by Fred Mayer
Board Member | Minneapolis Climate Action
Here's my conclusion after three years as an EV owner: If you're a two-car family, like many are, your next car should be an electric vehicle. Now I know what many of you are thinking. How pretentious to suggest that everyone can afford an EV! But allow me to explain. If you already own a gas-powered car (an ICE to those who drive EVs — short for Internal Combustion Engine) you can actually save a significant amount of money by going electric. How? By buying a USED electric vehicle.
Used EVs are a bargain!
Currently, electric vehicles lose value much faster than their ICE counterparts. After three years of use, a typical gas-powered car retains 60% of its purchase price; but most EVs recoup much less. Why is that, and why is that good for you? Battery technology and efficiency just keeps improving, which means longer range and better performance every year. This means that those who can afford the newest EV models hold out for the next leap forward in battery technology, and slightly older models with shorter range are less in demand. That results in some amazing deals on EVs just a few years old. And one big positive of the shorter-range models is that their first owners put fewer miles on them, so not only do you pay less, but you get a car that feels and drives like it's brand new.
Following your purchase of a used EV, things only get better. Electric vehicles have far fewer parts, which means fewer things to break or wear out and replace. All of this results in a significantly lower total cost of ownership. Take a look at the data:
Don’t just take it from me. A Consumer Reports study found that the average electric vehicle driver will spend 60 percent less to power the car, truck or S.U.V. and half as much on repairs and maintenance.
Range anxiety? Forget about it!
I'll admit it. Range anxiety is a real thing. It stinks to run out of electricity, just like it does to run out of gas. On top of that, you can’t just grab a can of electricity if you lose your charge. That said, charging stations are growing like weeds around the metro area and you’re never far from one. And this highlights the central argument of this post: If you’re a two-car family, why not save money by buying a used EV for your primary vehicle around town, and use your gas vehicle for longer road trips?
My car is a 7-year-old EV with only 60-80 miles of range, which works perfectly in town. When I need to drive longer distances, my partner and I swap cars and she takes the EV. Range anxiety solved. I know several families that purchased low-end used electric cars as second cars, and everyone in the family fights over who gets to drive it. Which leads us to …
The joy of driving
I’m an avid cyclist and prefer to bike whenever possible — year round. Still, I have to say that driving an electric vehicle is a real joy, and you don’t need to buy a Tesla to get this experience. You’d be surprised at just how peppy a Nissan Leaf is. EVs offer instant torque and outstanding performance. My car is not a Tesla but it does 0-30 faster than most so-called muscle cars. Even though I’m a bike guy I love smoking the typical gas-guzzling sports car off the line (only up to the speed limit, of course!). EV drivers come to love the immediate response that's only possible from an electric motor. It produces instant power using no gears or transmission. Try it once and I think you’ll be hooked.
The source of your electricity matters, but …
A common argument made by EV naysayers is that electric vehicles actually pollute more than gas-powered ones, because they’re often charged with electricity from coal-fired power plants. It’s an interesting argument (typically coming from people who are perfectly happy to use coal-fired electricity) but it’s wrong. Very few places in the US still get all or even most of their electricity from coal — but even in those places that do, it's better for the environment to drive an electric vehicle!
A team of researchers from England and the Netherlands found that EVs charged by coal-fired power stations still produce fewer emissions overall than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. In most places — not just in the US but around the world — EVs produce 30-70% fewer emissions over the life of the vehicle. Even so, why not save even more money (and emissions) by choosing 100% renewable energy?
I, for one, subscribe to a Community Solar Garden and get 100% of my electricity from solar energy. The amazing thing is that it doesn't just feel good to support renewable energy and dramatically reduce your carbon footprint … it saves you money. I’ve been saving hundreds of dollars a year by choosing solar. Learn how you can join a solar garden yourself here!
So, why not save yourself some money and save the environment? Make your next vehicle a used EV ... and go solar while you’re at it!
If you have any questions about making the transition to an electric vehicle, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.