Should I buy an Electric Car?

Should I buy an Electric Car?


Electric vehicles are a promising investment for our future lives, economy, and environment. They have the potential to greatly reduce our transportation costs and make our daily commutes and car treks more convenient. But are we there yet? Is it time to think about buying into this new technology, or is it better to let it sit a while and make a purchase five, ten, or twenty years once the technology have developed further. It’s a nearly inherent aspect of technology that it gets cheaper and better with time. The question is, How long does one wait? Sure, electric cars will almost undoubtedly be more advanced in a few years, but can you save enough money to make it worth your purchase in the mean time? This is what we’ve undertaken to find out. We’ve compared the major types of electric vehicles available with your average conventional gas vehicles to see how the costs of initial purchase, continued operation, and maintenance look side by side.


The trichotomy of electrically powered cars[1]

Petroleum fuel isn’t going anytime soon. It remains the best fuel option for the majority of car owners across the U.S., even in light of the most recent breakthroughs in electric automobile technology. Gasoline generated energy has benefits which electric energy lacks, and vice versa. Thus electricity and gasoline can become mutually complimentary fuels if they’re blended together in an internal system. For this reason, the “hybrid” vehicle has become a popular type. Hybrids often run on gasoline but are assisted by an electric motor. There are several different system designed to make gas and electricity work together, but we’ll highlight the main ones. Here are the three chief types of vehicles in which electricity serves as a fuel:

  • Hybrid electric vehicles
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
  • All-electric vehicles

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) run on both gas and electric power. They don’t require a recharge via a plug-in. Their batteries are charged through regenerative braking. Basically, the energy you lose while breaking (the extra momentum you would have had if you hadn’t pressed on the brakes) is used to charge the battery instead of being lost. Other charging mechanisms may be implemented, but the main distinction between HEVs and PHEVs (see next) is that HEV can’t be charged by any sort of external power source.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are charged, as the name would suggest, by an external power source. Like HEVs, they also run on gasoline. The battery, in addition to being plugged in, can received extra charge through regenerative braking.

All-electric vehicles (EVs) are not hybrids and run solely on electric power. They’re charged through a plug-in charging station.


Now that you’re aware of the distinction between different types of electric vehicles, we’ll divulge some of the general benefits of electric fuel over gasoline and vice versa. While electric energy in transportation has many benefits, there is room for the technology to improve. We’ll first explain some of the chief benefits of driving electrically.


Fuel cost stability

Electricity is a domestic energy source, meaning we generate it within our boarders. Gasoline, on the other hand, is mostly imported from other countries. Because our gasoline consumption involves international trade and all the complications that come with it, gas prices tend to fluctuate. Since electricity is generated internally, you can expect there to be less changes in price. So in driving an electric vehicle you’ll be less dependent on factors beyond your control and will be able to manage your future costs more easily.


Fuel Economy

One thing electric cars can promise you is cheaper transportation. According to, electric vehicles convert around 60% of electric energy from the grid to the car, whereas most conventional gasoline vehicles convert close to only 20% of the energy stored in gasoline.[2] This means that much more energy can be generated (as electricity) and brought to your motor at a cheaper price. Whether you’re considering an HEV, a PHEV, or an EV, one thing remains the same: electricity is cheaper than gas. A vehicle running on electricity will cost two to four cents per mile, whereas most conventional vehicles cost ten to fifteen cents.[3] Driving electrically will undoubtedly cut costs out of your everyday driving, which will add up to quite a large amount of saving over time. states that it costs about half as much to drive an electric vehicle as it does to drive a conventional combustion engine one. Note that this is only to drive it, not to purchase the vehicle itself or maintain it. has an updated electric-to-gas fuel price comparison, calculating for the average “eGallon” of electrically power cars vs. the current average gas prices. You can view this here.

As far as cost of ownership goes, the competition between electric car, hybrids, and conventional cars is not about fuel efficiency; it’s about upfront costs, general practicality, refueling convenience, and vehicle maintenance.


Operational smoothness

One thing to consider is functionality on the road. An electric vehicle will run more quietly and maneuver very smoothly. They also tend to have a stronger acceleration. If you crave a smooth, easy, and powerful driving experience, an electric car may be what’s for you. But don’t take our word for it. Get to a dealership and test drive an electric car. See what you think!


Low emissions

An all-electric car will not have an emission. They’re considered to be zero-emission vehicles by the EPA. Albeit, the power plants generating the electricity can make emissions, but electric driving remains a comparatively environmentally friendly mode of transportation. states that, “If electricity is generated from nonpolluting, renewable sources, EVs have the potential to produce zero well-to-wheel emissions.” Regarding HEVs and PHEVs, the more electric power is incorporated into operation, the less of an emission there will be. If you care about reducing your environmental footprint, driving an electric car will suit you well.


Comparing initial costs

Electric vehicles and hybrids have a greater upfront cost than combustion engine vehicles. For instance, Ford prices their 2015 Focus ST (conventional gas vehicle) starting at $17,170. The 2015 Focus Electric (EV) starts at $29,170. That’s a potential price difference of $12,000. There’s a less drastic difference between conventional and HEV prices. The gasoline powered 2015 Ford Fusion starts at $22,010. The 2015 Fusion Hybrid (HEV) starts at $26,890. PHEVs tend to be more expensive than HEVs, by up to $8,000.[4] The following table shows some of the price differences between major comparable vehicles.


Similar Model Vehicles – Starting Price Comparison


Combustion engine




2015 Ford Focus[5]



2015 Ford Fusion



2015 Chevy Spark[6]



2015 Toyota Prius[7]



2015 Toyota Camry




As you can see, prices take jumps as cars become more “electric.” At first, one may think to calculate the amount he/she could save in fuel costs and see how long it will take to pay off the extra money spent on an electric car type. But a decision made off this alone may very well turn out to be a very bad decision. There are a few more potential costs to consider which should have a fairly heavy impact on your consideration of electric vehicles.


More price factors: hefty battery pack cost

An electric motor does not come with all the corrodible moving parts required to convert gasoline into energy, so you’ll less likely need to have engine work done for an electric or hybrid vehicle. However, there are other, more ominous maintenance costs to be wary of. As is the case with any machine that runs heavily on battery power, an electric car’s battery will likely have to be replaced one or more times. We’re not talking a $100 battery from Costco. EV and hybrid battery prices remain elusive and varying, but expect a battery pack to cost $8,000 or more. This puts a lot more potential cost into owning a hybrid or electric car, and increases the importance of getting one that will continue to run for a while.


Drawbacks: refueling convenience (or lack thereof)


A major drawback for EVs in particular is that recharging the battery can be less than convenient. Even a rapid charge to 80% battery capacity will take 30 minutes. A regular full charge will take 1-4 hours. For conventional car drivers, gas stations are easy to find, but it’s harder to find a station where one can charge an electric vehicle. This isn’t helped by the fact that electric vehicles get only 100-200 miles out of a full charge (conventional vehicles typically get over 300 miles out of a full tank).[8] For this reason electric vehicles are typically considered beneficial for everyday transportation (short trips), but not all too practical for long car trips. One might benefit from owning both an electric and a regular combustion engine vehicle and using each respectively for their most suited tasks. But of course, that’s an expensive investment.


Electric vehicles still have a ways to go in development. At this stage, they require a fair amount of extra expense, even if they get much better fuel economy. An HEV or PHEV may be a more viable investment.


Plug-in hybrid “EV mode”

If you don’t want to pay the weighty price tag for an EV, or don’t want to have to deal with the inconveniences that come a long with it, but still would like to have the ability to take short trips entirely on electric charge, there is a solution for you. A lot of plug-in hybrid vehicles come with an “EV mode” which allows you run solely on the battery for a while. Of course, the PHEV’s battery will last for a much shorter time than an EV’s, but this is useful feature for saving some money in fuel economy on the side.


Electric cars of tomorrow – important developments

Perhaps the strongest inhibitors of electric vehicle advancement on the market today is the cost of manufacturing electric car batteries and the relatively inadequate amount of charge these batteries hold. Industry standard lithium ion batteries ca only last for so long and there doesn’t seem to be any clear path in technological development to make it last longer. Studies on alternatives like lithium sulfur batteries have yielded promising results[9], but it may be at least another five or ten years before this really takes off. One thing is certain though: technology will improve, however slowly.


As great as it would be to never have to stop at a gas station, the unfortunate situation is that technology just isn’t there yet for all-electric vehicles. The market is a good indicator of what whether or not EVs will be worth it to you. People aren’t lining up to by all-electric cars and motor companies are manufacturing many of them. There’s a direct reason for all this—namely, that EVs aren’t worth most people’s money. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, have enjoyed a little more success. Deciding whether or not to by a hybrid (as well as deciding which hybrid to buy) will require weighing a few of the different costs discussed above. has created a helpful tool for doing this. Their plug-in hybrid calculator estimates how much money you’ll save in fuel economy by driving a hybrid instead of a combustion engine vehicle. See this here.

We’ve tried to include all the major things to consider. You may decide that’s it’s best to hold off a while until further advancements have been made to cut expenses and improve functionality of electrically and semi-electrically powered cars. As we stated before, gasoline isn’t about to become obsolete. Nevertheless, electric transportation is a promising technology that will certainly improve our lives down the road.

[1] Information herein and additional facts here: Accessed 3/12/2015.

[2] This and more here: Accessed 3/11/2015.

[4] (

[5] Source: Accessed 2/13/2015.

[6] Source: Accessed 3/13/2015.

[7] Source: Accessed 3/13/2015.

[8] Info from Accessed 3/12/2015.


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