!

Leading Charge has significant experience in helping businesses, apartments, and condominiums find the right charging system for them. Contact us to help you understand the options and the costs associated with each.

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