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Is an electric car right for you?

As battery-powered options become increasingly accessible, drivers are weighing the pros and cons of electric vehicles. Here are a few things to consider:

What is an electric vehicle?

Electric vehicles, or EVs, are powered entirely by large, rechargeable batteries. Hybrid vehicles bring EV technology to traditional gas-powered vehicles, providing an option for drivers looking for a more gradual switch to eco-friendly technology.

The benefits of going electric

Luckily for new buyers, the technology behind electric vehicles has come a long way in recent years. Let's look at some of the perks of EVs.

The average driving range for an EV in the US has quadrupled since 2011 — now you can go an average of 250 to 300 miles on a full charge.

Environmental impact

EVs put less CO2 and smog into the air, and the mined minerals used in the battery can be recycled, unlike vehicles that use gas.

Save on gas

While every car is different, if you drive a traditional gas-powered vehicle, you'll spend around $2,400 on gas per year. In comparison, the annual cost to charge an EV is around $720. That's more than a $1,500 savings per year. (Meaning you can switch your “gas" bucket in your spending account to a smaller “charging" bucket.)

See how much you can save in fuel costs using  this calculator  from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Tax credits and incentives

New and used all-electric and plug-in hybrids may qualify for federal income tax breaks — up to $7,500, depending on where the car's materials came from.

Save on maintenance

Those with an electric car spend about half as much to repair and maintain their vehicle, compared to gas-powered auto owners. Just keep in mind that EVs still need some TLC, like regular tire rotations and brake replacements, especially since the battery can exert more torque on the wheels.

The cons of electric cars

Of course, going electric comes with its own set of costs and considerations:

Higher initial cost

When you compare gas-only vehicles to their similar electric counterparts, EVs cost around 25% more upfront. While you may break even in savings over the lifespan of your car, the upfront cost may be deterring.

Finding a charger

With an EV, you'll want to consider when and where you'll charge your car. Is there a charger on the way to your frequent destinations? Do you plan on charging your car at home, or does your work offer free charging for the eight-hour workday? If charging at home, make sure you have an outlet you can safely use and be prepared for increased electricity costs. Electricity prices vary, especially state by state.

Time to charge

Do your homework when it comes to public charging stations. Some charge by the hour, and charging speed can vary widely depending on how high-tech the station is and how many other people are charging. It can take 20 minutes to several hours to charge your EV from empty — which can quickly derail a road trip or short drive.

Shorter range

The average driving range for an EV in the US has quadrupled since 2011 — now you can go an average of 250 to 300 miles on a full charge. That's nearly on-pace with a full tank of gas in a conventional vehicle. But if you're used to a vehicle with a large gas tank and are a long-haul driver, the mileage limitations of EVs might still be too restrictive. You may also experience range anxiety while traveling: the uncertainty of where your next charge will come from, and whether you'll make it there.

Is an EV right for you? 

When considering an EV, think about your current driving habits: how far, how often and the usual weather conditions while driving can play a major role in how practical an EV will be for you.

Get charged up

Driving electric is more feasible than ever. With options in all price ranges — and potential savings over the life of the vehicle — an electric vehicle may be in your driveway's future.

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