By Katie Kershman
I’m the proud new owner of a fully electric car! It gets about 250 miles per charge and significantly reduces my family’s greenhouse gas emissions and travel costs. That’s the happy ending to the journey; but it’s been a long and bumpy road to get here. (Buying during a global pandemic certainly contributed to the bumps). I’d like to talk about the real stuff – the things I learned through my nearly year-long purchasing process that can make your buying process A LOT easier.
- Figure out your options for charging. This is a big concern for a lot of folks; but it has actually been one of the easiest parts of owning an EV. We opted not to install an in-home charger since we have free public charging at Brendle Group. (Many businesses are starting to offer this option, so do some digging to see if there’s a good option for you at or near your office).For those times when we do need to charge up at home, any regular outlet will do. (But be prepared – I’ve found it takes about 4 hours for every 20 miles added, on a typical 110 volt outlet). Overnight is your best bet for this approach.
All this said, I’ve also been paying attention to the ChargePoint system (publicly accessible charging stations akin to gas stations) as we’ve traveled around the state of CO. I haven’t found myself more than 10 miles from the nearest charging station during my regular activities and those can recharge your battery much faster than at home (recharge speed depends on the level of station you’re using).
- Check for state and federal tax incentives. As you probably know, some brands are running out of the incentives (Tesla is no longer eligible for the federal incentive as one example). Check around to see which brands still have incentives available – saving you big bucks in the long run. There are a lot of resources on the internet but the Colorado Energy Office was the one I found most helpful for navigating this murky process.
- Identify your EV must haves. Like buying any car, it’s important to know what you’re looking for in an EV. Below are some considerations unique to EVs.
- Based on your charging options, what kind of range do you need? If you typically travel short distances but want something you can also take on road trips, consider a hybrid (typically around 30 miles on battery alone). If you’re like my family and have a longer daily commute, find a fully electric option that has a decent battery range.
- Do you need AWD or FWD? With the EV options available on today’s market, selecting AWD is going to significantly decrease your options. On the plus side, it will probably increase your cargo space. Like many things in the EV world, products are evolving rapidly – so keep an eye out for new models hitting the market.
- What kind of battery warranty do you want? There are a lot of misconceptions about EV batteries; but in case you’re concerned, the warranties are impressive. Check which brands have the most appealing battery warranty for your needs. Federal requirements mandate EV batteries be covered for at least 8 years or 100,000 miles. Some brands have additional warranties beyond this, so check into it.
- Don’t assume the car salesperson knows anything about EVs. Okay, you’re now at the point where you’ve identified a potential EV (or a couple options) and you’d like to check things out in person. Before you step foot onto a dealership lot, remember that electric vehicles are relatively new to the market – especially in some car brands. You might get lucky and encounter a salesperson who’s passionate about EVs and can answer all your questions. I wasn’t lucky. I encountered many salespeople, at many different dealerships, and none were ultimately helpful. My advice: do your research from the comfort of your own home and skip the headache. When you do head to a dealership, take the car(s) for a test drive and then head back home to do more research.
- Once you’ve identified the EV you want, call around to get the best price. Okay, many of you may be rolling your eyes at this no brainer but this was a big lesson learned for me (granted this is only my second car buying experience). Turns out the EV we fell in love with wasn’t widely available in CO, so CO dealerships were charging more than 25% over MSRP. We ended up buying it out of California (where every dealership had multiple versions of the car we wanted on their lot) for less than MSRP. Even with shipping charges, we saved more than $10K. Just be sure to get any quotes in writing so there’s no surprises. As an added bonus to this approach, you’ll avoid going out in public and can buy the car during a global pandemic like I did!
If you’ve recently bought an electric vehicle, share your lessons learned in the comments below!
About the Author – Katie is a gifted storyteller with 8 years of experience in marketing, including strategy development, communications and content, outreach, advertising, branding, and graphic design. At Brendle Group, Katie is the design channel and gate keeper for all externally facing media and deliverables including social media content, website presence, documents of all varieties, and engagement campaigns in numerous delivery formats. Her repertoire includes exceptional communication skills, creative approaches for long-term behavior change, comprehensive market research and analysis, and empowering promotional content. A love of language and drive to leverage great communications are Katie’s tools to inspire positive change.