Buying a new vehicle is always exciting, especially when it comes to a new electric car. We all love not having to stop and fill up on expensive gas. However, you can’t just buy an EV and be done with it, as there are other things and expenses you’ll want to consider.
Well, you can buy an electric vehicle and nothing else, but you probably shouldn’t. Both gasoline and electric cars have additional expenses, not to mention maintenance. And while electric vehicles require less maintenance, other factors include paying to install a charger at home, dealing with software updates, finding a new routine with charging stations, and even paying more for insurance.
Do not misunderstand. I’m not attacking electric cars here. Instead, think of this as a guide that goes over a few things new electric car owners will want to think about after bringing home that shiny new ride.
Get a fast charger level 2 installed at home
Perhaps the biggest misconception about electric vehicles is that you can quickly and easily charge them from your garage. And while that’s true, it’s a bit tricky.
While almost all electric vehicles in the US come with a standard charging cable provided by the manufacturer, they are almost completely useless. That’s because it’s a slow 110/120 volt level 1 AC wall plug you’ll find in any home. These chargers only offer around 5 miles of range per hour; Simply put, that’s not fast enough.
For example, if that slow level 1 wall outlet gives you 5 miles per hour, after 8 to 9 hours of overnight charging, you’ll only get about 40 miles of range. Unfortunately, that may not be enough to get you to work and back. It’s not ideal.
To get the most out of your electric car, you’ll want to install a Level 2 charger in your home, which could cost anywhere from $400 to more than $2,000. And that’s just for the charger itself. Having a professional install it will cost even more.
To make matters worse, some owners will need to upgrade their equipment, electrical panel, or wiring in a garage to handle enough current to power an EV. And while we see more affordable options emerging, it’s still a significant additional expense you’ll want to pay attention to.
On the plus side, some electric vehicles feature two-way charging, and once you install a compatible charger, you can use your electric car to power your home.
EV insurance could cost more
Although this is slowly becoming less of an issue, insurance for an electric car is more expensive than if you had a regular vehicle. Even a similar model will cost more if it’s an EV or PHEV.
Generally, more expensive vehicles cost more to insure because they also cost more to repair or replace. That’s especially true of an electric vehicle due to complex equipment, battery packs, and other technical limitations. Also, electric cars are quite expensive, which means insurance costs more.
According to getJerryOn average, electric vehicles cost about $56 per month more to insure than a regular gas-powered vehicle. That’s almost $700 extra each year. However, it’s worth noting that you could get tax incentives on that EV, not to mention offsetting that increase thanks to fuel and maintenance savings, especially in the long run.
So while more expensive auto insurance on an EV is something to consider, it’s by no means a deal breaker. You’ll just have to figure that into your finances instead of solely focusing on savings at the gas pump.
Software updates and charging station applications
Aside from Tesla and a few others, electric vehicles are brand new. This means growing pains, testing of new hardware and software, software updates, and more. And although this is not exclusive to electric vehicles, it is more frequent.
With most new electric vehicles, we see a lot of recalls or software updates that require owners to take the car to the dealer. And while some of the earliest Ford F-150 Lightning EV recalls are quick over-the-air software updates you can do from home with the app, several other brands have required owners to return the car.
Electric cars are pretty smart, but that also means they’ll need more software updates like a smartphone or computer. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and EVs have some great features, but owners will need to adjust.
And while we’re talking software, you’ll definitely want to download some EV charging station apps to your phone or infotainment system. These will help you find nearby charging stations, filter them by speed, or help you get a free charge on occasion.
Routine and route settings
Most of my family members are constantly out of gas. Or, they will leave for work in the morning and end up late after having to stop for gas. I don’t know about you, but I never let my truck go below half. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for many of my friends and family.
With a gas-powered car, you can go to work or take a road trip without much thought or worry about gas. When you need to refuel, locations are everywhere. And while we’re seeing more EV charging locations appearing daily across the United States, it’s still a big change that EV owners will have to reckon with in daily life.
Once you buy an electric vehicle, you may need to make some changes to your routine or commute to have a place to charge when needed. This is especially true if you don’t have a level 2 charger installed at home.
Being aware of battery level and charging stations takes more effort than a normal car. And if you’re going on a long road trip, you’ll really need to factor in charging locations, routes, and recharge times. Well, unless you use a fast charger.
Tires, adapters and more
Next, we wanted to digress about a few other things, like EV tires and charging adapters. You can only charge a Tesla at one of the Tesla charging stations, which is not ideal. Fortunately, Tesla now sells a CCS adapter that allows Tesla drivers to use non-brand public charging stations.
Then, soon, Tesla will open up its expensive SuperCharger network to EVs from other manufacturers, removing many of the pain points and range anxiety of EV ownership. It is currently testing this program in other countries, and eventually Tesla charging stations will work with Ford, Tesla, Chevy, Nissan and other electric vehicles. For now, you’ll want to buy one or two adapters, in case the situation arises where you only have one option to charge the battery.
Another big topic of discussion on the internet is whether electric vehicles need special tires or not. Electric cars are heavy, have tons of torque, and usually come with all-weather tires with the lowest rolling resistance to increase range.
However, EV-specific tires are a bit more expensive than regular tires, and if you live in a place where it snows a lot, you’ll probably want to trade them in for EV snow tires. Speaking of snow, your electric car may see a decrease in driving range during the winter. Yes, that happens to gasoline vehicles too, but you definitely want to be on the lookout with your EV.
Finally, having an electric car is not very different from a normal gasoline vehicle. That said, it will take some getting used to the tech, payload and driving range.
Most people have never owned an electric car. If you just bought your first EV, it’s not exactly the same as your last car. You can’t just buy one and keep doing what you’ve always done. Instead, you’ll need to spend some money to install a faster charger at home, perhaps add solar charging, check insurance rates, download some EV-specific apps, and be more mindful of battery and charging locations.
That said, electric cars are fast, exciting, a joy to drive, and packed with sophisticated technology. You’ll love it.