Are EV Cars Worth It?

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    Purchasing fuel is one of the biggest expenses for vehicle owners, and since it’s made from fossil fuel, gas is a finite resource that presents all kinds of problems to the environment and the health of the planet. Electric vehicles (EVs) provide an alternative option to gas-guzzling cars, and although sales of EVs are up in recent years, many people are still hesitant about making the switch. So, in this article, we’ll take a look at how EVs work, some advantages and disadvantages, and whether it’s worth it to purchase an EV.

    What Is an Electric Vehicle?

    Electric vehicles are any type of motor vehicle that is powered by electricity. There are currently three types of EVs: all-electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids. All-electric vehicles have electric motors and rechargeable batteries, and they need to be plugged in to charge.

    Hybrids have two engines: a gas-powered combustion engine and an electric engine. When the combustion engine is running it charges up the electric engine battery, so the car never needs to be plugged in.

    A plug-in hybrid can be plugged in and charged like an all-electric vehicle, but it also has a backup gas engine in case you forget to charge the vehicle, you often drive distances that exceed the range of the electric engine, or there aren’t many EV charging stations available near you.

    Common examples of electric vehicles include Tesla cars, the Nissan Leaf, and the Chevrolet Bolt. More and more vehicle manufacturing companies are considering producing EVs, especially as the country and individual states are starting to set goals for switching completely to EVs within the next few decades.

    How Eco-Friendly are Electric Vehicles?

    The biggest draw of EVs is protecting the environment. While they have no tailpipe emissions, they do rely on lithium-based batteries, which take a lot of energy to manufacture. So, EVs are not completely emissions-free when you account for the manufacturing process, but over the lifetime of an EV, it produces much fewer harmful emissions than a traditional vehicle.

    It’s also important to keep in mind that EVs are only as eco-friendly as the power that charges it. While most of the electricity in the Portland Metro area is produced by hydroelectric means, the area’s power supply is still supplemented by nuclear power and fossil fuel power such as coal and natural gas.

    However, on the whole, EVs are much more eco-friendly than gas-powered vehicles. As Oregon and the nation continue to move toward goals of 100% clean energy production, EVs will only become more sustainable.

    What are the Advantages of Electric Vehicles?

    There are many advantages to electric vehicles that may not be immediately apparent:

    Better for the Environment

    This is the obvious reason that many people choose to purchase an electric vehicle. With no emissions from fully electric cars, no greenhouse gases are being released which protects the ozone layer and keeps the air cleaner.

    Use Renewable Resources

    Gasoline is made from oil which is a fossil fuel, which means it is a finite resource and once humanity has consumed all of the oil that currently exists, we will be out for good. On the other hand, electricity can be produced with renewable, sustainable means, such as solar, wind, and water power. As we mentioned above, most of the Portland area’s power comes from hydroelectricity.

    Electric vehicle owners can take steps to ensure that their vehicle is running on sustainably generated energy, such as installing a solar energy system at their home which can power an EV charging station in their garage. This way, every time they charge their vehicle at home, they know that the energy being used was sustainably sourced.

    Cheaper to Operate

    While EV owners still have to pay to charge their vehicles much like gas-powered vehicle owners have to pay for gas, electricity is much cheaper than gas - roughly one-third of the cost. Some electric vehicles also use regenerative braking, which generates free energy every time the driver brakes. Additionally, EVs require less maintenance than gas-powered cars, which eliminates another expense. For example, EVs don’t have any oil which means no more oil changes, and electric engines are easier on the brakes so EV owners don’t need brake replacements as frequently. Plus, EV owners can skip any other maintenance and repair tasks that come along with combustion engines.

    EV owners can even get tax credits just for owning a car that doesn’t damage the environment - sometimes as much as $7,500 in credit, although it depends on the state as well as the make and model of the EV.

    Access to HOV Lanes

    On some highways, EV drivers are allowed to use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes even if they are the only person in the car. This can be a huge incentive if your daily commute takes you on a busy highway in rush hour traffic.

    What are the Disadvantages of Electric Vehicles?

    While EVs have many advantages to recommend them, there are still a few disadvantages to be aware of:

    Less Convenient to Charge

    Refilling a vehicle’s gas tank generally takes less than five minutes at a fuel station, while recharging an EV can take hours. Some EVs take 20 hours to fully recharge, while others can be recharged in as little as four hours. However, this can add many hours to your travel time if you need to drive a long distance.

    It can also be difficult to find charging stations along your route, especially if you are traveling in rural or unpopulated areas. Road trips require more planning, as you need to map out where you’ll be able to recharge your vehicle. But, more EV charging stations are installed every day, so this is a diminishing concern.

    More Expensive to Purchase

    Currently, purchasing an EV will cost approximately $10,000 more than an equivalent gas-powered vehicle, and there aren’t that many model options. Basic models start at around $30,000, although as we’ve mentioned above, they are cheaper to operate in the long run. Plus, as more manufacturers begin to produce EVs and the technology continues to improve, the price gap will likely grow smaller in coming years.

    How Much Money Can I Expect to Save?

    Accounting for electricity/gas costs and average maintenance costs, it costs about 10.25 cents per mile to operate an EV sedan and approximately 16.89 cents per mile to operate a gas-powered sedan. Insurance costs are also generally cheaper for EVs.

    But, as we mentioned above, the upfront cost of an EV is usually about $10,000 more than a comparable gas-powered car. This can be partially offset by an EV tax credit, but your overall savings amount will be dictated by how much you drive in the long term.

    How Much Will an EV Increase My Electricity Bill?

    If you opt to install an EV charger at your home, this will increase your energy bill. But, charging at home is cheaper than charging on the road, and both options are cheaper than paying for gas. On average, Oregon drivers cover 12,000 miles per year. For a Tesla Model 3, that would require 40 full charges per year, which equates to 3,000 kWh per year.

    Based on the annualized cost of power, this would run an EV owner who lives in PGE’s service area for about $360, or about $210 if they decided to install a home solar energy system. This breaks down to about $20-30 per month to “fuel” an EV, which is less than the cost of one tank of gas.

    Why is Electricity So Cheap Compared to Gas?

    Electricity can be a renewable energy source, which means that it has a fixed cost as opposed to the highly variable cost of gas. EVs are long-term investments that can save you money over time and protect the environment. Many come backed by a 25-year warranty, which is dramatically better than any warranty available on a gas-powered vehicle.

    Conclusion: A Solution to a Difficult Problem

    Most of the disadvantages of EVs will diminish as time goes on, making EVs a more feasible and affordable option for many people. As we mentioned above, many states are already setting timelines to phase out the sale of new gas-powered vehicles, since the benefits of EVs vastly outweigh the disadvantages.

    Considering Electric Vehicle Charger Installation in Portland?

    At Power Northwest, we offer professional EV home and commercial charger installation services to the greater Portland-Vancouver metro area of Oregon and Washington. Contact us today to get started!

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