EV Journey For Users

EV Program Tools

Accelerate @media (min-width:0px){.css-ccrgr1{display:inline;}}@media (min-width:600px){.css-ccrgr1{display:none;}} EV Adoption

The platform for communities to help residents, through every step of their ev purchasing journey… .css-1aqegct{display:inline;color:#ffc000;} at scale., car shoppers, .css-1aqegct{display:inline;color:#ffc000;} make every step of the ev purchase journey easy, learn the basics, browse & compare cars, discover incentives, get pricing, find deals, redeem incentives, install charging, provide personalized support for your users, at scale., informative modules on evs and car buying.

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Informative and engaging modules help users learn about EVs and car buying. Modules teach concepts in bite-size chunks to build user’s confidence on topics spanning from EV basics, charging, incentives, car payments, strategies to find the best deal, and more…

Module - Basics of Range & Charging

Discover EV Models. Create a Shortlist.

Interactive tools help users discover ev models that meet their needs. users can browse and filter cars, or have them recommended, with personalized incentives included alongside car prices. users can save and sort cars into a shortlist to learn more and compare options..

Browse Cars & Create Shortlist

Discover and Personalize Incentives

Sophisticated incentives tools surface relevant incentives, and automatically predict a user’s own eligibility and value, with an explanation of why they do or don’t qualify. easy-to-understand guides help users understand each incentive and how to redeem it..

Discover Incentives Page

Curated Reviews & Ratings to Quickly Learn About Each Car

Curated reviews, ratings, photos, and videos help users save hours in learning about chosen cars. users can skip the googling and jump straight to verified high-quality content to make their ev research and comparison easy..

Photos, Reviews, Ratings Tool

EV Adoption

Program in a box, all the tools to drive ev adoption…, …integrated into an effective user experience, white-labeled for your brand., white labeled.

An end-to-end car buying journey for your users, branded for your organization.


Content in multiple languages ensures access across your community.

Detailed Metrics

Track the car buying stage of each user or report aggregate metrics across the entire pipeline.

Ongoing Updates

Ensure accuracy for users with updated data on cars, incentives, pricing, ratings & reviews, and more.

Integrated Events

Templates, assets, QR codes, and deep links to effectively onboard users from community events.

Virtual Campaigns

Integrated platform to provide widespread EV education through gamified digital campaigns.

Attribute Success

Track user onboardings and EV sales all the way back to individual events and campaigns.

Automate Engagement

Automate user engagement through context-specific outreach to users at each stage in their EV journey.

.css-1aqegct{display:inline;color:#FFC000;} Electrifyze powers EV Adoption programs that work ... at scale.

Leading governments, energy providers, and non-profits use electrifyze to power their consumer-facing ev adoption programs., customer example: electrifyze powers la county’s “fossil fuel free lac” initiative.

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“Across tens of thousands of users to date, Electrifyze has delivered an EV education experience that our users describe as “fun, engaging, and informative”. Our program has identified and onboarded thousands of in-market car buyers, and shown EV conversion rates as high as 90%. The Electrifyze team has been delightful to work with and is always pushing the limits to find innovative ways to drive EV adoption at scale.”

- program manager, county of los angeles.

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Electric-vehicle buyers demand new experiences

When buying an electric vehicle, consumers want an experience that matches their expectations of the car itself. That is, something exciting and innovative but also reliable and predictable. They expect to both transact online and negotiate with a real person, and they still need to take a test drive. However, the overall experience needs to be more seamless, more personalized, and more flexible than it was in the days of forecourt walkarounds.

About the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility

These insights were developed by the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility (MCFM). Since 2011, the MCFM has worked with stakeholders across the mobility ecosystem by providing independent and integrated evidence about possible future-mobility scenarios. With our unique, bottom-up modeling approach, our insights enable an end-to-end analytics journey through the future of mobility—from consumer needs to modal mix across urban and rural areas, sales, value pools, and life cycle sustainability. Contact us  if you are interested in getting full access to our market insights via the McKinsey Mobility Insights Portal.

These are some of the findings of McKinsey’s latest Future of Auto Retail consumer survey, 1 Future of Auto Retail consumer survey, McKinsey Center for Future Mobility consumer insights, August 2022, global n = 4,078. Consumers were interviewed in China, Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States. which polled more than 4,000 respondents globally, focusing on consumer sentiment around electrification, the car-purchasing experience, and innovations in automotive retail. The findings show that consumers expect an excellent experience but are not always sure that the industry is ready to meet their needs.

In this article, we show how growth in demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is shaping the automotive retail journey. While consumers enjoy digital interactions, they are concerned about factors including opaque pricing, complexity in the configuration process, and variability between dealer offerings. When it comes to test drives, consumers are increasingly interested in new formats, including testing virtually or at home.

What do these shifts mean for the automotive retail industry? First, that companies must embrace bold decisions and innovation to meet the needs of digital consumers. Also, as attitudes evolve, that new entrants will shake up the market. The key for all market participants will be to keep a close eye on trends and be ready to respond with features that excite consumers and support long-term demand.

Intent is accelerating

More consumers than ever are considering buying an EV (Exhibit 1). According to the McKinsey Mobility Consumer Pulse Survey, the proportion of consumers considering battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) rose by five percentage points to 20 percent between December 2021 and December 2022, while the proportion considering a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) rose by four percentage points to 22 percent. 2 McKinsey Mobility Consumer Pulse Survey, December 2021–22. Interviews took place in 13 countries. The survey also shows a four-percentage-point drop in EV skepticism by consumers, from 23 percent of consumers who categorically do not want to switch to EVs, to 19 percent.

Increasing comfort with online buying

In a world dominated by digital engagement, consumers’ first instinct when considering a car purchase is to go online. One in three buyers say they will not only research but also buy online for their next car purchase, citing simplicity and speed as key drivers. In China, more than half of respondents say that they would buy a vehicle online, regardless of power train choice. In other geographies, online purchasing is more favored among EV buyers, with twice as many choosing online over physical transactions.

In a world dominated by digital engagement, consumers’ first instinct when considering a car purchase is to go online.

Despite enthusiasm for digital, traditional approaches remain popular. Forty-four percent of consumers say that they value a personal connection, and 40 percent say that they appreciate the opportunity for price negotiation. Indeed, only 24 percent say they want an entirely human-free experience.

Brand loyalty put to the test

In times of systemic change, consumers are more willing to abandon long-standing loyalties. This presents a test for established brands (Exhibit 2). More than 50 percent of respondents say they may try a new brand when they switch to electric . And if only BEVs are considered, the proportion rises to 70 percent.

Consumers are not wowed by the purchasing experience

Of consumers who bought a car in the past three years, only 53 percent say they were very satisfied with the experience. Top pain points included price transparency, vehicle availability, and process complexity (Exhibit 3). In addition, as supply chains catch up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of availability for test drives and long delivery wait times are high on consumers’ minds.

Of consumers who bought a car in the past three years, only 53 percent say they were very satisfied with the experience. Top pain points included price transparency, vehicle availability, and process complexity.

Some pain points are more acute in the EV space. Thirty-three percent of consumers say that they regret a lack of options for personalized configurations, compared with only 25 percent of traditional car buyers. Meanwhile, 33 percent demand a smaller set of preconfigured options, and 28 percent want the opportunity to change configuration postpurchase and predelivery, compared with only 20 percent of traditional car buyers on both counts.

When asked about potential adaptations and innovations in the purchasing process, respondents’ top preferences include simplicity, convenience, higher levels of personalization, and greater price transparency—all core features of the digital experience. Future EV buyers place more emphasis than traditional buyers on simplicity and personalization in the vehicle-selection process (Exhibit 4).

Test drives are a key battleground

Few people want to buy a car without test driving it first. Indeed, across both the combustion engine and EV categories, 87 percent of consumers say they want to test drive before purchasing, and the proportion holds steady across demographics and geographies. Given the different experience offered by electric vehicles and consumers’ common lack of knowledge of EVs, test drives are even more important in that segment. Reasons include getting a feel for performance and handling (61 percent) and comparing the electric car with their current one (45 percent). EV buyers also want to learn about charging.

Few people want to buy a car without test driving it first. Indeed, across both the combustion engine and EV categories, 87 percent of consumers say they want to test drive before purchasing.

Consumers are open to new test drive formats, including at-home test drives, rentals, and even virtual-driving experiences, cited by 53 percent of Chinese respondents as a possibility (Exhibit 5). Many consumers are willing to pay for a home test drive. Globally, 80 percent of consumers say that they would pay at least $25, and more than half would pay up to $100 for the experience.

Market participants must plan for disruption

The trends shaping the automotive retail landscape are powerful and impact almost every aspect of the customer journey. In addition, the evolving landscape brings complexity , with consumers demanding more innovation and convenience but also remaining attached to aspects of the traditional experience. There is a sense of fluidity in attitudes that opens the market to increased competition. As demand for EVs continues to rise, we expect these trends to deepen  and accelerate. To optimize their performance, both incumbents and new entrants need to think carefully, seek out pockets of value, and be flexible in meeting changing consumer needs.

Thomas Furcher is a partner in McKinsey’s Vienna office; Isabela Hidalgo Giraldo is a consultant in the Waltham, Massachusetts, office;  Felix Rupalla is a solution associate partner in the Stuttgart office; and Anna-Sophie Smith is a consultant in the Frankfurt office.

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Electric Cars 101: Answers to All Your EV Questions

What you need to know to decide whether going electric is right for you

2023 Lexus RZ

Electric vehicles ( EVs ) are becoming increasingly common, with every major automaker racing to bring cars to market and most shifting away from building traditional gas-powered vehicles this decade. Clearly, EVs are the next big thing in cars, and they are coming to a driveway near you.

In the Article

Models & Types Available • Can You Get a Tax Break? • Should You Lease or Buy? • Where Will You Charge It? • How Long Does It Take to Charge? • What’s an EV Like to Drive? • Does Temperature Affect Range? • What If You Run Out of Charge? • What About Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids?

The appeal is clear, with reduced energy costs, lower emissions, convenient home charging, and the promise of reduced maintenance costs. More than a third of Americans would “definitely” or “seriously” consider buying or leasing an electric-only vehicle if they were to buy a vehicle today, according to Consumer Reports’ largest-ever nationally representative survey of 8,027 U.S. adults. Among their reasons: More than 3 in 10 U.S. adults say that it costs less to charge an EV than to refuel a gas car (33 percent), overall lifetime costs are lower (31 percent), and maintenance costs are lower (28 percent). 

But there remain barriers for many consumers, according to the survey, including where to charge an EV, how far a charge will take the car, and the overall cost of ownership. A clear takeaway from that research is that many consumers have questions about EV ownership. 

So, we rounded up our resident EV experts to provide answers. 

This guide is a basic primer that can help determine whether going electric is right for you.

Download our Electric Vehicle Checklist (PDF) to help with the decision.

Which Models and Types Are Available?

Electric vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, from small hatchbacks to luxury SUVs. Some are electric versions of familiar models, such as the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck. Others, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 , are all-new vehicles designed to be electric from the very beginning.

Consumer Reports estimates that by the end of 2024, there will be more than 70 EV models on the market—a massive increase from 2020, when there were just 6 models. While some early EVs could drive only 80 or 90 miles on a charge, many of today’s models get more than 250 miles .

Read about all of the pure electric models (BEVs) that are due to arrive soon , and check our full ratings of EVs we have already tested .

Shopping for an Electrified Car or SUV?

See our hybrid/EV ratings and buying guide .

Photo: Tesla Photo: Tesla

What Does an EV Cost to Buy?

The Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV , and the Nissan Leaf start under $30,000. While many EVs are in the $40,000 to $55,000 range, high-end models from BMW, Lucid, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Tesla extend into six figures. A CR analysis of sales data shows that the average new EV sells for over $60,000—tens of thousands more than the average gas or hybrid car.

In the years ahead, it is expected that EVs will gain price parity with similar gasoline models, as battery and production costs come down. It may be worth the wait if you’re looking to save money. Also, many manufacturers have future plans to build more electric models in the U.S. to take advantage of federal tax credits.

Photo: Chevrolet Photo: Chevrolet

What Does an EV Cost to Own?

Battery electric vehicles have fewer components than a plug-in hybrid or an internal combustion engine vehicle, so they often have lower maintenance costs because they don’t require fluid changes or tuneups. An analysis of EVs by CR found that EVs generally cost less to own over a typical ownership period than their equivalent gasoline-powered counterparts—although a less-reliable EV may end up needing pricey repairs, so be sure to choose a vehicle that scores highly on CR’s reliability ratings.

The cost of the electricity to charge an EV is almost always hundreds of dollars less per year than the fuel expense for a similar gas-powered vehicle. However, depending on where you live, how much you pay for electricity, and what kind of vehicle you’re shopping for, it may take many years—if ever—for those savings to make up the difference between the purchase price of an EV and a similar hybrid vehicle. Our analysis shows that luxury vehicles and trucks tend to have a quicker payoff than smaller EVs.

Figuring out an EV’s energy costs is a lot more complex than doing the same for a gas-powered car, but the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center has an easy-to-use calculator at afdc.energy.gov/calc . Check out any local incentives that might make it cheaper to charge an EV at home overnight. You can also calculate how much you’ll save if your home has solar power.

Can You Get a Tax Break on a New or Used EV?

Maybe. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law last year, offers tax credits of up to $7,500 on new EVs and up to $4,000 on used EVs, but the rules can be complex. How much you’ll get—if anything at all—depends on your income, where the car you purchased was manufactured, where its battery and electrical components came from, and how much it costs. These factors can change as automakers change prices, open new factories, or switch parts suppliers, so head to CR’s EV incentive finder for the latest about tax credits, and read our guide to EV tax credits to learn more. If the car you’re interested in doesn’t qualify, consider leasing. You might be able to take advantage of a tax credit using a different method.

Your state or even your local utility company may have additional incentives or discounts, too. There are also federal, state, and local incentives that can significantly reduce the cost of installing a charger at home.

Should You Lease or Buy an EV?

If you’re considering an electric vehicle, you should think about leasing instead of buying. Although the market for EVs is changing rapidly and unpredictably, leasing offers some advantages .

You can qualify for a full $7,500 federal tax credit without meeting restrictive federal requirements on where an electric car was made, how much it costs, or how much a lessee makes. Because you lease for only a few years, you won’t be stuck with a car that has outdated battery technology or charging standards, because these are still rapidly evolving. And if an automaker drops the price of a new EV by thousands of dollars overnight—as Ford recently did on the F-150 Lightning—you won’t take the hit if your leased vehicle is suddenly worth less than it was the day before.

Photo: Audi Photo: Audi

Where Will You Charge It?

Chances are, you’ll do the majority of your charging at home. In a fall 2022 Consumer Reports nationally representative survey of 943 Americans who say they own or lease EVs, we asked them to estimate what percentage of their charging happens at different locations on a typical week. On average, those who do any charging at home say that 64% of their charging happens at home; those who do any charging at public chargers do 31% of their charging there; and those who plug in at work at all do 30% of their charging there.

If you plan on charging at home, that usually means you’ll need ready access to a 240-volt EV charger . These are available online through Amazon, Costco, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sam’s Club, among others, and we’ve tested the most popular models . The cost is typically $500 to $700. Unless you are pushing the range limit on a daily basis, you won’t have to fill up your EV from empty all the way to full very often.

You’ll need a professional electrician to install a Level 2 charger. An installation entails putting a special 240-volt receptacle, like the ones used for a clothes dryer, in your garage or near your driveway. You can also hardwire a charger, which may allow for quicker charging. Expect to pay about $500 to $1,200 for the work, plus $500 to $700 for the wall-mounted charging unit. Of course, costs will vary depending on your specific setup. Installing a charger in an older home that needs a wiring upgrade could cost thousands.

If you don’t have a garage, don’t worry: Nearly all chargers are weatherproof and waterproof and are designed to safely be installed outdoors. But if you don’t own your own home and can’t get permission to install a charger in your rental, or if you don’t have off-street parking at all, you may be unable to install a charging station.

A few EVs, including the Ford F-150 Lightning, Genesis GV60, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Rivian R1T, have built-in plugs that can provide short-term electric power for smaller household goods and appliances.

What About Public EV Chargers?

Although there are now more than 53,000 U.S. public charging locations, most of them are Level 2 chargers—the same kind you’d have installed at home—and take many hours to fully charge a battery (more on that below). 

If you’re on a long road trip, you’ll most likely want to charge at publicly accessible DC fast chargers. These are becoming more common, even if they aren’t as ubiquitous or easy to use as gas stations. Most of them are available off major highways or at rest areas. 

How easy they are to use can often depend on what kind of vehicle you drive and brand of charger you’re trying to use. Tesla owners have access to a wide network of Tesla Supercharger charging stations , and we have found that they make topping up a Tesla seamless, convenient, and relatively quick. Owners of other EVs rely on a patchwork of chargers that aren’t always convenient to access, might not always charge rapidly, and usually require the user to fumble through an app or swipe a credit card to activate the charger. (Some—but not all—Tesla Superchargers are opening up to owners of EVs from other brands.) Nissan Leaf owners will have to search for a fast charger with a specific kind of plug, called CHAdeMO, which isn’t used by any other new pure EV sold in the U.S. 

Many automakers have said their vehicles will be compatible with some Tesla Superchargers starting in 2024. We’re keeping a close eye on this development. 

Plugging in a vehicle can require more physical effort than gassing up a car, too, especially if you have to drag a heavy cord to reach the car’s charging port. There are no “full serve” charging stations, and because EVs have their charging ports installed in various places on the vehicle, not all chargers are conveniently set up for a charging cord to reach the outlet.

Before you go on a trip, download apps that can help, such as those from the ChargePoint and Electrify America charging networks. PlugShare is helpful for locating public chargers, too. Some vehicles have charging station data built into their navigation systems and can send you on a route that includes fast chargers. A Better Route Planner is a great smartphone app alternative that will help you plan trips with included charge stops. Always have a backup plan in case a charger isn’t working or takes longer to charge than you expect.

ev car buying journey

How Long Does It Take to Charge an EV?

If you charge at home, a typical 240-volt, 32-amp (Level 2) charger takes between 9 and 13 hours to fully charge an EV that can go more than 200 miles—about 25 to 30 miles of charge for every hour your vehicle is plugged in. A public Level 2 charger charges at the same rate but is appropriate for cases where people might spend a few hours at a restaurant or library or when parked at a train station, taking advantage of the opportunity to top off.  

Things get a lot more complex with DC fast chargers, which can typically charge a battery from 20 percent to 80 percent in about a half-hour, on average. Tesla’s Superchargers are even quicker, with the speed varying by model, although many of them are open only to Tesla vehicles. Exactly how fast your EV charges depends on the size of the battery, how fast the car is able to take the charge, the amperage of the circuit, and even the weather.

In theory, chargers that can deliver up to 150 kW of power can add up to 9 miles of range per minute for some vehicles. Chargers that deliver up to 350 kW of power can add about 20 miles of range per minute—but only if the car has a compatible plug and is designed to accept ultra-fast charging. 

In other words, if you drive a Ford Mach-E, Kia Niro EV, or Chevrolet Bolt—none of which is designed to accept ultra-fast charging—don’t bother searching for a 350-kW charger because your car can’t charge at that speed. Instead, the car will limit the flow of electricity based on the car’s max acceptance rate. For the example of the Mach-E, that’s 115 kW, which means a 150-kW charger would’ve been plenty. Although a Porsche Taycan or Hyundai Ioniq 5 can take advantage of the faster chargers, these stations can be harder to find—and in higher demand—than a 150-kW charger.

In addition, big vehicles with big batteries—like the GMC Hummer EV and Ford F-150 Lightning—take longer to charge, just as conventional trucks and SUVs with big fuel tanks take longer to fill.

In our own evaluations, we observed that EVs charge faster at DC charging stations when the battery is low and gradually ramp down the charging speed. We also noticed variations in charging speeds between different locations even within the same network, and that charging often took longer than manufacturers’ claims.

Photo: Kia Photo: Kia

What Is an Electric Vehicle Like to Drive?

We’ve found that most electric cars deliver instant power from a stop, and they are both smooth and quiet when underway, which is very gratifying. Even the most affordable modern EVs can post 0-to-60-mph times that would put a gas-powered muscle car to shame.

The driving experience can be quite different from a traditional gasoline-fueled car. There’s no transmission changing gears, and regenerative braking—which uses the car’s momentum as it slows down or coasts to create extra electricity—can start slowing down the car as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator. You can usually adjust how aggressively an EV accelerates or how quickly its regenerative brakes slow down the vehicle. Many offer what’s called “one-pedal driving,” where the driver can speed up or slow down just by modulating the accelerator pedal.  

Despite their heavy batteries, EVs typically handle well because that battery is positioned low in the vehicle and there is no heavy engine over the front axle. Our testers often rave that many new EVs are very enjoyable to drive on our test track, even without the visceral thrum of a gas engine.

How Does Temperature Affect EV Range?

In cold weather, an EV’s range can drop dramatically because of the limitations of battery chemistry and unique power demands, such as managing battery and cabin temperatures. In our tests , we found that cold weather saps between 25 and 32 percent of range when cruising at 70 mph compared with the same conditions in mild weather and warm weather, respectively. Even with air conditioning on, we found that 80° F weather was optimal for battery range.

Before you drive, you can warm up your car while it’s still plugged in. That way, you won’t have to use valuable battery capacity to heat up the car’s interior, which would reduce range. Warming up your EV while it’s plugged in will also keep the battery warm, which makes it easier to accept a fast charge while on the road.

Photo: Volkswagen Photo: Volkswagen

Can Roadside Assistance Help You if Your EV Runs Out of Charge?

An electric vehicle gives you plenty of warning before it runs out of range, so if you can’t make it to a charger, you’ll at least be able to safely pull over. If you find yourself in this jam, many roadside assistance services—including AAA and those offered by automakers and insurers— will tow you home (if it’s not too far) or to a charging station. They may even send a mobile charger out to you. Many new EVs come with at least a few months of roadside assistance. Check your car’s manual or the automaker’s website to see what is covered.

What About Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids?

If a pure EV doesn’t fit your lifestyle but you still want to save money on fuel and reduce your use of fossil fuels, consider a hybrid or plug-in hybrid ( PHEV ) vehicle. Hybrid vehicles combine a battery pack, an electric motor that drives the car at low speeds, and a gas engine that kicks in for higher speeds, climbing hills, or recharging the battery. They offer significant fuel savings and lowered emissions compared with a gas-powered car, and they don’t ever need to be plugged in. However, they aren’t as efficient as a pure EV of a comparable size. (Learn more about hybrids here .)

PHEVs can operate on electric power alone for anywhere from 15 miles to 50 miles. Once their battery power is depleted, plug-ins transition from running on mostly electricity to operating as regular hybrids and driving about as far as a regular car, and they can quickly refuel at any gas station. Some PHEVs even qualify for a tax credit . However, unless they are plugged in regularly, they may not be as efficient as a traditional hybrid. (Learn more about PHEVs here .)

Electric Cars 101

Electric cars are bringing some of the biggest changes the auto industry has seen in years. On the “ Consumer 101 ” TV show, Consumer Reports expert Jake Fisher explains to host Jack Rico why these vehicles might not be as newfangled as you think.

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How to Choose and Buy an Electric Vehicle

Choosing and buying an electric car is different than buying a gas-powered vehicle. The most important EV factors are range, charging, price, incentives and performance.

2022 Lucid Air

Lucid Group, Inc.

2022 Lucid Air

Electric vehicles, or EVs, have increased in popularity to the point that you pass them on the road almost every time you go for a drive. There are a lot of models to choose from (and more debut each year), so it's easier than ever for buyers to find an EV that they like. However, first-time buyers looking to escape the tyranny of gas prices and go electric often have questions they want answered before they start shopping.

Unlike gasoline-powered cars and gas-electric hybrids , EVs require you to think about range and charging. They also have some unique terminology that may be unfamiliar to new buyers, almost like their own little dialect of automotive language. These issues can apply to dealers as well, so it's important to select a dealer who understands EVs and related incentives. You can also choose a carmaker that skips dealers altogether and sells online.


In the following sections, we'll take an in-depth look at the factors you should consider if you're looking to buy or lease a new electric car.

How Do You Choose the Right Electric Car?

In some ways, buying an electric car is no different than any other vehicle. For example, you'll still want to choose a model that fits your needs, budget and lifestyle. You need to seriously consider how you use your vehicle, where you're going to charge it and which incentives are available.

The first step is to take a close look at what you need from a car.

Where Do You Drive, What Do You Carry?

While today's crop of electric cars performs admirably, there are some tasks they're not quite ready for. If you regularly travel long distances in areas with few EV chargers or don't have a reliable place to charge your EV, you might want to wait a couple of years until there are better options.

You can easily find EVs that can carry five people today, but only a couple can carry up to seven. Need more seats? There are only a handful of options available, and they’re not cheap, but there will be more in the coming years, and prices may eventually level off.

With those exceptions, there's probably an EV that's right for you in today's market. Offerings vary from affordable compact hatchbacks with decent range and peppy performance to electric cars, crossovers, SUVs and even pickup trucks with breathtaking performance and price tags to match.

Where Will You Charge?

Suppose you're living in a home with a dedicated space where an electric vehicle charging station can be installed or your employer provides workplace charging for employees. In that case, the decision to buy an electric car is easy. Like most EV drivers, you'll charge at home or the office, and your vehicle will be ready to go when you wake up in the morning or when you leave work.

On the other hand, if you park on the street or your apartment parking area doesn't have chargers, the decision to buy an electric vehicle becomes more complex. Getting an EV without having a reliable charging strategy is a recipe for disappointment. This is especially true if there are few reliable public charging solutions in your area.

Public EV Charging

Getty Images | Cavan Images

Though most new EVs have the ability to charge from public DC fast-charging stations, using them as your primary charging source can get quite expensive . Not only can some DC fast chargers be nearly as costly as putting gas in a car, using them too often can reduce the lifespan of your EV's battery pack.

If you must rely on public charging, there are Level 2 stations all over the country, and many are free. Charging at a public Level 2 charging station is comparable to charging at home at a 240-volt outlet (we explain the various charging levels in more detail later). However, you’ll need to make sure ahead of time that such a station exists near you and that it's reliable and readily available. You’ll also need to carve out a chunk of time in your schedule to use it on a regular basis.

Do You Qualify for Electric Vehicle Incentives?

This is an important point that every EV shopper needs to think about, as there are federal, state, local and utility credits available to electric car buyers. Some cities and states offer more incentives than others, and you'll need to do your research to find out if you qualify for any other them. You don't want to pay more than you need to for your vehicle.

The big incentive is the revamped Federal Electric Car Tax Credit , which comes as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. It can provide a tax credit of up to $7,500 if you purchase a new EV and up to $4,000 if you purchase a used EV from a dealer. These credits have very specific rules and limitations, so make sure you do your homework and talk to an expert before moving forward.

State, local and utility incentives vary dramatically depending on where you live. Some give you a break at the time of purchase, while others make you wait until you file your taxes. Some are available on leased electric cars, and some apply to the purchase of used EVs.

Knowing what incentives you qualify to receive can help you set the right car-buying budget.

Once you've decided that an electric car is right for you and you have an idea of your needs and budget, it's time to start shopping.

At or near the top of your list of considerations should be the range of the EV. When thinking about EV range, it's important to consider how far you reasonably need to drive between charging. And you can’t simply rely on the EPA’s estimates, since there are many factors that can reduce an EV’s range, such as cold weather. Underestimating your required range will leave you with constant range anxiety, thinking about how soon you need to find a charger.

Buying a car with too much range can be costly. Unlike a gas tank, which is lighter as it empties, a battery pack remains the same weight no matter whether it's empty or full. Why carry the extra weight of a high-capacity battery if you don't need it?

Driving range varies widely among today’s electric vehicles. At the lower end, you'll find a few cars and SUVs with ranges of just over 100 miles. That's plenty for most daily commutes, but if you regularly take long drives or stress out anytime your fuel gauge gets below half, you'll want something with a longer range between charging sessions.

A few longer-range models can travel over 350 miles on a single charge, though those vehicles come with steep price tags.

Most EVs on the road today can travel around 250 miles on a single charge. You'll find everything from subcompact SUVs to high-performance sedans and crossovers with single-charge ranges that are in that ballpark.

The official range of electric vehicles must be certified by the EPA before a car can go on sale. However, most EV makers will announce an estimated range target when they debut the vehicle. Note that a manufacturer's estimated range can vary substantially from the final EPA numbers. Sometimes an automaker will publish an estimated range based on the European testing cycle. That measurement is not equivalent to a car's expected EPA range due to substantial differences in how the vehicles are tested.

There are three main ways to charge an EV.

Level 1 charging is basically plugging your electric vehicle into a typical household outlet. It will get the job of charging done, but very slowly. If you're just going to use your EV for a few miles of driving each day, you can get by with Level 1 charging. Much more use than that, though, and you'll want to charge your vehicle using a faster type of charging.

Level 2 electric vehicle charging uses a 240-volt connection to charge significantly faster than a Level 1 plug. Level 2 charging stations can be installed in your home , workplace or public areas. A Level 2 charging station can recharge a typical EV overnight or during a workday. Different EVs can charge at varying rates, however, so you want to match any charging station you buy with your electric car's capabilities.

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Volta EV Charging Network

DC Fast Charging

If you're planning to use your electric car for any long-distance excursions, you'll want it to have the ability to charge from DC fast chargers. Found at public charging stations , DC fast chargers can add dozens, if not hundreds, of miles of range to your EV in 30 minutes. DC fast charging is available at different speeds, and not every vehicle can take advantage of the fastest charging speeds. When you attach your car to a fast charger, the car and charging station work together to achieve the fastest charging speed possible.

There are currently three DC fast charging standards in the U.S. CHAdeMO was an early standard, and it is only found on one EV sold today. Buy a used car, though, and it might have a CHAdeMO connector. SAE Combo is quickly becoming the most popular type of DC fast-charging plug, with the vast majority of new cars using simple-to-connect SAE Combo plugs. The final standard is the Tesla Supercharger Network, which is only compatible with Tesla vehicles, though Tesla is in the process of opening its network up to all EVs.

Price, Incentives and Cost of Ownership

Few buyers just head off to purchase a new car without considering the price, and it's no different with EVs. It's also worth noting that, at least for now, electric vehicles tend to cost a bit more than their gas-only counterparts, with prices starting around $26,000 and climbing to well over $100,000 for some high-end luxury models.

That's not the whole story, however. The price of most EVs can be reduced by federal, state, local and utility incentives. As mentioned earlier, the Federal Electric Car Tax Credit can return as much as $7,500 to the wallets of electric vehicle buyers. State incentives and tax credits vary dramatically, depending on where you live.

In some states, driving an electric vehicle comes with penalties, such as higher registration costs. In others, there are additional fringe benefits, such as carpool lane access, that aren't offered to cars that use gasoline as their fuel.

Some lenders, especially credit unions, offer special auto loan rates for buyers of green vehicles, including electric cars.

Arguably most important, while EVs cost more than gas-powered cars, they’re typically cheaper to own. If you charge at home, the cost of the electricity will be significantly less than the cost of gas. In addition, electric cars don’t have many fluids to change, and they don’t require nearly as much scheduled maintenance as their gas-powered cousins.


Cars powered by electricity perform differently than those powered by gasoline.

While they handle like traditional vehicles, they accelerate differently because of their electric motors. Unlike vehicles powered by gasoline, which take a bit of time to build to maximum power and torque, electric motors reach their peak power the moment you press the accelerator pedal. That gives electric cars lively performance from a stop, with some models able to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in three seconds or less.

Of course, extreme performance comes at a price, and models with the quickest acceleration are the most expensive EVs in the marketplace. Even the most affordable EVs have ample performance for urban errands, though.

Would a Plug-In Hybrid or Traditional Hybrid Be a Better Choice?

Many limitations of currently available electric vehicles can be surmounted by purchasing a plug-in hybrid or traditional hybrid vehicle . Both use a blend of electric motors and gasoline engines to provide vastly improved fuel economy, compared to gas-only vehicles.

The difference between a traditional hybrid and a plug-in hybrid vehicle (or PHEV) is that while a conventional hybrid uses its gasoline engine to charge its battery, you can charge a PHEV from an external source of electricity, such as a Level 2 charging station. A PHEV can typically travel about 20 to 40 miles on electricity alone, after which its gas engine automatically kicks in, and it functions like a conventional hybrid.

Because a hybrid or PHEV can operate on gasoline alone, there's less range anxiety, and you don't have to plan charging stops on a long journey. You can just refuel at any gas station. However, both hybrids and PHEVs emit harmful tailpipe emissions just like gas cars. Only fully electric vehicles are emissions-free.

Buying an Electric Car

Like most cars, you can buy or lease a new electric car from a dealership or as a used vehicle from a new car dealer, used car dealer or private party. Increasingly, you can also buy new EVs directly from the automaker or entirely online, with home delivery.

From a Dealership

Buying a car that's electric from a dealership should be just like purchasing a gas-powered vehicle, though that's not always the case. The level of expertise in selling EVs and educating buyers about an EV's pros and cons varies greatly by the dealer.

A parking lot with charging stations for electric cars.

Getty Images | iStockphoto

A parking lot with charging stations for electric cars.

An excellent way to learn about the best dealers to buy an EV from is by exploring online owner forums for vehicles you're considering. Consumers can be vocal about which retailers truly understand EVs and which do not.

Electric vehicles can be financed and insured like traditional cars, with some lenders giving preferred rates to buyers of alternative-fuel or “green” vehicles.

From an Automaker

Some electric vehicle makers don't have dealerships in the traditional sense. Instead, they might have showrooms, where you can look at vehicles and do test drives, but you can't complete the purchase. Instead, you complete the sales or lease process online.

Because of strict dealer franchise laws, it's more difficult to purchase a vehicle without a dealership network in some states.

Another route that a few automakers are taking is to run much of the purchase process through their own website, then have the final steps performed by a local dealership.

Should I Buy or Lease an Electric Car?

While you can purchase or lease a car that's electric, just like a traditional gas car, the decision can be more complicated with an EV.

Some experts suggest only leasing electric cars . Because technology is advancing at such a rapid clip, you simply don't know if something much better will come along in a few years, reducing the value of a vehicle purchased today to nothing. There's still some uncertainty about the lifespan of electric vehicle batteries, or an EV's degradation in range over time. Better to lease a car, they say, and have the option to jump to a new car in a few years.

Should You Buy or Lease an Electric Car?

John M. Vincent and Steven Loveday April 11, 2023

Electric cars charging

On the other hand, when you lease an electric car, you may lose the ability to take advantage of some tax credits and other purchase incentives. Instead of you receiving the credits, they're taken by the leasing company, which can then determine whether, and by how much, the incentive benefits the lessee.

More Electric Car Shopping Tools From U.S. News & World Report

Any car purchase or lease starts with finding a model that meets your needs, lifestyle and budget. Our new car rankings and reviews are crafted to answer the questions shoppers tell us are critical to making smart buying and leasing decisions.

After you've found the right car, it's time to find the right deal. Our new car purchase deals page showcases the best financing and cash back offers available in the marketplace. Our lease deals page shows incentives with low monthly payments and little cash due at signing.

An easy way to save some cash on a new car purchase or lease is taking advantage of the U.S. News Best Price Program . It connects shoppers with local dealers, offering significant savings with pre-negotiated prices, home delivery and online sales options.

A car-buying journey doesn't end until you have your new wheels protected by the right insurance. Our guide to auto insurance shows you the coverage you need, money-saving car insurance discounts and the cheapest auto insurance in your state.

Save on your monthly payments! Find the best local prices on your next car.

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Electric Cars Are Suddenly Becoming Affordable

More efficient manufacturing, falling battery costs and intense competition are lowering sticker prices for battery-powered models to within striking distance of gasoline cars.

Three electric vehicles parked at a dealership. There are several yellow school buses in the background.

By Jack Ewing

Alex Lawrence, a dealer in Salt Lake City who specializes in used electric cars, has seen a change over the last year in the kinds of customers who are coming into his showroom. They used to be well-heeled professionals who could drop $70,000 on a Rivian luxury pickup truck.

Recently, Mr. Lawrence said, customers have been snapping up used Teslas for a little over $20,000, after applying a $4,000 federal tax credit.

“We’re seeing younger people,” Mr. Lawrence said. “We are seeing more blue-collar and entry-level white-collar people. The purchase price of the car has suddenly become in reach.”

Regarded by conservative politicians and other critics as playthings of the liberal elite, electric vehicles are fast becoming more accessible. Prices are falling because of increased competition, lower raw-material costs and more efficient manufacturing. Federal tax credits of up to $7,500 for new electric cars, often augmented by thousands of dollars in state incentives, push prices even lower.

At the same time, technology is improving quickly and making electric vehicles more practical. Cars that can travel more than 300 miles on a fully charged battery are becoming common, and charging times are dropping below 30 minutes. The number of fast chargers, which can top up a battery in less than half an hour, grew 36 percent from April 2023 to April 2024.

Carmakers including Tesla, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the owner of Jeep, have announced plans for electric vehicles that would sell new for as little as $25,000.

“The E.V. market has hit an inflection point,” said Randy Parker, chief executive of Hyundai Motor America, which will begin producing electric vehicles at a factory in Georgia by the end of the year. “The early adopters have come. They’ve got their cars. Now you’re starting to see us transition to a mass market.”

All this is good news for proponents of electric vehicles and the Biden administration, which is aiming for half of new cars sold to be electric by 2030 as part of the president’s plan to combat climate change. Even if Republicans gain control of the White House and Congress and follow through on promises to dismantle electric vehicle subsidies, they may not be able to undo the market forces pushing down prices.

“There may be some hiccups in the exact pace and scale of E.V. sales if there are major policy changes, but I wouldn’t expect the E.V. market to flatline,” said Peter Slowik, who leads research on passenger cars at the International Council on Clean Transportation, a research organization. “Most automakers are committed to an all-electric future, and many are planning on a timeline that goes far beyond the next administration.”

Electric cars, sales of which have slowed in recent months, are still more expensive than gasoline models, costing an average of $55,252 in the United States in April, according to estimates by Kelley Blue Book. That is a decline of 9 percent from April 2023, but still about $6,700 more than the average for all vehicles.

But Mr. Slowik’s group estimates that cars and sport-utility vehicles capable of traveling 400 miles on a full battery will cost less than cars with internal combustion engines in 2030, even before taking into account government subsidies. (Pickup trucks, which require bigger batteries, will take a little longer, not reaching parity for 400-mile models until 2033.)

Those calculations do not take into account lower fuel and maintenance costs that strengthen the financial argument for electric vehicles. Electricity is almost always cheaper per mile than gasoline, and battery-powered vehicles don’t need oil changes, engine air filters or spark plugs. For people who drive a lot, electric cars may already be a better deal. At the same time, some automakers are offering strong discounts on E.V. models as an enticement for buyers.

While prices are clearly trending downward, there are risks. China supplies more than half of the lithium-ion batteries used in cars sold in the United States, according to Interact Analysis, a research firm. Those batteries will become more expensive because the Biden administration announced in May that it would raise tariffs on them to 25 percent from 7.5 percent.

Many companies are building battery factories in the United States and Canada , but most of these won’t produce enough batteries to replace China for several years.

Raw materials are another risk. The price of lithium and other materials required for batteries has plunged in the last 12 months, making electric cars cheaper. But commodity prices could soar again.

The recent slowdown in the growth of electric car sales has prompted Tesla, Ford and others to delay plans to expand manufacturing. But many analysts expect sales to pick up as a glut of models pushes down prices, and as the charging network grows. High prices and the fear of not being able to find a place to recharge are the two biggest reasons people hesitate to buy an electric vehicle, surveys show.

For many people, the car’s price is not the only expense to consider. People who live in apartments often depend on public charging plugs. Public charging, besides being less convenient, tends to be more costly than charging at home.

Still, the forces pushing prices down are powerful. Manufacturing costs are dropping as traditional carmakers, who were slow to sell electric vehicles, start to apply their decades of experience with mass production to the new technology.

Later this year, for example, General Motors will begin selling an electric version of its Chevrolet Equinox sport-utility vehicle that will have a range of more than 300 miles and sell for less than $30,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit. And the company plans to sell an even cheaper car, a new Chevrolet Bolt, next year.

The Equinox and Bolt will be built on G.M.’s Ultium platform, a collection of components that can be used for a variety of vehicles including pickups and luxury Cadillacs. G.M., which has cut costs by using the same batteries and parts for different models, has said its electric vehicles will become profitable in the second half of this year.

Electric cars still cost more to manufacture than cars with internal combustion engines, said Prateek Biswas, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a research firm. But costs will come down as companies learn how to produce the cars more efficiently, Mr. Biswas said — for example, by eliminating rare minerals from electric motors or replacing copper wiring with aluminum.

At the same time, the cost to make a gasoline car is rising because of stricter emissions regulations. “At some point it will be easier to just move toward E.V.s,” Mr. Biswas said.

Competition is also intensifying. Toyota and other Japanese carmakers with a reputation for delivering reliable and affordable vehicles are belatedly offering electric vehicles. Honda plans to begin producing them at an Ohio factory next year.

There will be more than 100 fully electric models for sale in the United States by next year, according to Cars.com, an online sales platform, double the number available last year. “We’re at the point now where anybody that wants an E.V. for a price point can actually get an E.V.,” said Rebecca Lindland, senior director of industry data at Cars Commerce, which operates Cars.com.

Used car prices are arguably more important than prices of new cars. Most people buy used cars. A vibrant used market vastly increases the number of people who can consider an electric vehicle.

Models from Tesla, Nissan or G.M. have been on the road for three years or more, generating inventory for dealers as the original owners buy new ones. More than half of the used electric vehicles on the market sell for less than $30,000, according to Recurrent, a research firm that focuses on the used E.V. market.

Jesse Lore, owner of Green Wave Electric Vehicles in North Hampton, N.H., recently sold a used Chevy Bolt for $15,000. After applying a federal tax credit for used electric vehicles, the price was $11,000. Besides the lure of affordable prices, he noted, his customers like that electric vehicles are quieter than gasoline models, better for the environment, and faster because an electric motor generates instant torque.

“The car is more fun than whatever they’re driving now,” Mr. Lore said.

Jack Ewing writes about the auto industry with an emphasis on electric vehicles. More about Jack Ewing


Here's the state of U.S. EV adoption in 2024

Leading this set of facts and figures: ev sales were up 60% in the u.s. last year.

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It seems, as we approach the mid-point of 2024, that there can’t be enough surveys, theories, reports and analyses about the state of electric vehicles worldwide. But there’s always room for one more.

A comprehensive EV primer, "Electric Vehicle Statistics 2024," from the folks at MarketWatch, examines EV sales, market share, environmental effects, mileage figures and more.  A key finding: The U.S. saw an increase of 60% year over year in EV sales, from 1 million in 2022 to 1.6 million in 2023.

Socially-conscious readers will likely gravitate to the findings about the ecological positives and negatives of EVs. One of the report’s many conclusions is that “although there are many myths about how eco-friendly EVs really are, the overall carbon footprint of EVs is still smaller than those of gas-powered cars" — even accounting for their manufacturing and charging.

The guide addresses pollution from battery production and from the massive amounts of electricity needed to power growing fleets of EVs. While electric vehicle manufacturing can create more carbon pollution than creating gas-powered vehicles, “the overall carbon footprint of EVs is still smaller than those of gasoline cars — even accounting for the carbon pollution required during the manufacturing process.”

In 2022 California, led states with the most EV registrations, followed by Florida, Texas and Washington.

Prospective buyers may find some value in the MarketWatch list of affordable vehicles, most of them ranging is price from between $30,000 and $50,000. But customers should be aware that the prices in the piece will be influenced by options, insurance costs, sales taxes, document fees and other expenditures that may be hidden. There’s an explainer as well about current and future tax incentive eligibility rules for EV purchases.

So why doesn’t everyone own or consider buying an electric vehicle? The story points out obvious reasons: anxiety over the driving range before the battery charge is exhausted; lack of enough charging stations; initial retail prices higher than those of similar internal combustion-powered (ICE) vehicles. And, for many, a natural resistance to embrace still-evolving technologies.

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American interest in electric vehicles short circuits for first time in four years

Funny what happens if you take tesla out of the numbers, though.

Interest in electric vehicles has waned slightly among US motorists for the first time since 2020 says Pew Research, with only three out of ten Americans right now saying they're considering a battery-powered ride for their next purchase.

That's a drop of nine percent in the past year, according to the analysis, which found respondents were most concerned about EV reliability and cost when comparing them to their gas-guzzling counterparts.

Even more interesting is the considerable decline in the number of people who believe EVs are better for the environment than internal combustion engines. While respondents still said that environmental benefits are the best thing about EVs, only 47 percent now believe that to be the case – a 20 percent drop since 2021.

The data also suggests that enthusiasm for EVs is largely split on political grounds, with far more self-described Democrats showing interest in an EV, and a full 35 percent of self-identified Republicans believing that electric cars are actually worse for the environment than gas vehicles.

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To be fair to those not convinced that EVs are an environmental benefit, there are concerns to be raised about the technology. Battery production can be incredibly environmentally destructive , and charging EVs using energy generated by fossil fuel-burning power plants doesn't exactly mean they're running clean.

Nonetheless, the data does not suggest that EVs are inherently worse for the environment.

According to the US Department of Energy, an all-electric vehicle is responsible for emitting the equivalent of 2,727 pounds of CO 2 per year, while an all-gas vehicle emits an average of 12,594 lbs of CO 2 equivalent per year. That's a national average that accounts for charging EVs with fossil fuels too, with breakdowns available per state.

Considering transportation was responsible for 28 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 – the largest share across all sectors – replacing more gas-powered vehicles would naturally reduce emissions, even if they were being charged using energy generated from fossil fuels.

We've asked Pew if it had any explanation from respondents about their belief EVs were worse for the environment.

One thing we can all agree on: Not enough EV infrastructure

US Democrats continue to have a rosy picture of the EV infrastructure rollout that President Biden promised in 2022 when the government earmarked $900 million for EV infrastructure expansion around the US with plans to hand out an additional $4 billion. 

According to Pew, the messaging has landed with Democratic voters, only 38 percent of whom believe the US is falling behind on building enough EV infrastructure. Seventy-six percent of Republican respondents believe the same.

Nationally, that works out to an average of 56 percent of Americans being unsure the US is doing enough to expand EV infrastructure, and that's the crowd that seems to be on to something.

As of March 2024, only seven charging stations had been built using the EV infrastructure funds included in the bipartisan infrastructure law – far fewer than the 500,000 chargers the Biden administration hopes will be built by 2030. 

Those infrastructure concerns seem to coincide well with desire to buy an EV, with 58 percent of respondents that are confident in the US EV infrastructure rollout saying they're interested in driving one, and only 16 percent of those unsure saying the same.

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Battery electric vehicles lose their spark in europe as hybrids steal the show.

The International Energy Agency believes the number of EVs on the road could increase tenfold by 2030. If charging infrastructure rollout doesn't continue, US car buyers may end up even less inclined to buy an EV over a fossil fuel alternative.

That said, there is one bright spot in the study: EV interest may be flagging, but hybrids are on the rise.

"Hybrid vehicle sales have been increasing for the past three years," Pew said. "Our survey finds that Americans are more likely to consider a hybrid than an electric vehicle," with four in ten US car buyers saying they were interested in one.

Is all this uncertainty attributable to Tesla?

There's also one more caveat to add to any look at the state of the EV industry right now, and that's Tesla.

EV sales have been slowing in the US, but a lot of that downturn is due to the fact that Tesla sales are plummeting to the point where Elon Musk's automaker is on the verge of losing its market majority in the United States.

Sales of EVs in America declined in April, marking the first sales drop since 2020, which coincides with Pew's data on declining interest so far this year. For the first quarter, there was an increase in total electric car sales, albeit a slower one than previous quarters, with a 15 percent year-on-year rise.

Take Tesla out of the mix, according to data [PDF] from Cox Automotive, and EV sales in the country actually increased 33 percent from Q1 2023 to Q1 2024.

Slide showing how if you take Tesla out of the mix, EV US sales increased YoY

Cox Automotive slide showing how if you take Tesla out of the mix, estimated EV sales in the US increased year-on-year by 33 percent ... Click to enlarge

This raises the question of whether it's interest in EVs declining in the US, or Elon Musk's antics.

Either way, Gartner VP of automotive Mike Ramsay told us, the EV market will likely rebound in the US, but different incentives will be needed to prevent adoption from being sluggish.

"If you look at what has happened in China, it’s clear that a large country can shift to EVs and not suffer from the shift," Ramsay said in an emailed statement. "But it may take longer in the US than other regions because we have focused on incentives to buy EVs without adding disincentives to own a gasoline-fueled vehicle. Without that, it will take some time for the shift to happen." ®

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About 3 in 10 Americans would seriously consider buying an electric vehicle

An electric car charges near a gas station on May 21, 2024, in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Electric vehicle sales continue to hit record highs, but the pace of growth in the United States has slowed for the first time since mid-2020 . And a new Pew Research Center survey finds that only about three-in-ten Americans say they would very or somewhat seriously consider purchasing an electric vehicle (EV), down 9 percentage points in the past year.

Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to understand Americans’ views of electric vehicles. For this analysis, we surveyed 8,638 U.S. adults from May 13 to 19, 2024.

Everyone who took part in the survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way, nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology .

Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

A diverging bar chart showing that about 3 in 10 Americans say they would seriously consider purchasing an electric vehicle.

Amid this softening interest, we asked Americans about factors that could influence their choice of electric versus gas-powered vehicles: environmental benefits, cost, driving experience and reliability. We also looked at how confident Americans are that there will be enough EV charging stations and infrastructure to meet demand.

Related: How Americans View National, Local and Personal Energy Choices

Are EVs better for the environment than gas vehicles?

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing how Americans assess the pros and cons of electric vehicles.

One area where Americans rate EVs more favorably than gas vehicles is their environmental benefits. Nearly half (47%) say EVs are better for the environment than gas vehicles. Smaller shares say they are about the same (31%) or are worse for the environment (20%).

However, the share of Americans who say electric vehicles are better for the environment than gas vehicles has decreased 20 points since 2021, from 67%.

Do EVs cost less to buy and to charge?

Most Americans say EVs require a bigger up-front investment to buy than gas-powered vehicles (72%). Industry data shows that the average EV still costs more than the average gas vehicle, though this gap is narrowing .

Americans are split in their perceptions of the cost of charging or fueling these vehicles. Some 36% say EVs cost less to charge than gas-powered vehicles do to fuel, while 28% say EVs cost more and 32% think the costs are about the same.

Are EVs more fun to drive?

EV enthusiasts tout EVs’ faster acceleration and quiet engines as selling points over gas vehicles. But in our survey, just 13% say EVs are more fun to drive than gas vehicles. More than half (59%) say the two types of vehicles are about equally fun to drive.

Are EVs more reliable?

Amid reports about problems some EV owners have encountered , such as battery issues and squeaky brakes, half of Americans say electric vehicles are less reliable than gas vehicles. That share is up 16 points from 2021. Only 9% say EVs are more reliable, while 38% say electric and gas vehicles are about equally reliable.

Differences by party

On every dimension, Democrats view EVs more favorably than Republicans do.

A bar chart showing that Democrats have a much more positive impression of electric vehicles than Republicans do.

  • Environmental benefits: Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party are much more likely than Republicans and GOP leaners to say EVs are better for the environment than gas vehicles (69% vs. 24%).
  • Cost to buy: A majority of both Democrats and Republicans say EVs cost more to buy than gas vehicles. But fewer Democrats than Republicans say this (65% vs. 81%).
  • Cost to charge/fuel: Half of Democrats say EVs cost less to charge than gas vehicles do to fuel. That compares with a quarter of Republicans.
  • Reliability: Very few Democrats or Republicans think EVs are more reliable than gas vehicles, but Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say this (14% vs. 5%). Half of Democrats say EVs and gas vehicles are about the same on reliability, while 34% say EVs are less reliable. Republicans are even more negative, with 69% saying EVs are less reliable.
  • Fun: Small shares of both Democrats and Republicans say EVs are more fun to drive than gas-powered cars, but Democrats are more likely to say this (17% vs. 9%). The most common view among both groups is that EVs are about as fun to drive as gas cars.

Hybrid vehicle sales have been increasing for the past three years, and our survey finds that Americans are more likely to consider a hybrid than an electric vehicle. Some 43% of Americans say they would seriously consider purchasing a hybrid, compared with 29% who say this about an EV.

Still, a sizable share of the public (42%) say they would probably not consider a hybrid.

A diverging bar chart showing that roughly 4 in 10 Americans would seriously consider purchasing a hybrid vehicle.

Will there be enough EV charging stations and infrastructure?

Concerns about limited EV charging stations and infrastructure are one factor that can hold buyers back from switching from gas to electric vehicles.

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing that few Americans are confident U.S. will build charging infrastructure to support large numbers of EVs.

Overall, 56% of Americans are not too or not at all confident that the U.S. will build the necessary infrastructure to support large numbers of EVs. Another 31% are somewhat confident, while just 13% are extremely or very confident.

Republicans express strikingly low confidence in EV infrastructure. Only 6% are extremely or very confident the U.S. will build the necessary infrastructure, while 76% are not confident.

Democrats are more positive, but confidence is hardly widespread: 19% say they are extremely or very confident about this, while 38% are not confident. The share of Democrats who are extremely or very confident in EV infrastructure has decreased by 7 points from a year ago.

Illustrating the tie between infrastructure and interest, 58% of Americans who are extremely or very confident that the U.S. will build enough charging stations say they would seriously consider purchasing an EV. Only 16% of those who are not confident in EV infrastructure say the same.

Related: Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in the U.S.

Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

  • Climate, Energy & Environment

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Alec Tyson is an associate director of research at Pew Research Center .

Emma Kikuchi is is a research assistant focusing on science and society research at Pew Research Center .

How Americans View National, Local and Personal Energy Choices

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the u.s., how republicans view climate change and energy issues, how americans view future harms from climate change in their community and around the u.s., americans continue to have doubts about climate scientists’ understanding of climate change, most popular.

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ABOUT PEW RESEARCH CENTER  Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of  The Pew Charitable Trusts .

© 2024 Pew Research Center

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Why human interaction remains essential to the car buying journey

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Four key themes emerged from the latest EY Mobility Consumer Index.  

Even digital savvy EV buyers seek in-person reassurance when making a large financial commitment.

Dealers have an important role to play across the five groups of customer personas.

  • Dealers and OEMs need to adapt existing skills and assets to exploit adjacencies to emerging products and services.

I t’s no secret that major shifts are underway in automotive retail — from the product-centric and dealership-driven physical sales models of the past to the customer-centric, digitally enabled models of the future. But what are the consumer behaviors and expectations underpinning these changes, and have OEMs and dealers got their priorities right when it comes to addressing them?

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The findings of the latest EY Mobility Consumer Index (MCI) survey suggest that becoming customer centric is only partly about providing an enhanced digital experience. The physical dealership remains a powerful draw for consumers, who continue to place a high priority on the human factor when buying a car. This heightened focus on customer centricity is also an important factor in identifying and accessing emerging value pools in the automotive ecosystem. These value pools represent emerging and adjacent avenues for revenue and profitability growth. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers need to align their customer-centric strategies to maintain sustained growth in the long term.  

Now in its fourth year, the EY MCI report has become known for its detailed analysis of the mobility patterns and car-buying intentions of 14,500 consumers in 20 countries across the globe. Our results show that the dealership retains a crucial role for buyers of both electric vehicles (EVs) and internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, particularly in terms of experiencing a new car physically and for assurance that they have made the right vehicle choice. The relationships that consumers develop with dealer staff are important to them and drive loyalty. Even the more digitally savvy cohorts of EV buyers still like to have dealership staff on hand to answer questions about what remain relatively novel and fast-changing products in the minds of consumers, especially compared with the familiarity many feel toward ICE vehicles.  

At the same time, the use of digital channels for some parts of the buying journey is on the rise, particularly for stages such as pre-sales research and information gathering, and aftersales support.  

Consequently, the overall picture is more complicated and nuanced than the prevailing narrative suggests — beneath the overarching digital transition trend lie many different groups of automotive customers whose preference is for a varying combination of digital and physical channels.  

The challenge for both OEMs and dealers alike is how to become more truly customer centric through providing the omnichannel buying experiences that consumers actually want, while simultaneously maximizing long-term value for their own businesses by accessing novel as well as existing value pools.  

This article will look at four key themes inherent to that challenge, as revealed by the MCI report:  

1.       Navigating the EV vs. ICE buyer divide

2.       Reassure the enthusiasts, convince the skeptics

3.       Shifting gears: OEMs transform sales models

4.       Finding your place in the emerging value pools

Navigating the EV vs. ICE buyer divide

Our study suggests that for all buyers, whether ICE or EV, the purchasing journey increasingly starts online. While the buyers initiate their car buying journey online, they swiftly transition to dealerships for subsequent stages. When it comes to initial research and information gathering about a new vehicle, 83% of ICE buyers and 90% of EV buyers prefer to use online channels (including social media, third-party apps and dealership or OEM websites). Buyers also show a preference for digital channels in presales activities, such as using online car configurators, virtual reality car viewers and booking test drives.

However, digital first does not mean digital only. As the buying journey progresses, consumer preference shifts to include dealer visits to interact with real salespeople, to experience cars in the metal and to obtain in-person quotes. And when it comes to the actual purchase, the preference among all buyers for dealerships over online channels has actually seen a steady increase, up from 54% in 2021 to 61% in 2023.

Perhaps most strikingly of all, more EV than ICE buyers prefer a dealership sale, despite EV buyers being ostensibly more digitally “savvy”: 64% of EV buyers prefer to make a purchase at a dealership rather than online, compared to 58% of ICE buyers. Cars are not mobile phones, and even digital natives seek in-person product information and reassurance when making what is still the second largest financial commitment for most, after their homes.

Our findings suggest that consumers look to dealers to bolster three key elements of the experience that they are not comfortable getting entirely online:

1. Education and assurance

EVs in particular are still relatively novel in the minds of consumers; many will be considering their first EV after many previous ICE purchases. They arm themselves with information gleaned online but look at knowledgeable dealer staff for a richer level of interaction and for assurance that they are making a suitable choice of vehicle for their needs.

2. Product experience

While virtual tours are a valuable hook for dealers and OEMs alike, consumers still prefer to physically experience a car before they commit to buying it. The proportion of all car buyers visiting dealers to experience a car is slightly up 3% from 2022 at 66%. We still believe there is a gap in sharing the EV experience i.e. what it’s like owning and operating an EV at home that can help the buying experience. 

3. Price discovery

Despite the growing popularity of fixed-price retail with OEMs, the majority of consumers polled in the survey (over 60% of both EV and ICE buyers) prefer to visit multiple dealers to secure the best quote for a particular vehicle. The proportion of all car buyers visiting dealers to get quotes is up 6% on 2022 at 61%.

Customer persona analysis: reassure enthusiasts, convince skeptics

This year’s MCI survey includes a segmentation analysis of all respondents, based on attitudinal questions to establish their level of EV mindedness. This revealed five groups of customer personas ranging from EV Skeptics — the least EV-minded cohort — at the left-hand end of the scale to EV Enthusiasts — the most EV minded — at the right-hand end. Our findings suggest that dealers have an important role to play across this spectrum, from reassuring the Enthusiasts to persuading skeptics to consider an EV. 1

EV Enthusiasts (13% of all buyers)

EV Enthusiasts are notable for the commitment to sustainability, they are risk seekers, and they prioritize performance over cost. They show the greatest preference for digital channels for initial research and information gathering and are the most likely group to use digitally advanced experience centers for product testing.

But despite being the most digitally forward of buyers in the survey, EV Enthusiasts still seek reassurance that they are making the best choice and show a marked preference for visiting a dealer for the later stages of the journey. Around two-thirds of EV Enthusiasts choose to visit multiple dealers for quotes and to experience the car, while 64% prefer a dealer to make their final purchase (compared with only 12% and 9% who prefer a manufacturer or dealer website, respectively). By engaging actively with EV Enthusiasts through events and on social media platforms, dealers can make powerful allies out of this group, converting them to ambassadors not only for EVs but also for the dealers themselves.

EV Skeptics (11% of all buyers)

EV Skeptics by contrast are eco-doubters, naturally conservative and risk averse, and seek affordability above all. They show a marked preference for using dealerships at all stages of the buying process — 67% use dealers for information gathering, 65% to experience the car and 69% to complete the purchase. Educating this group is crucial for achieving the transition to EV powertrains, and it will be dealers who get this job done, via personal interactions tailored to individual concerns. Skeptics can’t be recruited to the EV cause via digital channels because they either aren’t in those channels as much as other cohorts, or they don’t trust them enough.

Shifting gears: OEMs transform sales models

A more customer-centric approach is the key to unlocking future growth.

In response to changing customer behavior and the need to accelerate the EV transition, OEMS are in the midst of transforming their sales models from product centric to customer centric. They are doing so because they recognize that a more customer-centric approach is the key to unlocking future growth, allowing them to better fulfill customer needs at the same time as reducing costs. The traditional dealership is being challenged by two alternative sales and distribution models in an effort to make this shift: the agency retail model and the direct-to-consumer model.

  • The direct-to-consumer model. This model is favored by new entrant OEMs who do not have a legacy distribution network. The direct-to-consumer model promises a high degree of control around pricing and the customer journey. But building reach and scale requires substantial investment from the OEM, and being close to the customer is only of value if the business can identify changing customer needs and agile enough to respond to them quickly.
  • The agency retail model. For incumbent OEMs looking to transition their legacy dealer networks, the agency retail model is increasingly becoming the favored option. This model offers more exposure to the customer and greater control of pricing and experience to the OEM while also making best use of their legacy dealership distribution networks. 

It’s still early days for the transition from traditional to agency retail models and many OEMs are experimenting with how — and how fast — to make the change. Trials include making new outlets in some geographies agency only, and splitting sales models between powertrains, with EV sold via the agency route and ICEs by traditional dealerships. OEMs also need to look at the scale and scope of their existing networks with a view to rightsizing them for the needs of new sales models.

Too far, too fast?

Whatever strategies OEMs are employing and whatever stage they are at in understanding and implementing these new models, they are all based on a few assumptions around consumer behavior:

  • Buyers prefer fixed prices to haggling for the best deal.
  • Virtual channels can replace physical ones for product experience and test drives.
  • Online channels will naturally become the predominant way of buying cars.

But these assumptions are not entirely borne out by the findings around real-world customer behavior and preferences. As the segmentation analysis shows, there are many different types of car buyers, each at a different stage on their journey toward buying an EV. OEMs need to meet all these potential customers on their own distinct terms and at whatever stage they have reached, rather than expecting those customers to conform to predefined expectations.

In their eagerness to embrace digital channels and cut costs associated with dealerships, OEMs risk not only damaging their established relationships with dealers, but also missing out on long-term value by becoming less customer focused rather than more and detracting from rather than enhancing the buying experience. A blended approach is key in the mid-term.  Continued focus on more model choices, range improvements, infrastructure and charging times, and cost still need to be on the forefront for making EV’s as the desired choice for consumers. 

Finding your place in the emerging value pools

Adapt existing skills and assets to exploit adjacencies to emerging products and services.

If customer centricity is about giving customers what they want rather than making assumptions, the MCI data indicates their preference is for an engaging and essentially physical experience that is enhanced by digital. The person-to-person interaction of a dealer visit is still highly valued and forms the heart of the purchase journey.

But to really unlock sustainable long-term value, dealers and OEMs also need to find their place in the emerging landscape of new value pools. Where are your adjacencies — the emerging customer-led products and services that are nearest to those you already provide? How can your existing skills and assets best be adapted to exploit them?

The EY Mobility Value Pools framework offers an understanding of the new revenue opportunities emerging in passenger mobility to help equip dealers and OEMs to make informed, long-term strategic decisions about their own place in the value pool ecosystem of the future. As they explore opportunities in the emerging value pools specifically within the sales and distribution of vehicles, it is imperative for them to make the following key considerations:

  • Customer data: While OEMs aim to gain greater control of customer data, they also need to identify the best way to leverage that data for better product, service and aftersales offerings while managing data confidentiality (this can be enabled by two-way data sharing between dealers and OEMs, and enhanced data analysis and insight). OEMs can also explore new ways to monetize the resulting closer relationships with customers.
  • Retail footprint: OEMs need to implement rightsizing initiatives in dealer network (e.g., store formats, terminations) while fostering deeper online engagement with customers. OEMs and dealers also need to revise their current operating model (back and front office) by integrating new technologies that enable leaner operations and an improved customer experience.
  • Pricing: As OEMs gain greater price control, they can look to adopt dynamic and customer-centric pricing strategies. These can include bundling prices with service offerings to drive customer loyalty and using artificial intelligence to provide predicted discounts and personalized prices.

So the sweet spot for dealers and OEMs lies at the point where customer insight meets digital and physical channels and where existing assets and skills meet emerging value pools. Find that sweet spot and you will earn not only the right to play in the auto retail market of the future, but also the right to win.

A special thank you to Jan Sieper, Partner Strategy & Transactions, Automotive Hub and Angsuman Sharma, EY Global Advanced Manufacturing & Mobility Analyst for his contributions to this article.

  • How mapping the evolving consumer mindset is key to EV mass market appeal.

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EV demand has reached a tipping point. Learn how mobility sector players can keep up with evolving consumer expectations.

For all buyers, the purchasing journey increasingly starts online. As the process progresses, consumer preference shifts to include dealer visits. OEMs and dealers have the challenge of becoming more customer centric by providing omnichannel buying experiences while enhancing long-term value for their businesses by accessing new and existing value pools.

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Will owning an electric vehicle save you money?

Electric car charging

With gas prices near record levels and no clear sign of how much higher they might go, a growing number of American motorists are looking for alternatives, including electric vehicles.

Nearly 1 in 5 shoppers who went to the research site Edmunds.com during the first week of March looked at hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs, an 18 percent increase over the previous week. Month over month, the increase was nearly 40 percent, according to the website. 

And they found a lot more vehicles to choose from, as a flood of new electric models, in a wide range of sizes, styles and prices, have come on the market. They include the Kia EV6, Ford F-150 Lightning and Mercedes-Benz EQS. And more models are on the way. More than 50 are expected to be available by the end of the year.

For many drivers, the decision to buy an EV will be driven in large part by the answer to one question: Will I save money? On energy, immediately. But “you have to consider the total ownership cost,” said Carla Bailo, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research. And that’s where things can get complicated.

Here are some of the biggest factors to consider: 

Purchase price. The sale price for an EV, on average, was $60,054 in February. That compared to $45,596 on average for all new vehicles, including electric ones, according to data from Edmonds. When compared to comparable gas models, EVs typically cost 10 to 15 percent more, although prices have been climbing steadily over the past couple of years and are expected to continue to rise. This week, for instance, Tesla announced it would raise prices on all its models. The Model 3, Tesla’s least expensive and most popular car, jumped $2,000 to $47,000. 

Bailo believes the price gap between EVs and conventional automobiles will narrow, as battery costs drop and lower-priced models, some below $30,000, become available. She predicts that by the middle of the decade, “we’ll have parity” between comparable models. 

Energy costs . Here’s where EVs have a clear and growing advantage. For example, the new Volkswagen ID.4 SUV, which starts at about $40,000, gets 250 miles per charge. With the average residential customer paying about 14 cents per kilowatt, it costs roughly $11 to fully charge the battery. Also, some customers qualify for discount charging rates. A comparable VW Tiguan SUV, which starts at about $26,000 and gets 26 mpg, would cost about $38 to fill up at $4 a gallon. If you drive 12,000 miles a year, you could expect to spend around $550 to power the ID.4, compared to $1,900 for the Tiguan.

Inside The 2021 Chicago Auto Show

Size. Energy efficiency varies widely; the bigger the vehicle, the more energy it will need. This is also true for gas models. So, while the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup will drain a battery faster than a compact Tesla Model 3 sedan, it will also save more per mile compared to a conventional Ford F-150, particularly during periods of high gas prices.

Home chargers. There are more home chargers coming to the market and prices are plunging. Expect to spend around $500 to $700 for the charger. But the larger cost may be wiring it up, depending on the age and construction of your home or apartment building and your current electric service. 

Public chargers : Expect to pay at least twice as much to use a high-speed charger at a gas station or charging station — if you can find one — compared to charging at home. The tab for that Volkswagen ID.4, for instance, would be around $20 to $25. At the moment, most public chargers are slow “Level 2” chargers, which can take an hour to add just 10 to 15 miles in range. However, the network of fast chargers is growing quickly, and some of the newest EVs vehicles can add 200 miles range in less than 20 minutes. 

Maintenance and repairs . EVs don’t require tune-ups, oil changes and some other types of routine maintenance. During the first year, an EV, on average, requires $254 in service and repairs versus $172 for a conventional model, according to data from We Predict, a research firm. That’s largely because any issues with EVs are likely to be discovered early on, whereas conventional vehicles tend to develop problems later. After three years, EV owners, on average,  spent $378 on service and repairs compared to $615 on average for gas models, according to We Predict.

Insurance. Rates vary by state and other factors, but EV owners typically pay a premium. One reason: EVs tend to cost more than their nonelectric counterparts. Some analysts also believe insurance companies are being cautious because they still have relatively little experience with electric autos or data on which to base their actuarial tables. 

Incentives . EV buyers stand to get as much as $7,500 in federal tax credits, depending on the type of vehicle they buy. Some automakers, notably Tesla and General Motors, have crossed a sales threshold that phased out the federal incentives on their products. Congress is considering a measure that would restore their credits and possibly boost incentives as high as $12,500, but chances of it passing are slim. 

More than a dozen states also offer incentives, including California, Delaware, Minnesota and Oregon. On the flip side, 28 states have enacted special registration fees as high as $225 for EVs. The fees are intended to help recoup the taxes most drivers pay when they fill up. 

So, to buy or not to buy, if savings is the goal? The more you drive, the more you will save on energy. And the higher gas prices go, the faster you’ll offset the additional, upfront costs of an EV. Also, government incentives can sometimes completely make up for the higher price tag.

All things considered, if you drive at least 12,000 miles a year, have a home charger and qualify for federal tax credits, experts say you have a good chance of being in the black within two or three years, compared to buying and operating a comparable gas vehicle.

Paul A. Eisenstein is an NBC News contributor who covers the auto industry.

The 4 most important things to consider before buying your first electric car, according to experts

  • More drivers than ever are thinking about buying an electric car. 
  • Experts say potential buyers should think about where they'll plug in and whether they qualify for any incentives. 
  • Aspiring EV owners should also examine their driving habits before taking the plunge. 

Insider Today

You've set your sights on the perfect electric car. Maybe it's a Tesla Model Y, or a Ford F-150 Lightning, or a Hyundai Ioniq 5 . You've heard that electric vehicles are quick, fun, and kind to the environment, and you're considering whether to ditch fossil fuels for good.

Join the club: Amid high gas prices and more battery-powered choices than ever, a record number of Americans are considering buying an electric car. In a recent Consumer Reports survey, 71% of Americans expressed some interest in going electric. 

But taking the plunge isn't such a simple decision. From where you'll charge to how much range you need, there are lots of things to consider when trading in your gas-guzzler for an EV, according to car-buying experts.

Charging at home is your best option

The first thing people should consider before going electric is where they'll plug in, experts told Insider. Although public charging stations are becoming more common, the most convenient approach is to charge at home, which allows owners to wake up each morning to a fully charged battery. 

"Yes, there is public charging . But when you're talking about the day-to-day use of this vehicle, you want to make it easy on yourself," Jennifer Newman, editor-in-chief at the online car marketplace Cars.com, said. 

Charging at home also is also cheaper, Benjamin Preston, an automotive reporter at Consumer Reports, said. 

This means EVs are best suited for drivers who have off-street parking with nearby access to electricity. Experts recommend installing Level 2 charging, which uses a higher-voltage connection to increase charging speeds. A Level 2 charger can fully charge an EV in roughly 4-12 hours .

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Using a regular, 110-volt household outlet (known as Level 1), that could take days. 

But installing home charging can be expensive

The cost and complexity to outfit a garage with Level 2 charging varies greatly. If you already have a 240-volt outlet — the same kind used for a dryer — it may be as simple as plugging in the right charging cord (which can be anywhere from free to several hundred dollars, depending on what's included with your vehicle and the charging speed you desire.)

Things get more complicated and expensive if you need to upgrade an older electrical panel or extend a connection to a garage. Cars.com installed high-powered Level 2 chargers in six homes and reported costs ranging from around $1,700 to over $9,000. Newman recommends enlisting a licensed electrician to get a handle on the expected costs. 

But not everyone needs Level 2 charging to make owning an EV worthwhile.

"Level 1 charging can get you 30-50 miles a day just charging overnight, which is well within the range of what typical Americans drive," Chris Harto, a policy analyst at Consumer Reports, said. 

Consider your driving habits

Having enough range to get around is one of potential EV buyers' biggest concerns. It even has name: range anxiety. 

Before a purchase, Newman recommends that shoppers examine how they typically use their cars, noting if they drive every day and how far they commute. After taking this inventory, buyers may be surprised to find that electric cars offer sufficient range for their needs, Newman, who owns an EV herself, said.

Today's mainstream electric cars offer anywhere from 150 to 350 miles of range . It's up to you to decide what's enough for your lifestyle, keeping in mind that charging on the go can be time consuming and inconsistent, particularly if you don't own a Tesla and can't benefit from the company's expansive charging network. 

You may also want to think about how often you take longer trips that would deplete your EV's battery and investigate the availability of charging plugs along the route, Harto said. If you have more than one vehicle, an electric car wouldn't need to work for every scenario and a used model could be a good choice , he added.

"A used Nissan Leaf with 80 miles of range might be a perfect car for your teenage kid to drive to school, drive to their friend's house, do all that. It could be a great second or third car in a family," Harto said. 

EVs aren't cheap, but tax credits can save you money

Tax credits and rebates for EV buyers offered by your locality, state, or the federal government can go a long way toward making plug-in vehicles more affordable . The Consumer Reports survey found that nearly half of Americans aren't aware of incentives for EV purchases. 

The best-known program is the federal government's $7,500 tax credit for EVs purchased from most automakers ( which may be revised soon ), but shoppers should do their homework and find out if they qualify for other incentives, experts said. Utility companies may offer credit toward installing a home charger or preferential electricity rates for charging, Harto said. 

Relatedly, studies show that EV owners spend less on fuel and repairs than people who drive gas-fueled vehicles. EVs have fewer moving parts than gas cars and often require less maintenance . Electricity, particularly when accessed at home, is generally cheaper than gasoline per mile of driving. 

Watch: How Volkswagen plans to outsell Tesla

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EV Is First Car To Complete 18,500-Mile Journey From North To South Pole

It took two people 10 months to drive the nissan ariya from the north to south pole.

The Ramseys standing up in their Nissan Ariya at the South Pole celebrating their triumph.

Chris and Julie Ramsey completed their 10-month road trip from the magnetic North Pole to the South Pole, making them the first people on Earth to drive a car, EV or ICE, over 18,500-miles from the top of our planet to the bottom of it.

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The couples’ Nissan Ariya was upfitted by polar mobility specialists at Arctic Trucks to accommodate the 39-inch tires , but aside from that was completely stock from the battery to the drivetrain and everything in between.

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The couple started their journey at the North Pole in March where they drove across the frozen Arctic Sea, and continued south through the North and South American continents before traversing the most remote continent on Earth, Antarctica.

The Ramseys kneeling beside their Nissan Ariya that just took them from the North Pole to the South Pole.

As a reminder, Chris and Julie Ramsey were the first people to ever complete the Mongol Rally in an EV , and they used a Nissan Leaf to cover that 10,000 kilometer course, so the Ramseys are no strangers to long road trips in Nissan EVs. They started planning this expedition six years ago in 2017.

The Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE AWD already has somewhat-low range estimates as standard between 205 and 272-miles depending on battery and wheel sizes, so with the 39-inch tires the Ramsey’s Ariya must have needed lots of charge breaks. According to Electrek ,

The original plan had been to use a trailer with a small windmill to charge the car while parked while in polar regions, but the trailer didn’t work out on Arctic roads. But for the Antarctic portion, the Ramseys have been using solar panels to help charge the car at “night” (which can be any time of day – the polar region is in constant sunlight at this time of year), in addition to using generators when the weather isn’t in their favor, highlighting the ability of EVs to be fueled by several different energy sources instead of just one. The trip through North America was relatively simple on big highways with plenty of chargers (and a quick stop to meet up with us, and the OC Tesla Club, in Long Beach), except that the Ariya was significantly less efficient after modifications. Between the huge off-road tires, fenders, and roof rack with rooftop tent, range was cut significantly. But these range losses are part of the message that the Ramseys want to send, anyway. If they can make it all the way from one end of the globe to the other with a 150-200 mile range (down from the 272-mile rating of the Ariya), this shows that most people don’t “need” the huge range they claim they need.

The couple touching the South Pole and looking back at their Ariya.

This incredible feat proves that EVs can be just as capable as ICE vehicles, as long as you have the proper planning and ingenuity. Despite the low range numbers of their custom Ariya, the Ramseys were able to make the long journey from the tippy top of the world to the desolate and uncharted bottom using a mostly-stock, $60,000-ish SUV.

Interested in buying an EV? Here’s where to start and what to look for

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity as infrastructure and incentives improve—but if you’ve never owned one before, it might be tough to know where to start

By Roadtrippers

At the end of November, downtown Los Angeles hosted its annual LA Auto Show. Founded in 1907, it’s grown into one of the biggest and most influential auto shows in the country. And this year, one particular message was broadcasted loud and clear: The future is here—and it’s electric. 

With sleek new EV offerings from the classics, including Porsche and Hyundai, as well as a whole slew of electric-only startups, saving the planet has never looked sexier. In this version of the future, even Barbie drives an EV .

But the reality of car shopping is often far removed from the glitz and glamour of auto shows. For those looking to purchase their first electric car, there’s a lot to take into consideration beyond what you see on the showroom floor.   

Here in Los Angeles, Teslas and Priuses are as ubiquitous as traffic jams and palm trees. This isn’t surprising since California is the state with the most EV charging stations in the U.S.— five times as many as New York, the second-ranking state. But if you live outside of these states or a major city, is buying an EV still a good choice? What features should you look for? And what can you afford?  

We caught up with Mark Takahashi, senior reviews editor at car-shopping website Edmunds , at the show to get his top EV buying tips. 

A full-size Barbie car featuring wing-shaped doors and colorful wheels

What is an EV?

Let’s start with the basics, since the terminology surrounding electric vehicles can be a bit confusing at first. There are hybrids (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), but for the purposes of this article, we are focusing on fully electric vehicles (EVs). These are battery-powered vehicles that lack a traditional engine and do not run on fossil fuels.   

EVs are known for being quiet, smooth, and fast—and for breeding innovation.

“With the batteries in the floor and these small electric motors, it allows them (EV automakers) to package the car much smarter,” Takahashi says. “So you don’t have a center hump, you have a lot more interior space, and it’s way quieter. And a lot of the EVs also have front trunks for added cargo, since there’s no engine there.”

While switching from a gas-powered car to an electric vehicle will require some adjusting of habits (no more stopping for gas!), most EV owners agree on the benefits: EVs cut your emissions, require less maintenance, and can help save you money.

Two EV charging stations inside a convention center

Does it make sense to buy an EV?

When it comes to broader EV adoption, the biggest hurdles are range and charging station availability. As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act , which was signed into law on November 15, $7.5 billion will be invested in building out a national EV charging network with a goal of 500,000 chargers nationwide. But while charging station access and availability are growing rapidly, there’s still some catching up to do.  

If you live in California, buying an electric vehicle is likely a good choice. But according to Takahashi, even those living in states with fewer charging stations can benefit from owning an EV. “If you’re in a rural area, and you’re not driving more than 200 or 300 miles in a day, the best thing to do is buy a charging station for your garage,” he says, pointing out that there are usually state or federal incentives for doing so.

While you can charge an EV at home using a standard 120-volt outlet, this is a slow process—a full charge can take up to 24 hours. Most EV owners will benefit from investing in a Level 2 charger, which can be installed by a qualified electrician. This will reduce charging times significantly, down to about 8 hours from an empty battery—perfect for charging overnight.

An at-home Level 2 charger typically costs between $400 and $800, and there are federal tax credits available to help offset both purchase and installation costs. ChargePoint, which offers one of the most popular at-home chargers on the market, has a helpful resource for finding additional incentives at the state level. 

Related: Can you take a road trip in an electric vehicle?

A white Porsche Taycan parked below giant letters that spell out "E-Performance"

What can you afford? 

As electric vehicles enter the mainstream, they’re becoming more affordable. But with a higher price tag than many internal-combustion vehicles, they can still appear prohibitively expensive to some. However, with lower maintenance costs and financial incentives, buying an EV is actually likely to save you money in the long run. 

“If you think about it as paying for operating costs up front, rather than paying for gas every week, it starts evening out and breaks even after a couple years, usually,” Takahashi says. “It all depends on the efficiency of the EV and how much you’re paying for electricity.” 

Keep in mind that with an electric vehicle, operating and maintenance costs are typically low. You won’t need to worry about oil changes, air filters, spark plugs, or drive belts. Even brake wear is lower than on non-EVs (though not nonexistent) thanks to regenerative braking. Of course, the biggest money-saver is at the pump, since you’ll be eliminating the need to pay for gas entirely.

To further offset the cost of an EV, the federal government is offering tax credits of up to $7,500 for “Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicles including passenger vehicles and light trucks” purchased after December 31, 2009. While some automakers, like Tesla and General Motors, have already used up their allotted credits, many others still offer the incentive. 

“Go to a dealer, or call a dealer, to find out what kind of incentives are available,” Takahashi says. “There are also municipal and state incentives that really help things out, especially in California.”

A green SUV with its doors open, and a spacious, all-white interior

What features do you need? 

Do you commute to work? Are you planning a cross-country road trip ? Do you own your home and/or have access to a garage with electricity where you live? Do you spend most of your driving hours on the freeway or around town? 

These are some of the questions you’ll need to answer before you start shopping for an EV, since they affect when, where, and how often you’ll need to recharge. Other factors affect range as well, including weather and driving style. But how many miles you can go on a single charge is only one part of the equation when it comes to finding the right EV for you.

“A lot of people get hung up on range, they get range anxiety,” Takahashi says. “If they don’t see 300 (miles per charge), then they feel like it’s going to leave them stranded, and that’s just not the case for most people.”

Beyond range, you likely have other specific needs. You might be looking to tow a trailer , go car camping, or fit a large family. If there’s one thing we learned at the LA Auto Show, it’s that the market for larger EVs, like SUVs and pickup trucks, is about to explode. So is the luxury segment, where automakers such as Lucid are launching high-end, high-horsepower electric vehicles, often with wince-inducing price tags. And for outdoor enthusiasts, Rivian is pioneering electric overlanding with add-on features such as slide-out camp kitchens and custom rooftop tents. 

The bottom line: Most EVs come with similar features, but it’s worth narrowing it down to your specific needs. Edmunds’ list of the Best Electric Cars of 2021 and 2022 is a good starting point, with vehicles rated in multiple categories based on performance, comfort, technology, value, and more.

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Before buying an EV, consider these hidden costs of ownership

Quick facts about hidden costs of electric car ownership

  • The average purchase price of electric cars is more than gasoline-fueled cars, but the gap is closing.
  • Frigid weather  reduces an electric car’s range while increasing charging times.
  • As electric vehicle batteries age, their capacity to charge diminishes.
  • Electric car battery warranties last at least 10 years. EV batteries may last as long as 20 years.

If you’re considering a new car, you’ve probably found all the hype about electric vehicles difficult to ignore. Today, we aren’t addressing the pros and cons of buying and owning an EV compared with an internal combustion engine (ICE) gasoline-fueled vehicle. We’re here to dive more deeply into the many factors contributing to the costs of electric car daily ownership. We’ll examine operational costs, providing a more informed path to estimating the actual cost of electric car ownership.

Growth trajectory of electric cars

Kelley Blue Book parent Cox Automotive forecasts in a  new report  that 1 million new electric vehicles will be sold in the U.S. in 2023. That’s more than twice the volume sold in 2021.

The industry’s sales growth comes from Tesla’s rapid expansion and the constant launch of new electric cars into the market. Carmakers launched 33 new models this year, and more than 50 additional new or updated EVs will be launched in 2024.

What are the hidden costs of EV ownership?

We define hidden costs of electric vehicle ownership as costs you need to budget for monthly or annually when you own an EV.

In discussing any hidden costs associated with electric car ownership, we are primarily concerned with the ownership costs directly related to an EV’s electrified propulsion system. In other words, we address EV ownership costs not shouldered by ICE vehicle owners. Therefore, these are not so much hidden costs as they are costs of moving from ICE vehicles to EVs and those you might not realize or consider when calculating the cost of ownership. Expense surprises are the enemy of a monthly household budget. We aim to expose as many EV cost surprises as possible to help you create and follow a realistic budget.

PRO TIP:  I’ve spent countless hours researching and studying EVs. Also, I clocked time behind the wheel of several electric vehicles. Here is one truth I’ve uncovered: The longer you keep an electric car, the better it compares to the ownership costs of a gasoline-fueled vehicle, at least on the surface. Not only does the transaction cost difference mean less as it’s spread over more time, but other electric vehicle cost advantages, like lower maintenance and energy costs, continue to pile up in the positive column for electric car ownership. However, the one significant disadvantage of EVs that is tough to overcome is the unexpected cost of accelerated depreciation. Read on.

The list of hidden costs

Purchase costs: electric vs. gas

Before digging into what may be some unknown expenses for new EV owners, we need to note the ICE transaction-price advantage briefly. On average, new electric vehicles cost more than those with internal combustion engines. According to data from Cox Automotive, the average cost of a new ICE vehicle was $48,528 in May 2023 compared with $55,488 for the average electric vehicle. That’s before factoring in any electric car government rebates or incentives. If you and the EV qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit, it could make up the cost difference. Moreover, electric car prices have tumbled steadily over the last few months — down more than $10,000 on average in the past year.

However, transaction prices aren’t the entire story. Many factors contribute to ownership costs of EVs versus ICE vehicles.

See: The cars, trucks and SUVs with the best resale value

We randomly selected two anecdotal 2023 examples: Hyundai Kona vs. Hyundai Kona Electric and Volvo XC40 vs. XC40 Recharge. Comparing the prices of the entry-level trims of both vehicles, the Kona Electric costs $11,410 more than the Kona, while the XC40 Recharge costs $17,000 more than the gasoline-fueled XC40.

Although the EV and ICE vehicle share the same trim level name for both brands, EVs typically come with more features than ICE vehicles. Consequently, it isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. To compensate for that, let’s drop both disparities by 25% to $8,558 for Kona and $12,750 for the XC40. This is our estimate of the average transaction price difference if the EV and ICE vehicles provide the same features.

Still, the bottom line is, EV transaction prices are higher than those of ICE vehicles. Consequently, you must either put more money down upfront or finance a bigger balance with higher monthly payments for the average EV over the average ICE vehicle.

Check out: Four valuable lessons I learned taking a road trip in an electric car

Charging infrastructure

If you do the research, you can probably still find some free Level 2 charging stations in government-owned parking lots and garages near you. For example, 42 free stations are in Greenville, South Carolina, area. However, you may find yourself seeking out a commercial charging station that charges by minute or kilowatt-hour (kWh). Their prices can vary wildly from station to station. Often these stations offer DC fast chargers, which can quickly replenish a battery’s charge up to 80%, but at a higher cost.

Moreover, repeated rapid charging can also damage a battery, shortening its life. (More about that below.) Currently, commercial charging stations may be in short supply depending on where you live, requiring you to not only spend the time needed to charge up your EV’s battery but also locate and drive to a remote charging station. If you’re lucky, your employer provides a few free chargers for its staff.

Home charging

Using the Level 1 charging system included with most EVs is adequate for replenishing the electricity in the battery of typical plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) because of their smaller capacity batteries. However, Level 1 charging is impractical for electric cars, which may require up to 36 hours to get the larger EV battery up to 80% plus charge. Recognizing that most EV owners charge their vehicles at home and that home charging is cheaper than commercial charging, you will quickly see the wisdom in buying a Level 2 home charger.

Learn more: What is EV, BEV, HEV, PHEV? Here’s your guide to types of electric cars

However, owning a Level 2 charger can carry a hefty price tag. Checking Amazon we found the spread to be from about $200 for a portable Level 2 charger to $1,000 for a permanent one. For instance, if you opt for a permanent system in your garage, you should have a professional install it. According to bobvila.com, you can spend anywhere from $400 to $3,400 on installation. The big price spread is because you need a power source of 240V (like your clothes dryer uses). The installer may need to run such a line to the appropriate location for the charge. Check for installation incentives from your state and utility company. Often, there will be some incentives to lower the cost.

PRO TIP:  Before laying out the money for a Level 2 charger, ask a professional to evaluate your electrical system to determine if the 240V source is available and the costs associated with running it where you need it. Whether you pick the portable or install a Level 2 charger, you need a 240V power source.

Electricity costs

Just like the price-per-gallon costs of gas, electricity rates fluctuate. According to a March 2023 article in Forbes, electricity costs surged across the U.S. In some areas (Northeast), the prices jumped as much as 57% from January 2021 to January 2023. Forbes predicts this trend will continue. You can adopt some behavior to mitigate rising costs, like determining what time or times of day electricity costs the least in your area. Typically, it’s in the early morning. Charging then might save a few bucks.

You’ll need to employ a bit of math to calculate what it costs to charge your EV. Begin by locating your latest electric bill. You need to find the total kWh hours used and divide that number into the bottom-line total of that bill. This will give you the cost of a kWh of power.

For example, the average cost for U.S. households is 16 cents per kWh. You also need to determine how many miles, on average, you drive each month. For example, the national average per month in 2021 was 1,124 miles. Most experts agree that an electric car gets three to 4 miles of range from one kWh. We advise being conservative, using 3 miles per kWh as you create your budget. Divide your monthly mileage by three to determine the number of kWh your EV requires each month. Multiply that number by the price you pay for each kWh. The result is an approximate monthly cost for charging your EV. For example, 1,124 ÷ 3 miles of range per kWh = 375 kWh x 16 cents = $60 for the price per month to charge your electric car.

For our comparison vehicles, the government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the annual cost of charging the Kona Electric at $600, while fueling the Kona costs $1,700. Charging the XC40 Recharge for a year will set you back $850. Fueling the XC40 for a year: $2,450.

See : 10 electric SUVs that seat 7

Battery degradation and replacement

We often hear the expense of replacing an EV battery as a key reason for not considering an electric car. That fear is not without merit.

Replacement costs remain historically high. For example, J.D. Power reported that the average cost of replacing the battery in a  Tesla Model S ,  Model X , or  Model three  could cost at least $13,000. You can buy a 2023 Model three for about $40,240. In other words, the battery is about 30% of the total cost of the Model 3. This is not an exception. The reality is that the battery is a significant contributing factor to the price of an electric vehicle.

However, there is some good news. According to Recurrent, a company that tracks such things, most battery replacement occurs under warranty. The federal government mandates that electric vehicle battery warranties cover at least eight years or 100,000 miles. Some carmakers’ warranties cover longer periods. California requires carmaker battery warranties of 10 years or 150,000 miles. However, all warranties aren’t created equal. Some will only replace a completely failed battery, while others will replace batteries that have lost a certain percentage of their charging capacity. Furthermore, many experts say an electric car battery may last up to 20 years. GeoTab, a Toronto-based company that tracks battery health for fleets, finds that most EV batteries degrade around 2.3% per year.

PRO TIP:  Read the small print in the EV battery warranty to ensure it specifies a percentage capacity reduction as cause for complete replacement during the warranty coverage period. For example, Cadillac’s EV battery warranty specifies it will replace the EV battery if it falls below 75% of its original capacity.

Degradation : As a battery ages, it will lose some of its charging capacity. Rather than charging to 100%, it will only hold up to a 90% or 80% charge. This means more time spent recharging and less range, which is an extra cost in both money and time.  Temperature can also influence a battery’s capability  to charge fully, and both hot and cold temperatures reduce an electric car’s range. AAA tested several EVs and found that 20-degree and 95-degree Fahrenheit temperatures reduced the range when compared with 75 degrees. In every case, cold temperatures can significantly impact charging times. The colder the battery, the longer the charging time.

Another foe of healthy batteries is DC fast chargers. Forcing electricity into a battery at an elevated volume takes a toll on the battery’s capacity. Repeated charging at a fast charger will reduce the battery’s ability to charge fully. Moreover, repeatedly filling a battery to 100% capacity will also hasten the loss of charging capacity, and carmakers recommend charging to 80% at fast chargers.

Don’t miss: The 2024 Honda Prologue: Honda’s new electric SUV is attractive and spacious. When can you get one?

Maintenance and repairs

There isn’t much to maintain in an electric car. So, this category isn’t a major concern about the hidden costs because this is an area where EV owners often save some serious cash. There are no hoses to replace, oil, or transmission fluid to change or top off. There’s no timing chain, and so forth. You get the picture. Unless they involve the electric vehicle battery system, repairs are about the same as a gasoline-only vehicle. The Hyundai Kona and Volvo XC40 provide excellent comparison vehicles for long-term maintenance and repair costs. According to Cox Automotive research, the average cost of repairs for both the ICE and EV Kona versions are the same over the first five years of ownership. On the other hand, scheduled maintenance costs are notably higher for the ICE version than the EV version of both vehicles. Here’s how the maintenance and repair costs shake out.

5-year cost-to-own repairs:

  • 2023 Hyundai Kona Electric: $3,670
  • 2023 Hyundai Kona: $3,670

5-year cost-to-own maintenance:

  • 2023 Hyundai Kona Electric: $2,775
  • 2023 Hyundai Kona: $6,054

Clearly, the Kona Electric has an advantage over the ICE version. Over five years, the maintenance cost difference totals $3,279. However, every new Hyundai provides complimentary scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles. For the average Kona owner, that means no maintenance costs for the first three years, reducing that $3,279 advantage to $2,353. Still, nothing to sneeze at, right?

For the Volvo XC40, the XC40 Recharge brings a higher cost of ownership in these categories. However, the disparity is so small as to be insignificant.

  • 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge: $1,727
  • 2023 Volvo XC40: $1,722
  • 2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge: $2,364
  • 2023 Volvo XC40: $2,047

Insurance premiums

No matter if your car is an electric car or a gasoline-fueled vehicle, insurance premiums continue spiraling upward. This isn’t good news, particularly for electric vehicle owners, because EV insurance tends to cost more anyway. Why? For one, on average, electric cars cost more than gasoline-fueled vehicles. We covered that earlier. In addition, although EVs don’t have as many components and parts as ICE vehicles, the ones they have are often more expensive to replace. For example, repairing or replacing a battery pack is hugely expensive. Furthermore, there aren’t nearly as many technicians qualified to repair electric vehicles as there are for ICE vehicles. As electric cars become a larger percentage of the automobile population, some of these costs will go down, but not anytime soon.

PRO TIP:  I advise that you never buy or lease a vehicle without determining its impact on your insurance premiums beforehand. You don’t want an unexpected jump in your car insurance premium to be one of those budget-busting surprises. Moreover, if you haven’t shopped your auto insurance around in a while, there is no better time than when buying a new car.

Residual value

Residual value is just another measurement of depreciation. That is, value lost yearly or over a specified number of years. If a vehicle depreciates 30% over two years, its residual value is 70% at the end of those two years. To date, ICE vehicles have an advantage over EVs when evaluating depreciation. The depreciation tracking tools of Cox Automotive bear this out.

In some cases, the differences aren’t significant. However, in others, they’re huge. We believe if the gulf between the average EV price and the average ICE vehicle price continues to close, the residual value gap will also tighten. In the meantime, however, the odds are, EVs will continue to bleed value at a brisker rate than ICE vehicles. In the case of our comparison models, a much faster rate.

Further examination of our Kona vs. Kona Electric comparison shows that the Kona Electric depreciates $28,210 over five years, while the gasoline-fueled Kona depreciates $12,980. Yes, that is a difference of $15,230. That’s a huge hidden expense.

Likewise, the XC40 loses $21,939 in value over five years, while the XC40 Recharge depreciates $30,955 over the same period. That’s a depreciation advantage for the ICE XC40 of $9,016.

Experts often cite the $7,500 tax credit offered for a new EV as a compelling reason to purchase an EV. However, used EVs don’t always share the benefit of that tax break. Consequently, used EVs aren’t nearly as attractive to EV shoppers as new ones are. However, we must point out that at this moment, neither the Kona Electric nor the Volvo XC40 Recharge qualifies for the $7,500 tax credit because both are built outside the United States.

Read: five reasons you should hold off on buying an EV

Electric car range shortfall

Here’s a spoiler alert: The odds are you will never achieve an EV’s promised range estimations. For those who don’t remember, this was once a chronic issue with ICE fuel-economy estimates. Many buyers of new ICE vehicles complained of not getting the promised estimated mileage. Addressing that issue, the government tweaked its mileage-testing procedures, rendering those miles-per-gallon city-and-highway estimates much closer to real-world experiences.

Although, as an electric car owner, you may feel bamboozled by what seems to be inflated range estimations, there’s a key reason your real-world experience might be disappointing. Carmakers and the government base those estimations on the absolute best driving conditions. For example, hilly terrain, extreme temperatures, using air conditioning, aggressive acceleration, and so forth diminish range. In other words, any deviation from moderate driving behavior or ideal conditions reduces range. Towing or loading extra passengers or cargo will also drag on the range.

How are unmet range expectations a hidden cost? If you expect your EV to deliver 250 miles of range per charge and you are only experiencing 210 miles, you must recharge more often. Using the kWh formula, making up that 40-mile range shortfall will cost you, on average, 40 ÷ three x 16 cents per kWh = $2.10. That’s not a major difference, but it mounts up over time.

Also see : Your complete guide to MPGe, the electric equivalent of miles per gallon

Electric car state fees

Most states assess a tax on every gallon of gasoline pumped. In other words, you pay a per-gallon gasoline tax based on the fuel you consume. EVs don’t pay this tax because they don’t use gasoline for fuel.

Consequently, many states charge EV owners an extra annual fee to help offset the lost gas-tax revenue. These include states like California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and several others. The added fees can be as much as $150 per year. Check your state’s fees to know the true cost of electric car inspection fees.

When considering the cost of ownership over five years, the bigger advantages of new electric cars are that $7,500 federal tax credit. In addition, consider that your state or utility might offer additional credits if you qualify, the lower cost of electricity versus gasoline, and, more often than not, lower maintenance costs. The greatest disadvantages are higher rates of depreciation and higher transaction prices. Taking the $7,500 out of the equation, it’s no contest: The savings in fuel and maintenance costs of EVs simply can’t overcome the higher transaction and hidden depreciation costs. Although closing the 5-year cost-to-own gap considerably, even when an EV does qualify for the $7,500 tax break, the EV is still at a disadvantage thanks to the added weight of the hidden costs of ownership.

This story originally ran on  KBB.com.  

Before buying an EV, consider these hidden costs of ownership

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Nearly half of American EV owners want to switch back to gas-powered vehicle, McKinsey data shows

Major share of us ev owners have buyer's remorse.

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, discusses how lawmakers are concerned that China is benefiting from EVs on 'The Evening Edit.'

We don’t have electricity or energy to run EVs: Miller-Meeks

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, discusses how lawmakers are concerned that China is benefiting from EVs on 'The Evening Edit.'

A significant share of Americans who own an electric vehicle have buyer's remorse, according to new data.

McKinsey & Co.'s Mobility Consumer Pulse for 2024, released this month, found that 46% of EV owners in the U.S. said they were "very" likely to switch back to owning a gas-powered vehicle in their next purchase.

woman unplugging EV with skeptical look on her face

Nearly half of EV owners in the U.S. want to switch back to owning a gas-powered vehicle, according to a new McKinsey survey. (iStock)

The high percentage of Americans who want to make a switch even surprised the consulting firm.

"I didn't expect that," the head of McKinsey's Center for Future Mobility, Philipp Kampshoff, told Automotive News . "I thought, 'Once an EV buyer, always an EV buyer.'"


In the poll of nearly 37,000 consumers worldwide, Australia was the only country with a greater percentage, 49%, of EV owners than the U.S. who said they were ready to return to owning an internal combustion engine.

The other countries included in the survey were Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Norway. Across all countries surveyed, the average share of respondents who want to ditch their EVs was 29%.

woman waiting for EV to charge

Nearly a quarter of EV owners in the global study who said they want to switch back to owning a gas-powered car cited the inability to charge their vehicle at home. (iStock)

The biggest reason EV owners cited for wanting to return to owning a gas-powered vehicle was the lack of available charging infrastructure (35%); the second-highest reason cited was that the total cost of owning an EV was too high (34%). Nearly 1 in 3, 32%, said their driving patterns on long-distance trips were affected too much due to having an EV.


McKinsey found that consumers' satisfaction globally with charging availability has improved some since last year's survey but noted it "still has a long way to go."

Of the EV owners across all countries, 11% said the infrastructure where they live is well set up in terms of charge points, 40% said there were not enough chargers along highways and main roads, and 38% said there were not enough chargers in close proximity to them.

EV charging station

Of the EV owners worldwide who want to switch back to a gas-powered vehicle, the No. 1 reason cited was a lack of charging infrastructure. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

The findings come years into the Biden administration's push for U.S. consumers and automakers to embrace EVs and reinforce other recent polling that indicates a major chunk of Americans are still not sold on going all-electric.


To further Biden's EV agenda, Democrats passed infrastructure legislation in 2021 that committed billions of taxpayer dollars to building a half million charging stations in the U.S. by the end of the decade.

But three years later, only seven federally funded chargers have been built to date, and the slow progress has sparked condemnation from both sides of the political aisle .

ev car buying journey

If your next car isn't an EV, then at least it should be a hybrid — here's why

They have some of the best values around

2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited.

I’m long overdue for a new car, but car shoppers have more to consider now than ever before when looking for their next ride. I’ll admit that I’ve been spoiled the last couple of months test driving some of the best electric cars around, like the futuristic looking Kia EV9 and its 3-row seating, but one thing’s clear about most of them: they’re just so expensive.

A recent poll drives this point home, saying that U.S. car buyers are reluctant to buy EVs because of the price disparity between them and gas-powered vehicles — and this is despite the average price of EVs continuing to decline. That’s why I think an alternative worth looking at are hybrids. Anything is better than all-gas powered cars at this point. Unless there’s an immense need for them, like for your job, you should look at hybrids at the very least at this point.

After test driving an Elantra Hybrid for a week , I’m really astounded by how far hybrid cars have come since they were first introduced in the early 2000s. Not only have they become more powerful and efficient since then, but they share a lot of the same tech and conveniences I’ve seen in pricier, more luxurious EVs I’ve driven.

You’ll have a lower upfront cost

2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited.

Pricing continues to be a roadblock for many consumers thinking about buying an EV. For example, Kelly Blue Book reports that the average price for electric cars in April 2024 was $55,242 — while it’s $44,989 for gas-powered ones. While I’ve explained that EVs present greater long term savings by charging them at home during off-peak electric hours, car shoppers still need to come up with the budget to shell out for an electric vehicle in the first place.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , $48,060 was the median annual wage for all U.S. workers in 2023. Depending on who you talk to, it’s recommended that you should budget between 10% to 15% of your monthly income for a car payment. This calculates to an income of  $4,000 per month, which would yield a budget of $400.50 to $600.75 each month for a car payment. 

I don’t know any finance options or car loans that would support a 12-year payment plan, but that’s basically how long it would take to pay off an average electric vehicle. I can’t even imagine the interest rate on that type of loan either. And while some EVs qualify for tax rebates that take more off their cost, they still cost more than hybrid models.

Hybrid vehicles thankfully don’t cost that much, which for those who don’t have the disposable income to buy an EV outright, would be much more reasonable to their budget. The Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited has a starting cost of $29,450, while a Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE costs less at $23,500. If you're looking for something bigger, hybrid SUVs like the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid and Kia Sportage Hybrid start at $31,725 and $28,590 respectively.

Greater range

Another major concern for some about EVs is that they don’t have the range for long distance traveling. Many EVs today can get easily over 300 miles with a full charge and they’re becoming more efficient with each new generation. For example, the Hyundai Ioniq 6 and Lucid Air Pure I test drove top out at 305 and 419 miles respectively. The Lucid’s one of the few exceptions that exceed the 400-mile range, but I suspect it’s only going to get better.

But despite these numbers, you’ll still go a lot further with today’s hybrid vehicles. I was able to reach a fuel economy of 50.8 mpg with the Elantra Hybrid Limited, which would calculate to about a range of 558 miles with its 11-gallon fuel tank. Meaning, you’ll be able to travel farther distances non-stop with a hybrid — which is helpful when traveling through rural places across the country.

Fewer pit stops with long distance traveling

Hyundai Ioniq 6 SE RWD (2024).

As a result, the greater range of hybrid vehicles over EVs means you won’t have to make as many pit stops. If you’re concerned about getting to your destination in the shortest time possible, this is an incentive you might appreciate with hybrid cars. Just think: you can drive straight for 500 miles without stopping.

Meanwhile, most EVs would need a recharge as they approach 300 miles (or before that just in case). In my experience so far, it takes about 30 minutes to get a reasonable charge back into an EV before driving off again. But the other challenge about EVs is that sometimes you might have to wait at a charging station before one becomes available for you to use. All of this adds up to longer wait times, which could be a dealbreaker for some folks.

Don’t count out EVs just yet

Kia EV9.

While I’ve detailed the advantages that hybrids have over EVs, it’s only a matter of time before EVs outperform hybrid cars. I mentioned how price was the biggest roadblock, but the prices on EVs have been declining. In fact, I’m hopeful that by the time I’m ready to hand in the keys of my 15+ year old Corolla, the Kia EV3 will be available stateside.

Why that one? Well, not only does it share many of the same qualities that made me fall in love with the $74,000 priced EV9 I drove, but it’s going to be much more affordable. It’s speculated that the Kia EV3, a compact-size SUV, will turn out to be $35,000 — which has an estimated range of 300 miles. Sure, the range could be better, but I suspect that the next generation of EVs will deliver longer range and faster charging

More from Tom's Guide

  • Sorry, EVs — I test drove my first PHEV and it’s the perfect blend of electric and gas power
  • Thinking of buying an EV? Here’s the one question you need to answer first
  • The 8 cheapest electric cars you can buy right now

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Cox automotive’s car buyer journey study shows growing frustration with car buying process.

Wednesday January 18, 2023

Article Highlights

  • After peaking in 2020, satisfaction with vehicle buying drops for the second straight year in 2022.
  • High prices, tight inventory take a toll on the car-buying journey.
  • Shoppers, buyers, and dealers agree that smart digital solutions make the process more efficient and improve overall satisfaction.

ATLANTA, Jan. 18, 2023 – New research released today by Cox Automotive shows that satisfaction with the car buying process declined in 2022 for the second straight year. The 2022 Car Buyer Journey Study reveals vehicle buyers were frustrated with high prices, limited availability, and the amount of time required to complete the process. Used-vehicle buyers, who are often more price sensitive and face higher interest rates, were particularly unsatisfied with the experience in 2022, the research indicates.  

Since 2009, Cox Automotive’s annual Car Buyer Journey Study has offered a comprehensive look at the overall vehicle buying process in the United States, with an eye toward consumer satisfaction. The study provides a holistic view – the journey through researching, shopping and the many purchase steps required to complete the deal – for both new- and used-vehicle buyers, and also includes research among dealership staff and management.

“With the annual NADA convention opening in Dallas later this month and bringing together auto dealers from across the country, we think it is more important than ever to showcase the current state of vehicle buying in America,” said Isabelle Helms, vice president of Research and Market Intelligence at Cox Automotive. “While buying a vehicle is a complicated transaction, with financing required, trade-in valuations to consider and plenty of research required, it does not have to be frustrating for the consumer. With the right digital tools and systems in place, car buying can be a highly satisfying activity, and as efficient and streamlined as consumers want it to be.”

The 2022 Car Buyer Journey Study was created from surveying more than 10,000 consumers who were in the market for a vehicle in 2022 – 4,150 vehicle shoppers and 6,118 vehicle buyers. As part of the process, dealers were also surveyed. Most of the research was conducted during the second half of 2022.  

Key Takeaways from the 2022 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study

1. overall satisfaction with the car buying journey declined in 2022. .

According to Cox Automotive research, 61% of vehicle buyers in 2022 were highly satisfied with the process, down from 66% the year earlier and well below the peak of 72% in 2020. Results in 2022 were generally in line with pre-pandemic levels. Satisfaction for new-vehicle buyers declined only modestly to 70%, down from 71% in 2021, while satisfaction among used-vehicle buyers fell significantly. In 2021, 65% of used-vehicle buyers noted they were highly satisfied with the process. In 2022, the percentage dropped to 58%.  

Three elements impacted overall car buying satisfaction: time spent, limited inventory and high prices. 

  • Time spent : The time spent in the vehicle buying process jumped significantly in 2022, with the typical vehicle buyer reporting the process took 14 hours and 39 minutes, up from 12 hours and 27 minutes in 2021, an increase of 18%. Time spent online shopping and researching vehicles increased by more than 1 hour compared to 2021, while time at the dealership increased by approximately 20 minutes.   Vehicle shoppers visited more websites during the process, an average of 4.9 sites, up from 4.0 in 2021. All four website categories – automaker, dealer, third-party, and used vehicle online retailers – saw an increase in shoppers using their sites. Third-party sites played the largest role, with 79% of buyers visiting sites such as Kelley Blue Book or Autotrader, both Cox Automotive sites, during the process, followed by dealership sites (59%), used vehicle online retailers such as Carvana and Vroom (34%), and automaker websites (33%). Interestingly, 13% of buyers used a lender website when shopping for their most recent vehicle purchase, an 86% increase from 2021. 
  • Limited inventory : In 2022, the shopping experience became less about finding the PERFECT vehicle and more about finding ANY vehicle. More than half of the vehicle buyers in 2022 who reported limited inventory said that was a key driver of the increased time spent researching and shopping online. Also, buyers showed less loyalty to dealerships and vehicle brands last year, especially new-vehicle buyers. In 2022, 37% of new-vehicle buyers purchased a brand they had never owned before, up from 31% in 2021. A record share of shoppers also considered BOTH new and used vehicles last year: 64%, which is up significantly from 55% in 2021.  
  • High prices : Record high prices were commonplace in 2022, and buyers were negatively impacted. In 2022, 54% of buyers found prices to be higher than expected, compared to only 31% in 2021. And 63% of these buyers paid more than they intended for a vehicle, compared to 48% the previous year. For all buyers, satisfaction with the price paid declined as well, to 48%, down from 63% in 2021.  

2. Vehicle ordering increased significantly in 2022, and buyers who pre-ordered were generally more satisfied with the overall experience.

Due mostly to new-vehicle inventory shortages, vehicle buyers were far more likely to have pre-ordered last year. Nearly 1 in 5 new vehicle sales last year was a pre-ordered vehicle, an 89% increase year over year. More dealers offered this solution, and 74% of consumers who pre-ordered indicated they chose that route to get the key features they wanted and exclude those they didn’t.  

Further, most consumers (79%) who ordered vehicles were generally more satisfied with the experience, compared to a previous experience of buying off the lot. They also indicated they would likely pre-order again when returning to the market. Among buyers who pre-ordered vehicles, overall satisfaction was higher among those who ordered directly from the automaker, as opposed to ordering through a dealership. The research indicates that those who ordered from the automaker had shorter waiting periods, with better vehicle tracking and overall engagement through the process.  

3. More buyers selected F&I products with their purchases in 2022 and leaned into lenders they trust. 

Last year, 67% of vehicle buyers indicated they purchased an F&I product, up from 59% in 2021. More products were purchased as well, an average of 1.6, an increase from 1.3 products the year earlier. Shoppers continue to choose products such as extended warranties, GAP insurance to help protect auto loans, and wheel & tire protection plans.

With auto loan rates rising in 2022, the top reason for selecting a lender was predictably tied to the loan rate offered. Notably, though, was a growing importance of ‘trust in the lender’ and general familiarity with the lender. This was particularly true among Gen Z buyers and ‘Mostly Digital’ buyers. In fact, in 2022, trust in the lender was more important than an easy loan application process.

When it comes to securing financing, many buyers indicate they desire more online activity. However, while 55% of buyers checked their credit scores online, only 36% calculated monthly payments online; 30% applied for credit online, and fewer still, only 12%, signed paperwork online last year. This is seen by the Cox Automotive analysts as an opportunity for dealers and consumers, as more online F&I activity improves satisfaction and streamlines the experience.

4. EV buyers see digital retailing and eCommerce as a way to save time, while buyers choosing traditional powertrains feel it is the avenue to achieve the best deal and reduce buying pressure.

For EV buyers, online is the preferred route. The latest research indicates that 87% of EV buyers are open to the idea of buying fully online – a true eCommerce solution – while only 73% of buyers of new, traditional, internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are open to fully eCommerce solutions. Looking forward, 80% of EV buyers indicate their next purchase will be a mostly online process, compared to 61% of new ICE buyers. New ICE buyers see eCommerce solutions as an avenue to reduce buying pressure and achieve the best deal while spending less time at the dealership. EV buyers, who on average are younger and more tech-savvy, feel digital solutions can save time and make the process easier and more convenient. 

5. Shoppers, buyers and dealers agree: Digital solutions make the car buying journey better. 

Nearly all auto dealers – 87% – indicate that digital retailing solutions have positively impacted at least one area of their business, reducing time spent, improving efficiency, and also benefitting sales, profits, and relationships with customers.

Importantly, 81% of shoppers in 2022 noted that online activities improve the overall buying experience. Transacting online saves time, according to buyers, and 78% of buyers believe an eCommerce approach provides greater transparency around pricing, and 86% say it allows them to interact with fewer dealership sales personnel.

‘Mostly Digital’ buyers – those who complete more than 50% of the purchase process steps online – were the most satisfied among all buyers. The research indicates that 67% of Mostly Digital buyers were satisfied with the buying experience compared to 49% of Light Digital buyers, who perform less than 20% of the steps online. Mostly Digital buyers are also more likely than Light Digital buyers to feel the dealership gave them a good deal. They were also more satisfied with the amount of time spent during the buying process and at the dealership. 

In the year ahead, Cox Automotive forecasts that half of all vehicle buyers will engage with at least one digital tool during the purchase process.

For more information about the 2022 Car Buyer Journey Study and to learn more about how Cox Automotive is working transform the way consumers and dealers interact during the retail process – including the launch of Retail360, an industry-first solution that will help make retail transactions faster, more personalized, more accurate and more efficient for everyone involved – visit the Cox Automotive Newsroom or contact a member of the Cox Automotive PR team.

About Cox Automotive Cox Automotive is the world’s largest automotive services and technology provider. Fueled by the largest breadth of first-party data fed by 2.3 billion online interactions a year, Cox Automotive tailors leading solutions for car shoppers, automakers, dealers, retailers, lenders and fleet owners. The company has 25,000+ employees on five continents and a family of trusted brands that includes Autotrader®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital™ and vAuto®. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately-owned, Atlanta-based company with $21 billion in revenue. Visit coxautoinc.com or connect via  @CoxAutomotive  on Twitter,  CoxAutoInc on Facebook or  Cox-Automotive-Inc  on LinkedIn. 

Media contacts:

Lisa Aloisio                                                                                                                Retail Solutions 404 725 0651 [email protected]

Dara Hailes Cox Automotive 470 658 0656    [email protected]

Mark Schirmer Cox Automotive 734 883 6346 [email protected]

Sign up here to receive bi-weekly updates on news and trends dominating the automotive industry.

@coxautomotive, related content.

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