Learn the pros and cons of electric cars to see what all the hype is about and if now is a good time to buy one.
Like it or not, electric vehicles (EVs) are here to stay and will take over our roads in the next two decades.
These vehicles have made great technological strides in a very short period of time and, thanks in large part to Tesla’s success, are the new automotive norm.
But even though the writing is on the wall — electric cars are the future — many motorists are still reluctant to make the switch from gas-powered cars, largely due to misconceptions about EVs having critical flaws that make them unsuitable for daily driving.
Granted there are a few good reasons why you shouldn’t buy an electric car, the benefits of owning one far outweigh the drawbacks.
IN THIS GUIDE
The Pros And Cons Of Electric Cars
We’re going to present the biggest advantages and disadvantages of electric cars. As you go over each one, keep in mind that, even though electric vehicles have been around since the 1800s, it was only until recently that carmakers started taking them seriously.
In other words, modern EV tech is fairly new and still rapidly evolving.
Why You Should Buy An Electric Car
There are many benefits of owning an electric car. Some are obvious; others less so.
EVs Are Better For The Environment?
The fact that electric cars are better for the environment than gas cars is all the reason many motorists need to buy one.
Because EVs don’t burn fossil fuels and have no exhaust system, they produce zero emissions. You don’t have to worry about pumping greenhouse gasses into the earth’s atmosphere like you would with a gas or diesel car, at least not directly.
Some critics argue that electric cars are not better for the environment and may actually be worse when you consider the pollution produced through the extraction of the rare earth metals needed for their batteries and the manufacturing of those batteries.
However, studies show that with virtually zero emissions produced, they are cleaner than gas and diesel vehicles over their lifetime and will only get cleaner as manufacturing processes improve and battery recycling becomes more efficient.
EVs Can Be Powered With Renewable Energy
Unlike gas and diesel vehicles, which depend on fuel sources created from oil, a natural but non-renewable resource, electric vehicles can be powered naturally with renewable energy such as wind, solar, and water. It’s a myth that they mostly run on coal-generated electricity.
If you want to reduce your energy costs and carbon footprint, consider installing solar panels in your home to power your electric vehicle and other household functions.
You might be surprised to know that 28–50% of electric car owners in the US and Europe have solar-powered homes.
Electricity Is Cheaper Than Gas
At less than one-third the cost, electricity is much cheaper than gas or diesel. It will cost you less to drive an EV than a gas or diesel car.
Electricity is so cheap, in fact, that many owners charge their vehicle in the comfort of their own home without ever having to visit a public charging station.
Some electric vehicles also use regenerative braking to retrieve some of the energy lost during driving at absolutely no cost.
EVs Are Cheaper To Maintain
Electric vehicles have much simpler designs than internal combustion engine cars.
Since they don’t have an engine, you won’t have to worry about oil changes; replacing spark plugs, oil filters, pumps, valves, etc.; and performing other routine maintenance associated with the mechanical trappings of ICE engines.
Moreover, the brakes on electric vehicles typically don’t wear out as quickly as those on a gas car, resulting in fewer brake replacements.
The main concern of owning an EV is ensuring the battery works optimally.
EVs Are Quieter Than Gas Cars
Electric cars are much quieter than vehicles with internal combustion engines. The only noises you usually hear from them are wind and tire-pavement noise, and even then it’s only at moderate to high speeds.
In fact, EVs are so silent when driving that many governments around the world have proposed that manufacturers equip them with noise-making devices to alert pedestrians of their presence.
Good things sometimes have unfortunate consequences, but this one isn’t a biggie.
EVs Get Government Incentives
Thinking about buying a new electric vehicle? You might qualify for a government rebate or tax credit for simply driving a vehicle that studies show is better for the environment.
Governments have different policies, so the amount you will receive will depend on where you live and even the specific model you’re looking to buy.
In the United States, for instance, the federal EV tax credit expires for a manufacturer’s vehicles once the manufacturer sells 200,000 or more qualifying vehicles. The credit is no longer available on Tesla and GM vehicles since both automakers have exceeded their sales quota.
Do a quick online search or contact your local authorities to learn what kind of incentives you qualify for, and make sure to read the fine print.
EVs Drive Better Than Gas Cars
An important but often overlooked benefit of electric vehicles is their driving dynamics. Thanks to the instant torque that electric motors provide, they typically accelerate faster and smoother than gas cars.
EVs also tend to have their batteries stored at the center of their chassis and low to the ground, giving them a low center of gravity that improves handling and ride quality.
Finally, many EVs have “one-pedal driving,” a feature that uses regenerative brakes to simultaneously slow the car and recharge its batteries when you let off the accelerator. With one-pedal driving, there is often no need to use the brake pedal.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy An Electric Car
As beneficial as they are, electric cars are not perfect. There are several disadvantages of owning one, though these advantages are likely to disappear in the next 10 years as the technology and infrastructure for EVs continue to evolve.
EVs Are More Expensive Than Gas Cars
The biggest drawback for most car buyers is their price. Electric cars are usually more expensive than comparable gas-powered vehicles.
You can expect to pay at least $10,000 more for an electric vehicle than for the same type of car powered by an internal combustion engine.
Although many governments offer rebates and tax credits to encourage people to buy them, their high initial cost still makes them unattainable for the average car buyer.
Fortunately, this price gap has been closing thanks to advancements in battery technology.
Lack Of Charging Infrastructure
The lack of charging stations used to be a big problem just a few years ago, but thanks to the efforts of many companies, EV infrastructure is expanding readily, and finding a place to charge your EV in and around urban centers is no longer a hassle.
Then again, do you even need to rely on public chargers if you habitually charge your EV at home? Probably not.
Longer road trips can prove to be a challenge, however, especially if you’re traveling in a remote area where public chargers are sparse, if nonexistent. Better bring along a power generator to charge your EV if you plan on going way off the beaten path.
Better yet, consider getting a plug-in hybrid instead, as you will have a backup gasoline engine to work with.
EVs Have Inconsistent Driving Range
With most modern electric vehicles now boasting a driving range of 200-400 miles (322-644 km) and having access to many public charging stations, range anxiety is no longer an issue for the average driver. However, their range can fluctuate drastically depending on weather conditions and how the car is used.
EV range often drops by 20 to 50 percent in cold weather, which can be an inconvenience. EV drivers and potential buyers that live in areas that get cold will need to consider these reductions when calculating their required range.
Towing with an EV or using it for other intensive applications such as off-roading will also reduce range drastically. If you have an electric truck or SUV, you can expect towing range to be 30-50 percent less than the range in normal driving conditions.
Finally, EV range is very sensitive to aggressive driving, so much so that drivers with a heavy foot will get noticeably less range in an EV than in a gas-powered car.
EVs Depreciate Faster Than Gas Cars
Not only are electric vehicles more expensive than gas-powered vehicles, but they also depreciate quicker. I bet you didn’t know that.
A recent analysis by iSeeCars found that electric vehicles depreciate by as much as 52 percent after just three years, compared to just 39 percent for the average gas-powered sedan and 34 percent for trucks. Teslas are an exception to the rule, however.
Some of that steep depreciation can be attributed to electric cars being somewhat of a new and “unproven” technology that poses new challenges for owners who buy them second-hand.
Higher-priced vehicles also depreciate faster than cheaper ones, and EVs definitely command a higher price than their gas-powered counterparts.
EVs Take Long To Recharge (Fuel)
It takes much longer to charge an electric vehicle than it does to fuel a gas or diesel vehicle at a pump. Filling up a gas tank can be completed in as little as three minutes, while fully charging an EV can take hours.
Some EVs charge faster than others. Fortunately, charge times are decreasing across the board thanks to improvements in charging technology, with many new models now taking less than four hours to charge fully.
Having a charging station installed in your home and using it to charge your EV overnight will make this issue more manageable.
Limited Selection Of EV Models
Car manufacturers have been making gas and diesel-powered vehicles for over 100 years but only started to mass-produce electric vehicles in the 2010s. With less of a history, there are simply far fewer electric models to choose from than there are gas-powered options.
That’s quickly changing, however. With a record number of electric vehicles hitting the market every year and many automakers promising to stop making gas vehicles by 2035, car buyers will soon be spoiled for choice when it comes to EVs.
Electric Cars Pros And Cons FAQs
We pulled together and answered the following list of frequently asked questions so that you walk away knowing as much about the pros and cons of electric cars as possible.
When Will Electric Cars Take Over?
Electric cars will take over sooner than most people think. Many governments around the world have proposed banning the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles, while a growing number of carmakers will stop making them by 2035.
At the rate the EV segment is growing, investment bank UBS predicts that every new car sold globally will be electric by 2040. But don’t expect internal combustion engine vehicles to just disappear overnight.
Seeing as it will take a while for existing models to reach the end of their life spans, gas and diesel cars will continue to be a common sight on our roads for many years after automakers stop making them.
Is It Worth Buying An Electric Car Now?
Yes. Electric cars have many advantages over gas-powered cars.
Notably, they are quieter, cheaper to fuel, less expensive to maintain, potentially but not necessarily better for the environment, and possibly available with government incentives that reduce their purchase price.
Electric vehicles are cheaper to operate over the long run than comparable gas- or diesel-powered cars.
What Is Bad About Electric Cars?
There is nothing inherently bad about electric vehicles. However, considering that their battery range suffers greatly in cold weather and under intensive applications such as towing, they may not be ideal for people who live in cold climates or frequently tow large items.
So, there you have it, a list of electric cars pros and cons that should squelch any misconceptions you might have had about these vehicles.
While there are a few compelling reasons why you shouldn’t buy an electric car, EV tech is improving at such a rapid pace that the drawbacks will soon become inconsequential.
Range anxiety, slow charging times, and troubles finding a charging station are quickly becoming issues of the past, while the price of EVs continues to drop as manufacturers find ways to make batteries cheaper and more efficient.
With the automotive industry ramping up the production of electric vehicles and many automakers poised to stop making gas-powered cars in the next 10 to 15 years, there is a good chance that your next car will be an EV, assuming you don’t already drive one.
If you found our analysis of the pros and cons of electric cars informative, check out some of our other car buying advice and tips. Our article on the different types of cars, for one, will help you determine the right vehicle body style for your lifestyle needs.