Electric vehicles (EVs) have surged in popularity in the past decade, with over 10 million now in use worldwide. Moreover, 18 of the top 20 car manufacturers have pledged to expand their EV offerings and sales. As EV variety expands to encompass a broader spectrum of prices and longer driving ranges on average, more drivers are contemplating the switch to electric. This shift presents prospective car buyers with fresh considerations. So, if you’re pondering “should I buy an electric car?”, here are key factors to weigh before making your decision.

There are three main types of electric vehicle (EV) technologies available to consumers:

  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs): Hybrids operate using both a gasoline-powered engine and a battery-powered motor. The battery recharges through regenerative braking, where energy is captured during braking.
  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs): Similar to hybrids, PHEVs have both a gasoline engine and a battery-powered motor. However, PHEVs can be charged by plugging them into an electrical outlet. They can operate on battery power alone, gasoline power alone, or a combination of both, offering a flexible transitional EV option.
  • Fully Electric Vehicles (EVs): EVs are powered solely by an electric motor and use a battery that is charged by plugging the car into an electrical outlet. They produce zero tailpipe emissions, making them environmentally friendly alternatives.

These options provide consumers with a range of choices depending on their driving needs, charging accessibility, and environmental considerations.

After homes, cars represent one of the largest investments in most people’s lives. That’s why drivers carefully consider how they spend their money. Many consumers are less familiar with EVs and PHEVs, so we’ll explore key factors to consider before deciding whether to purchase an electric car.

Tax Credits: The average cost of an electric vehicle exceeds that of traditional cars by approximately $9,000 (excluding luxury models). Government incentives help bridge this gap through rebates, discounts, and other perks. A notable example is the $7,500 federal rebate available for full EVs, with PHEVs eligible for a partial rebate. It’s important to note that some popular models no longer qualify for this rebate, and lessees of EVs may not be eligible. Visit our dedicated EV page and use our incentive lookup tool for more information.

Charging: Charging is a distinctive feature of EVs and PHEVs compared to conventional vehicles. Instead of refueling with gas, you recharge with electricity—either at home, work, or on the road—by plugging the car into a special outlet. Overnight home charging suits most daily commutes and driving needs. Faster “direct current” charging is available at public stations nationwide, resembling gas stations, though their distribution varies.

Maintenance: Understanding maintenance for your electric car is crucial. While all cars require maintenance, EVs and PHEVs have different—and often fewer—needs. Fully electric vehicles eliminate the need for oil changes, spark plugs, or timing belts, and their electric motors require no routine maintenance. However, EVs may experience faster tire wear. PHEVs require maintenance for both gasoline and electric components.

Environmental Impact: All three types of electric vehicles contribute to reducing your overall carbon footprint, with full EVs producing zero tailpipe emissions.

There are two main types of costs to consider for all vehicles—up-front costs and ongoing costs—but the specifics differ for EVs.

Upfront Cost – EV Price Tag: Like traditional cars, EVs and PHEVs come in a wide range of price tags, from $30,000 up to $100,000 or more for luxury models. Excluding luxury models, the average cost of a fully electric or hybrid electric vehicle is about $56,000. In comparison, the average price of a new car purchased in the U.S. in 2021 was $47,000. This price gap is expected to narrow in the coming years as more car manufacturers introduce more affordable options to meet growing consumer demand.

Upfront Cost – Rebates and Incentives: Federal and state governments offer up-front rebates, and there are electricity discounts from utilities and parking perks at retail establishments for EV drivers. Explore more details on our dedicated EV Costs page.

Upfront Cost – EV Home Charging Equipment: The most convenient way to charge an EV or PHEV is to have access to an electrical outlet near your regular parking space. While standard wall outlets work, their charging time is typically impractically slow. Therefore, most EV drivers opt to work with an electrician to install a 240-volt outlet, similar to those used by clothes dryers. Learn more about charging on our dedicated EV Charging page.

Ongoing Cost – EV Maintenance: All cars require maintenance, but EVs and PHEVs have different needs:

  • EVs have fewer mechanical components and therefore require significantly less maintenance compared to traditional cars.
  • EV batteries are typically covered by 8 to 10-year warranties, often exceeding the average ownership period.
  • EV tires tend to wear out faster than those on traditional cars due to the battery’s weight. Overall, EVs are estimated to save owners about $4,600 in maintenance costs over the vehicle’s lifespan compared to gas-powered cars.

Ongoing Cost – Electricity (in place of gas!): Traditional vehicles run on gasoline, while EVs run on electricity, and PHEVs use both. EV and PHEV drivers pay for their charge-ups either through their monthly electric bill or at public charging stations. Some utilities offer discounted rates for EV drivers who charge at night when the demand on the electrical grid is lower, and some public charging stations offer membership rates. Researching local market costs and incentives is essential. Learn more about charging on our dedicated EV Charging page.

With an abundance of major manufacturers now producing EVs, you have more choices than ever. However, deciding whether to buy an electric car involves weighing several factors: up-front and ongoing costs, maintenance needs, charging infrastructure, and environmental impact. Ultimately, the decision hinges on what aligns best with your needs and priorities — there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, only what works best for you.